Davis will leave UNC early for NBA Draft

UNC forward fears that a possible lockout by the NBA owners in 2011 would prevent him from turning pro after next season.

Staff WriterApril 13, 2010 

With his left wrist still healing in a soft cast, North Carolina forward Ed Davis might be taking a risk by giving up his final two seasons of college eligibility to turn pro this summer.

But after the school announced the sophomore's decision Monday afternoon, Ed's father Terry Davis said a bigger concern loomed if the 6-foot-10 Tar Heels starter - whom NBA draft analysts still project as a first-round pick - didn't go now: a potential lockout that could shut down the National Basketball Association in 2011.

The NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire after the 2010-11 season, and unless a new contract is reached, an NBA work stoppage could take place the following fall. Had Davis opted to stay for his junior season, a lockout might have kept him in Chapel Hill for his senior season, as well.

"This was a tough decision for him, because he loves Carolina, loves his teammates," said Terry Davis, who played 10 seasons in the NBA. "But with a possible lockout the next year, that could set him back another year. And he wanted to fulfill his dream."

Davis' departure could leave UNC, who had to settle this spring for a postseason run to the NIT, thin in the post next season. Forwards John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Travis Wear all are scheduled to return next season. But freshman David Wear, who had hip surgery near the end of the season, won't be back on the court until June at the earliest, leaving his status for next year unclear.

Terry Davis said he and his son met with UNC coach Roy Williams over the weekend. Williams was supportive, Terry Davis said, "just like he has been from day one."

In a prepared statement, Williams said he was proud to have coached Davis and that he looks forward to following him and supporting him at the next level.

Ed Davis, in a prepared statement, thanked Williams, his UNC teammates and his family. Davis said he would continue to pursue his degree and called winning the 2009 national championship "a special memory that will last a lifetime."

Monday's announcement did not allow for the possibility that Davis could change his mind and return to school. Terry Davis said his son will hire an agent, and he's confident that Ed - a defensive-minded player who averaged 13.4 points and 9.6 rebounds as a sophomore - will be a first-round pick. But there is some question as to whether the status of his left shooting wrist - which he broke on Feb. 10 in the second half of a 64-54 loss to Duke - will affect how high he goes in the draft.

Although the wrist does not need surgery, Terry Davis said, the soft cast likely won't come off for another couple of weeks. Ed Davis won't go through any workouts until he's fully healthy, his father said. Asked about projections of where his son would be chosen in the June 24 draft, Terry Davis said, "It's hard to say right now, with his wrist. Teams are a little skeptical about it, but as it gets closer to draft time and he's able to work out, and teams gain confidence that there's nothing wrong [with his wrist] - I'm confident he's a lottery pick. ...

"Again, it was a hard decision for Ed. But it's been a childhood dream to play in the NBA, and he's happy that he's made the next step and is going to the next level."

robbi.pickeral@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8944

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