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ESPN, Jay Bilas: “I Think Guys Can Serve Their Apprenticeship In The NBA And Not Be Hurt By It”

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NCAA Basketball Tournament - Kansas v North Carolina

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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The Drive Monday 3-23-12-The guys talk with the college basketball analyst about UNC losing to Kansas on Sunday, who on this team will be back next year, and he ranks the teams in the triangle for next year.

Bilas felt when he spoke to the Drive a few weeks ago (see his interview HERE) that UNC was a sure bet for the Final Four.  He still thinks if the Tarheels played with Kendall Marshall, the Heels would be playing in New Orleans this weekend.

“North Carolina was capable of winning but without a point guard and playing a third string point guard, you could put any one of the teams in the Final Four and take away their point guard and they wouldn’t be there…you take away their lead guard, and the chances of them advancing diminish greatly…”

Bilas says that although the Tarheels are an amazing team, the expectations of UNC bringing home a National Championship without Marshall was a little bit of a lofty goal.  He saw the team was excellent from the start of the season but says the Heels lack a brutal instinct that is key to being the best in the country.

“The expectations were a little out of whack. …I still think North Carolina was capable of winning it…UNC and Syracuse seemed to be the only top talents to Kentucky, but it turned out Kentucky was the top talent…[UNC] didn’t have a killer instinct, they weren’t the type of team to get you down and step on your neck and beat you by 30…Had they not lost Kendall Marshall, they’d be playing in New Orleans this week.

Many Tarheels fans have been upset with Harrison Barnes’ performance in the loss to Kansas.  Bilas feels that Barnes is a phenomenal player but that he is better suited to the NBA rather than staying in college.

“Relative to what we expected…we expected true greatness and he has been really good…to be an All ACC player, score over 1000 points in two years, to score 17, 18 points a game?  I don’t think he really matured as quickly as perhaps we thought he should have.  I think Harrison Barnes is going to be an outstanding pro…I do think he is very process oriented and he is still figuring it out…the maturation process for him was a little slow…I think he is going to be a better pro than college player.”

Bilas believes it is not necessary for college players to finish more than a year or two before heading pro, IF they are ready for it.  He believes you can grow and mature just as easily in the NBA as you can in college, but under better conditions.

“It’s no longer are you ready to go and play [in the NBA]…you can improve just as easily in the NBA as in college.  It is more are you ready and committed to being a pro right now?  If you are mature enough to handle it mentally and physically, then it is fine…I think guys can serve their apprenticeship in the NBA now and be fine…if they are ready and committed to being a pro, then they will be fine…this system isn’t set up to cater to [players] in college…the longer they stay [in college], the more they have to lose… [but Kentucky's Coach Calipari] has done a really good job of convincing his players that the NBA wants winners, [so they will stay longer and play for him].”

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