The Wear twins and Larry Drew II aren’t shying away from discussing their troubles and time in Chapel Hill. Since they believe their worst college days are behind them, UCLA’s transfer triumvirate by way of North Carolina spoke to the Los Angeles Times’ Ben Bolch recently. They reflected on their time as Tar Heels under Roy Williams, a time, they say, that wasn’t that great.
The UNC Way, the atmosphere around the campus and the team and the program — it wasn’t what they were led to believe. Things never got going in the good for these California natives who trekked East to play for one of the most storied programs in the sport. (Though, on the verge of a 2011 Final Four, I certainly saw a group that was relaxed and as light-hearted as any I’ve covered.) All three players — David and Travis Wear (above, left) and Drew (right) — are singing a similar tune.
“The energy just wasn’t there as in the years prior, it seemed like,” said Travis Wear, a 6-foot-10 forward who averaged 3.5 points in 10.1 minutes a game. “It just wasn’t that fun of a year.”
The Wears also endured what David described as the “shock” of a different culture in Chapel Hill, and they missed being around family and friends who had supported them since childhood. They couldn’t always count on encouragement from Tar Heels fans, especially when the team struggled.
“When you’re winning, everything’s good. When you’re losing, it’s opposite,” Drew said. “Going to a school like that, I was aware of the potential for how things could be. I wasn’t aware to the extent.”
Lack of fan support and a disconnect with the coaching staff. That, more than playing time, seems to be the common thread with these three players who will unite in 2012 with the Bruins. (The Wears will play this upcoming season; Drew has to wait a full year before playing his final season in 2012-13.)
Drew’s dad, Larry Drew, the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, is quoted in the story saying he wasn’t informed of lineup changes, and the coaching by Williams was “unsalvageable.” North Carolina hasn’t suffered with these players leaving, so on that level, this isn’t such a sad story. Williams prides himself on keeping players over the majority of his career, so there’s a bit of an ego hit there, I’m sure. But transfers at high-major programs can be inevitable when you pack too many top-50 recruits (or recruits who think they’re of that caliber) in a locker room.
Maybe that’s why John Calipari’s able to roll in elite player after elite player: He gets them in, shows them off, them ships them out to the NBA, making room for the next batch.