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Felton, May, & McCants are staying!
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jrhessey Offline
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Excellent news for the TarHeel Nation!

Quote:Three stars say they will return to UNC
By ROBBI PICKERAL, Staff Writer

CHAPEL HILL -- North Carolina's recruiting class may still be in question. But the rest of its basketball roster is not.

While high schoolers J.R. Smith and Marvin Williams are still pondering their pro prospects, all three UNC sophomore starters -- point guard Raymond Felton, swingman Rashad McCants and center Sean May -- said Tuesday night they will not test the NBA waters and will return to UNC next season in search of an NCAA title.

"We can be a Final Four, a national championship team," said Felton, who earlier this season said he would turn pro if he thought he would be a top-10 pick. "That's what we're shooting for, that's what we're going for. We're not settling for anything less."

For McCants and May -- first- and second-team All-ACC selections, respectively -- their decisions were a reiteration of statements they made during Carolina's 19-11 season, which ended with a loss to Texas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

For Felton, a third-team All- ACC selection who was considered the most iffy to return, it was a declaration.

"I'm back,'' Felton said after the Tar Heels' end-of-season banquet at the Smith Center. "I already sat down and talked to coach Williams and my parents, and I'm just going to come back strong next year and make things happen."

Felton, whose biggest strengths are his speed and court vision, had a disappointing season by most standards, considering he was tabbed the ACC's preseason player of the year. Although he led the ACC is assists (7.1 per game), he said he wants to continue to work on "everything," including end-of-game decisions. He also still needs to improve his shooting and defense.

McCants was the ACC's leading scorer at 20 points per game and the Tar Heels' go-to guy. His defense steadily improved under first-year coach Roy Williams, but it could still get much better. McCants said he thought about the NBA, but only briefly.

"I will be back here next year,'' McCants said after being named the team MVP, and earning a standing ovation. "I thought about testing the waters, but I feel that my goals coming out of high school were to have my name in the rafters, in the front line [of retired jerseys], and I'm going to complete that goal.

"And my other goal was, at every level of basketball that I've played on, I've wanted to win a championship. And so far I've done that -- except for here. I hopefully want to win a championship on this level and the next level."

May was the league's leading rebounder (9.8 per game). But after missing most of his freshman season after breaking a bone in his foot, he still needs to work on his strength and durability. He laughed when asked whether he had changed his mind about returning next season.

"If you watched the way I played this year, that's the easiest question to answer -- that I'm going to be here, that I'm going to continue to work on things with Coach,'' May said. "I know there's a lot of things I need to work on."

Roy Williams said he always expected that his three sophomores would return. Now, he must concentrate on his newest freshman class, which also includes Quentin Thomas, a point guard from Oakland, Calif.

UNC earlier this month rescinded recruit JamesOn Curry's scholarship after North Carolina's all-time leading high school scorer pleaded guilty to two felony drug charges.

That actually helps the Tar Heels, because without him they are currently at their scholarship limit of 13. But with quality depth an issue all last season, they don't want to lose anyone, including a recruit, to the NBA.

So Roy Williams traveled to New Jersey last Thursday to chat with Smith, a forward at St. Benedict's Prep whose professional possibilities have risen after a standout performance at the McDonald's High School All-American Game. Smith told the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger last week that if he has a chance to be a lottery pick, he will skip college and head to the NBA.

Roy Williams said he also plans to speak with Marvin Williams, a 6-foot-8 standout at Bremerton High in Washington, on Monday. He didn't have the success of Smith in the McDonald's game, but Williams' name has been on some draft boards.

"I feel we'll have very, very good meetings,'' said Roy Williams, who declined to disclose what had been said in previous meetings. "I'll share information with them, and those kids will be able to make decisions."

He just hopes those decisions mirror those of his upperclassmen.
04-14-2004 11:28 AM
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