UCLA basketball: Former North Carolina guard Larry Drew II joins Bruins
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Leaving North Carolina to come home and play for UCLA?
For Larry Drew II and two of his new teammates, nothing could be finer.
Drew became the third former Tar Heels basketball player and Southern California native to join the Bruins’ roster when he began attending classes at UCLA on Monday and officially joined the team. His arrival softens the blow the Bruins received Monday when sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt announced he would hire an agent and declare for the NBA draft.
Drew, a 6-foot-2 junior point guard who once starred at Woodland Hills Taft High, must sit out the 2011-12 season before utilizing his final season of eligibility. The Bruins did not have a point guard with eligibility beyond next season until Drew’s arrival.
Drew will be reunited with 6-10 forwards David and Travis Wear, Drew’s teammates at North Carolina during the 2009-10 season and in previous summers on the club circuit. The twins, who hail from Huntington Beach and starred at Santa Ana Mater Dei High, will be able to play as Bruins next season for the first time.
Dave Wear Sr., the twins’ father, said his sons had lunch with Drew a few weeks ago and remain freinds.
Drew was a member of North Carolina’s 2009 national championship team as a freshman but became a target of fan discontent when he moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore and the Tar Heels advanced only to the National Invitation Tournament.
This season, Drew lost his starting job to freshman Kendall Marshall in the wake of North Carolina’s 20-point loss to Georgia Tech on Jan. 16 and left the team four games later. Tar Heels Coach Roy Williams learned of Drew’s departure when he received a phone call from Atlanta Hawks Coach Larry Drew, the guard’s father.
‘Basically, there was no arbitrating, there was no trying to see if we could rectify anything,’ Williams said at the time.
The Tar Heels, 16-5 before Drew’s depature, won 13 of their final 16 games and reached the NCAA tournament East Regional final before losing to Kentucky. Drew averaged 4.4 points and 3.9 assists in 21 games this season, making 17 starts and averaging 22.8 minutes a game. Drew’s stay in Chapel Hill was the focus of a freestyle rap he delivered earlier this month on his 21st birthday at The Conga Room in Los Angeles:
‘The past three years I can’t undo, so now I’m making all the moves that I want to,’ he rapped. ‘They tried to tell me just to play my role, but who’s really trying to stick to a script that’s full of typos?’
Drew will become the fourth former Tar Heel to play for Coach Ben Howland at UCLA, joining the Wear twins and shooting guard Brian Morrison, who played for the Bruins during the 2004-05 season.
North Carolina and Williams lost another player to the Pacific 10 Conference more recently when forward Alex Stepheson transferred to USC after the 2007-08 season. Stepheson, a former North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake standout, played his final two college seasons for the Trojans.