In the revamp of the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets this summer, the Hornets free agent center Bismack Biyombo headed north to Toronto to build on his young career and the Raptors free agent power forward Tyler Hansbrough returns to North Carolina after six NBA seasons where he remains a local college basketball hero.
To describe Hansbrough’s collegiate tenure with the Tar Heels as overwhelming would be understating his impact. North Carolina retired his number 50 after he left. He is the only player in ACC history to lead his school in scoring and rebounding for four seasons.
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The 2006 ACC Freshman of the Year went on to receive First Team All-America and First Team All-ACC honors in each of his four seasons with the Tar Heels. In 2008, Hansbrough swept the six national player of the year awards: the Associated Press, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, Sporting News, the Naismith Award and the Wooden Award.
Hansbrough’s player bio at UNC reads like a team record book.
The two teams couldn’t have obtained the players any better than if they had traded for them. The veteran Hansbrough brings needed energy, toughness and experience to the Hornets as well as a beloved local hero who should help sell tickets in a strong college basketball market.
Biymobo brings shot blocking and rebounding to a Raptors team badly in need of rim protection and a means to finish off their usual outstanding defensive sequences without giving up so many second chance points.
The Raptors originally signed Hansbrough as a free agent two years ago, but as the team evolved from lottery fodder to Atlantic Division winners, Hansbrough moved down the depth chart at power forward and ended up playing mostly out of position at center. Remarkably, Hansbrough remained fairly effective as an undersized center at both ends of the court, but the Raptors needed a true backup center who could protect the rim and Hansbrough became the odd man out.
Charlotte went through their own soul-searching this summer and decided they had enough defense and needed to add some pop to their offense. They rescinded Biyombo’s qualifying offer and the Raptors jumped at the opportunity to get the player they felt filled a hole on their team.
Hansbrough often spoke about how much he enjoyed his collegiate career at North Carolina while he was in Toronto. This should be a very good move for both parties.
Raptors Tyler Hansbrough Loved His Time at North Carolina
“I stayed at UNC year round and I loved it,” Hansbrough said. “Obviously it’s college life. I am not in a room thinking basketball 24/7, I lived the college dream. I did everything.”