Vitale: Graduation decision no-brainer for Vince

Dick Vitale Archive

  Vitale Home     College Basketball     ESPN.com  

Forte's jump to NBA leaves UNC vulnerable


With sophomore guard Joseph Forte leaving North Carolina early, it could be that the following UNC streaks are in jeopardy: 37 consecutive years of finishing in the top three in the ACC; 31 consecutive years of winning 21 games or more; and 27 consecutive NCAA Tournament berths.

Joseph Forte
Joseph Forte expects to be a first-round draft pick after two seasons at North Carolina.
With powerhouses at Duke, Maryland and Virginia – and with Wake Forest returning a solid nucleus – you better believe it'll be tough for coach Matt Doherty to continue those streaks.

The Tar Heels also lost senior center Brendan Haywood to graduation. Haywood will be a first-round NBA draft choice along with Forte.

Forte (20.9 ppg) and Haywood (12.3 ppg) were Carolina's top two scorers last season. Haywood led the team in blocks (3.5 bpg) and tied for the team lead in rebounding (7.3 rpg) with junior Jason Capel. Forte was the Heels' second-leading rebounder (6.1 rpg).

As you can see, Forte and Haywood leave some holes in the stat sheet, baby.

Given the loss of these two PTPers, Doherty will look to the returning 1-2 combination of Capel on the wing and junior Kris Lang on the interior. Capel (11.4 ppg) and Lang (11.3 ppg) were the Heels' third- and fourth-leading scorers; Lang averaged 5.7 rebounds.

Capel and Lang have served mainly as role players in the past but will be asked to step up. Diaper dandies will also be asked to contribute immediately. One who should be ready is forward Jawad Williams of Lakewood, Ohio.

Next season will be a real test for Doherty, who eyes his second year on the sidelines at Chapel Hill.

Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories