CHAPEL HILL - University of North Carolina junior forward John Henson, sophomore forward Harrison Barnes and sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall will enter the 2012 NBA Draft.
"It's a great day for three youngsters who are taking another step toward their ultimate goal of playing professional basketball," says head coach Roy Williams. "On a very small stage, it's a sad day for me because I won't get to coach them again. All Tar Heel fans will miss them greatly, as well.
"When I recruit a young man I talk to them about their ultimate goals and each of them are taking that next step toward reaching the goals they spoke to me about. I am extremely pleased for them. They have meant so much to our basketball program and theUniversity of North Carolina. I thank them for everything they have contributed to Carolina Basketball.
"I really look forward to watching Harrison, John and Kendall play in the NBA. I know theywill be very successful. They have been and will always be great Tar Heels."
Henson was the ACC's defensive player of the year in 2011 and 2012 and earned first-team all-conference honors as a junior. He played in 109 games and finished with1,124 points, 885 rebounds (11th all-time at UNC) and 279 blocks, the second-most in school history. He is first all-time at Carolina with 2.56 blocked shots per game.
"I've loved my three years at Carolina, and now I'm ready to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA," says Henson. "It's tough to leave because I love my teammates, coaches and UNC. I wish we'd been able to bring our fans a national championship, but it wasn't meant to be. I am proud of what we accomplished, especially the last two years.
"I plan to finish working toward my degree. That's important to my parents, CoachWilliams and me. I can't say enough about how much I've enjoyed my experience in Chapel Hill. This was a big decision and it will be a big change, but I'm ready.
"I'd like to thank my parents, Coach Williams and his staff and all of my teammates for everything they've done to get me ready for this moment. I'd also like to thank all the Carolina fans who have given us so much support over the lastthree years."
Barnes earned first-team All-ACC honors and second-team All-America honors (NABC) as a sophomore after leading Carolina in scoring for the second straight year. The Ames, Iowa, native scored 1,228 points in 75 games, an average of 16.4 per contest.
"I'm honored and blessed to have the opportunity to compete in the NBA," says Barnes. "The love and respect I have for basketball fuel the drive toward my ultimate goal - to experience an illustrious career in the NBA. I have consulted with Coach Williams and my family, and although it was a difficult decision, I have decided to enter this year's NBA draft.
"Chapel Hill is a special place. Over the past two years I've enjoyed every single moment of my Tar Heel experience. The road we took to reach the Elite 8 in 2011 and again in 2012 were great team accomplishments. I am thankful to UNC fans, my teammates, and to have played for Hall of Fame Coach Roy Williams and the entire coaching staff. Now it's time for the next course of my journey. Although I may be giving up my eligibility, I will continue to pursue my degree. I love this university and will always be a Tar Heel."
Marshall won the 2012 Bob Cousy Award as the top point guard in the nation and was a first-team All-America by CBSSports.com. The Dumfries, Va., native set the ACC'ssingle-season assist record this year with 351, the fourth-most in NCAA history. He also set ACC single-season records with 9.75 assists per game and 17 double-figure assist games. He is Carolina's all-time leader in assist per game (7.96) and the ACC's career leader in assist-turnover ratio (3.01). He is second in ACC history in assists per game.
"I would like to thank my family, coaches, teammates and the Tar Heel Nation for all their support," says Marshall. "It's been the greatest two years of my life. I have always put the team before myself and I am extremely proud of what we've accomplished. My life long dream has been to play basketball at the highestlevel possible and I feel now is my greatest opportunity to fulfill this goal. I will always be a Tar Heel at heart and I will carry the experiences that I've had here both on and off the court with me for the rest of my life."