For Carolina athletics, the hits just keep on coming; after weeks of facing internal and external investigations of the football program, one of the main concerns by UNC fans was whether or not the turmoil would touch the basketball team. We all breathed a sigh of relief when it appeared it would not. But, undaunted by academic scandal, Will Graves decided he would not be denied in his continual bid to get himself in trouble, as Graves was officially dismissed from the basketball team yesterday for unspecified violations of team rules.
“This is 100 percent not related to any NCAA matters on campus,” says head coach Roy Williams. “I hate this for Will. He worked extremely hard this summer to get himself physically in the best shape he’s been in years, but he did not do everything he needed to do to be a part of our basketball program. This is a huge blow to our team, but an even bigger blow for Will. Playing for the Tar Heels meant so much to him.”
Roy makes it seem like the kid was in a car accident instead of getting himself in trouble, but it does come as quite a sudden surprise given Graves was one of two UNC players scheduled to attend ACC media day and Williams had been raving about his work ethic and commitment to conditioning over the summer. The Heels’ front court gets a little thinner than it already was, and they lose some outside shooting and “veteran” “leadership” as well - take that as you will. Tar Heel Fan also has an interesting note that this marks the official end of the vaunted 2006 recruiting class at UNC, which produced the full spectrum of results:
[They] produced a national title, an NCAA Final Four MOP (Ellington), an ACC POY (Lawson), ACC ROY (Wright), who all ended up being NBA first round picks. There was one four year player (Thompson), one transfer (Stepheson) and one dismissal (Graves).
Whether it was drugs, academics, or something else, it’s never fun to see a young kid screw up and lose out on being a part of something great - here’s hoping Graves has something good in his future, even if it will no longer be with Carolina basketball.
Meanwhile, here’s what else has been going on this week:
- Following up our nerdy Star Wars reference last week, Tar Heel Fan makes his own Star Wars analogy to the ongoing NCAA investigations at UNC. Hint: unfortunately, in this example UNC isn’t the rebel alliance. They’re the planet that gets blown to smithereens.
- Dr. Saturday plays ACC Championship roulette and says NC State is the smart bet right now in the Atlantic Division. Despite the collapse against VT last week, I’d say that’s still a good argument given Russell Wilson’s emergence as a legitimately dangerous QB.
- Meanwhile, Carolina March makes the compelling case that nobody is making it out of the Coastal Division without two losses, although it looks to me like UNC still has the tallest hill to climb.
- Dick Baddour took the time to write a letter to the Daily Tar Heel after they called for Butch Davis to be fired at the end of the year; it appears the administration is still behind him and believes him to be above direct blame. How that plays out remains to be seen.
- Butch Davis openly comes out and says he’s “sorry he ever trusted John Blake.” He’s not the only one.
- John Blake’s lawyers are now speaking out a bit about his time at UNC. Unfortunately, they’re not just saying “Yes, he’s guilty as hell but nobody at Carolina knew what he was doing.”
- The 50 preseason nominees for the Wooden Award were announced this week, and there aren’t really any big surprises; Singler and Smith for Duke, John Henson for UNC. The Dagger notes Miles Plumlee not being on the list is a bit of a snub, but he hasn’t even shown as much production as Henson to this point, so tough to make that argument.