Harrison Barnes end a few tense weeks of specualtion for Carolina fans this morning by announcing he would indeed return for his sophomore season. In doing so, he almost ensured the Tar Heels of a preseason ranking atop both polls, as UNC will return everyone but Justin Knox and some members of Blue Steel from a team that made it to the Elite Eight.
It's easy to draw parallels to the end of the 2008 season, when Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny green all elected to return to Chapel Hill for what would turn out to be a national championship season. It's also tempting to theorize how the UNC program might be different from most, especially in light of the fact that almost every recognizable name from a down year in the ACC has chosen to at least test the waters of the NBA draft if not fully commit. I think in the end the biggest draw is one simple fact. You can practically count the number of players under Roy Williams who left Chapel Hill without a national championship on one hand - Justin Bohlander, Alex Stepheson, Brandan Wright, and some miscellaneous walk-ons. It's very hard to walk away from a chance at a national title, and if you're the type of competitor Barnes appears to be, the temptation to really leave your mark on the program has to be very strong.
UNC is now officially set for next season, with the additions of James McAdoo, P.J.Hairston, Stilman White, Jackson Simmons, and as of late last week Desmond Hubert. Depth will definitely not be a problem as the biggest worry becomes folding under the vastly increased expectations. With this bunch, that doesn't strike me as too big of a problem.