CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina's big men are passing on the NBA for another run at a national championship. The Tar Heels will have to wait a little longer to learn the plans of freshman Harrison Barnes.
The school announced junior 7-footer Tyler Zeller and sophomore John Henson will return to Chapel Hill next season, but said Barnes "is still reviewing information" as he considers whether to enter the draft.
Zeller and Henson were second-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference picks as the Tar Heels won the league regular-season championship and reached an NCAA regional final.
In a statement, coach Roy Williams said he spoke to about 10 NBA teams to investigate where the two players might go in the draft. But he said their decisions were "less about the NBA and more about what they wanted to do right now and the experiences they are enjoying" in college.
Zeller averaged a team-high 15.7 points to go with 7.2 rebounds, but he upped those numbers to nearly 26 points and nine rebounds on 59 percent shooting during the NCAA tournament. He also won this year's Skip Prosser Award as the ACC's top scholar-athlete in men's basketball and was named a first-team Academic All-America by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
"I came to Carolina because it had the balance of academics and basketball I wanted and it was the best place for me to prepare for life and a career in the NBA," Zeller said in a statement. "That's exactly what we have here. I want to finish my college career, compete for championships and graduate on time."
Henson, a lean 6-foot-10 forward, averaged about 12 points and 10 rebounds as the team's top interior defender.
"I know at some point I want to play in the NBA, but right now I want to enjoy my college life," Henson said in a statement. "My teammates and coaches are great and I want to help them reach the big dreams we all share."
Williams said Barnes, a freshman who finished second to Zeller in scoring by a single point, "is not as far along in his decision-making process." Williams said he hopes to provide the 6-8 forward with all information from NBA teams by the end of next week.
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is April 24. They can withdraw their names from the draft by May 8 to preserve their eligibility.
The draft will be held June 23.
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Point guard Kyrie Irving is leaving Duke after one season to enter the NBA draft.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement issued Wednesday by the school that Irving plans to hire an agent, ending his college career.
"Our whole program is overjoyed with having Kyrie here for one year and that he has the chance now to pursue a dream of being a high draft pick and a great player in the NBA," Krzyzewski said. "We are totally supportive of Kyrie, his family and his decision. We look forward to continuing to work with him during the upcoming months leading to his entry into the NBA and afterwards while he is an NBA player."
Irving played only 11 games and missed roughly two-thirds of the season with an injured big toe on his right foot. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 17.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists for top-seeded Duke, which was upset by Arizona in the West regional semifinals.
"It was a great experience playing for Coach K," Irving said. "He taught me a lot about the game. Even when I was hurt, I learned a lot. Also a special thanks goes to the medical staff for getting me back on the court for the NCAA Tournament and my teammates for sticking with me throughout the entire year. Duke offered me an experience I could never have imagined."
When Irving was healthy, he was electrifying. His 31-point performance against then-No. 6 Michigan State marked just the fourth time in school history that a freshman scored 30 points in a game. He was the MVP of the CBE Classic after averaging 14.5 points and six assists.
But his only season at Duke ultimately might be defined by the 26 games he missed after he jammed his toe during a win over Butler on Dec. 4, and the lingering subplot surrounding the Blue Devils was when — or even if — he would return.
He worked out in full public view before an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament game in uniform shorts and sneakers, told reporters after the championship game win over North Carolina that he could return and wound up coming off the bench for Duke's NCAA tournament opener against Hampton. He reached double figures in scoring in each of his three tournament games, capped by a 28-point showing in the loss to Arizona.
After that game, he said he didn't want to take off his No. 1 jersey and could see himself wearing it again as a sophomore, but wanted to consult with his coaches, family and friends before coming to a final decision on his future.
"This was a special year for me. I love everything about Duke and I'm going to miss it," added Irving. "Duke has a special place in my heart. Even though I'm leaving this year, Duke will always be in my mind and my heart. I'm going to miss putting on that No. 1 jersey."
Irving's departure leaves another hole in the Duke lineup that will be missing graduated seniors Nolan Smith, the ACC's player of the year, and Kyle Singler, the most outstanding player at last year's Final Four. Among the Blue Devils' incoming freshmen is guard Austin Rivers, the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and one of the nation's highest-rated recruits.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.