May 25, 2010, 5:20 PM EDT
When Duke’s backcourt was left thin after the 2009-10 season because of Gerald Henderson heading to the NBA and Elliot Williams transferring to Memphis, the Blue Devils caught a break because Dawkins was able to finish high school ahead of schedule and take early enrollment at Duke.
Instead of just Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith in the backcourt (and Kyle Singler in a pinch), Mike Krzyzewski was able to bring in Dawkins, a sharpshooter and capable ball-handler to provide some much-needed dept. Worked out pretty well, too.
North Carolina’s hoping Justin Knox provides a similar impact.
The Tar Heels lost a fleet of forwards this season: Deon Thompson graduated, Ed Davis declared early for the NBA draft and David and Travis Wear decided to transfer to UCLA. Those moves left center Tyler Zeller and forward John Henson as the only real big men on the roster. Sure, incoming freshman Harrison Barnes and senior Will Graves can play on the wing, but they’re hardly guys you want down low.
Enter Knox, a 6-9, 240-pound power forward who started 17 games and averaged nearly 20 minutes an outing last season for Alabama. He didn’t produce much – 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds – but simply by having a third big man who can reliable defend and rebound will be crucial for Roy Williams’ squad (especially if Zeller can’t stay injury free).
Normal transfer rules probably won’t apply to Knox, who should be available to play immediately because he’s on schedule to graduate this summer and can simply choose a graduate degree program at UNC that Alabama does not offer.
Knox wanted to keep playing and UNC needed a forward. Everybody wins! (Well, almost everybody. Sorry about that UAB…)
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