ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt tweeted Monday that he’s “hearing Harrison Barnes will remain” a member of the North Carolina Tar Heels instead of declaring for the 2011 NBA Draft. If true, that would make Barnes the third lottery pick in under a week to opt for a return, joining Perry Jones and Jared Sullinger.
More importantly for UNC fans, it would also mean the team would retain its three best players from a squad that reached the Elite Eight and ACC Championship Game. With the Duke Blue Devils set to lose Kyrie Irving, the Heels would be even bigger favorites than they already were to win the conference next year.
In fact, that’s probably short-selling the effect a Barnes return would have on next year’s expectations. A preseason top-five ranking is all but assured if the ice-watery freshman chooses to remain in Chapel Hill.
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