While the 2011 Quicken Loans Carrier Classic is a rematch of the 2009 NCAA national championship game between MSU and UNC, there are only three active players on the current rosters who actually played in that game.
Michigan State University senior Draymond Green played 12 minutes in the 2009 championship game, scoring seven points from the forward position, while senior Austin Thornton connected on two free throws in MSU’s losing effort.
Tyler Zeller, UNC’s seven-foot tall senior, had not yet become the dominant post player he is today when the Tar Heels defeated the Spartans in the 2009 title game. He only played one minute and scored one point as UNC won their sixth national championship.
However, these players will play a much larger role for their respective teams once the opening tip hits the deck of the USS Carl Vinson on Veterans Day.
Who are the NBA prospects playing in the 2011 Quicken Loans Carrier Classic?
In addition to the many NBA prospects that played in the 2009 NCAA national championship game, the 2011 Quicken Loans Carrier Classic features many NBA hopefuls as well.
The first player who will be drafted by the NBA from the inaugural Carrier Classic is definitely the sensational 6’8” UNC sophomore Harrison Barnes.
Barnes is a prolific scorer and was personally recruited by Michael Jordan to attend UNC at the Jordan Brand Classic all-star game in 2010. He was the number one ranked high school player in America (ESPN) and has lived up to the hype at UNC, sinking a game winning three pointer against Florida State University as time expired. Barnes also won ACC Rookie of the year honors last season. Barnes scored 40 points against Clemson in the ACC semifinal game making his stellar performance the highest scoring output by any ACC player in 2010.
Other notable NBA prospects on UNC’S roster this season include:
- John Henson (#40) – 6’11” – Forward – Sophomore
- Tyler Zeller (#44) – 7’0” – Center – Senior
Michigan State University, on the other hand, prides itself on a collective blue-collar effort. Head Coach Tom Izzo stresses defense and rebounding over individual stars.
Accordingly, MSU did not send any players from the 2009 title game to the NBA. Nonetheless, a couple players on MSU’s current roster are definitely future NBA prospects.
Draymond Green brings a unique skillset to the power forward position as his agility, ball handling, and shot making ability are rare qualities for an athlete of his size (6’7”, 240 lbs.). He is the enthusiastic leader of the Spartans and his game is definitely on the radar of NBA scouts.
Another potential NBA prospect on MSU’s roster this season includes:
- Keith Appling (#11) – 6’1” – Guard – Sophomore
Where are they now?
NBA teams drafted several of the players on the 2009 UNC National Championship team, including four of the five starters. Those players and respective teams include:
- Tyler Hansbrough – Indiana Pacers (1st round, 13th pick)
- Ty Lawson – Minnesota Timberwolves (1st round, 18th pick) traded to Denver
- Danny Green – Cleveland Cavaliers (2nd round, 46th pick)
- Wayne Ellington – Minnesota Timberwolves (1st round, 28th pick)
- Ed Davis – Toronto Raptors (1st round, 13th pick)
While these players rose to prominence in the 2009 championship game, there is a new wave of talent that’s hungry and waiting to shine on the national stage. Thus, tune into the 2011 Quicken Loans Carrier Classic to see if North Carolina can hold on to their preseason number 1 ranking and to see which future stars shine the brightest.