Kentucky v North Carolina

Harrison Barnes to return to North Carolina, not enter draft


The Tarheels are going to be stacked next season.

After an up and down freshman season, Harrison Barnes was considered a sure-fire lottery pick, but he announced that he is going to head back to North Carolina for his sophomore season (via Draft Express on Twitter).

“Opportunities, both beneficial and life changing, can seem to make the next phase of my journey an easy decision,” Barnes said in a released statement. “But I am a student-athlete at the University of North Carolina. I’m here to experience college life, grow as a person, receive a quality education, and be part of the greatest basketball family in college sports.”

Barnes, the 6’8” swingman, entered the season considered the likely No. 1 pick overall. But after he struggled to adapt to the college game at the start of the season — he shot 37 percent through 17 games — his stock dropped. But he found a groove, new point guard Kendall Marshall and he clicked, and by the end of the season Barnes was doing things like dropping 40 on Clemson in the ACC Tournament. Barnes finished averaging 15.7 points per game. He has a very polished game for someone so young.

He moved back up and likely would have been a top-10 pick this year.

He likely will be a high lottery pick in what should be a very deep 2012 draft.

Dwight Howard played through torn MCL and meniscus in playoffs

Dwight Howard
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Dwight Howard hasn’t exactly been healthy in recent years. He missed half of last season with various injuries, including a two-month stretch from January to March after undergoing a knee procedure. On Thursday, he told a Houston radio station that the knee problems continued after that, and he had torn ligaments and cartilage during the Rockets’ Western Conference Finals series against the Warriors:

It’s a little alarming that we didn’t hear about this until now. Sometimes these injuries can heal without surgery, but Howard can become a free agent next summer, so you would think he would want to get any lingering issues addressed ahead of time. Considering his age (he’ll be 30 in December) and his injury history, this isn’t a great sign. A healthy Howard is the difference between the Rockets being a legitimate title contender and an als0-ran, so hopefully these problems are behind him and he can stay healthy this season.

Report: Trevor Booker suspended one game for Hibbert altercation

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On Tuesday night, Jazz big man Trevor Booker was ejected from a preseason game against the Lakers for taking a swing at Roy Hibbert during a scrap.

Now, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Booker will be suspended one game for the hit, meaning he’ll miss the Jazz’ October 28 season opener against the Pistons:

Considering he was already ejected, a one-game suspension seems about right.