College / Nov 6, 2009 / 4:07 pm

UNC Point Guard Larry Drew II Is Ready To Show What He Can Do

Larry Drew

Larry Drew II knows something that you don’t know.

He must.

What an enigma. This backup point guard turned starter, who many experts, fans and haters concede to be one of, if not the weakest link on North Carolina’s basketball team, walking into the Dean Dome’s media room as self assured as, say, his predecessor Tywon Lawson.

A rock of certainty with a collective perception of anything but, Drew is almost a walking contradiction, sporting a black oversized, fitted Cincinnati Reds cap and wearing a poker face while exuding the personality of a seasoned Boy Scout.

“Larry Drew,” he says with a nod while simultaneously extending his right hand. “Nice to meet you.”

He seems to know what’s coming, but it doesn’t make our sit down any less awkward, initially.

Is he fully aware of the massive tempered expectations due to him being at the controls this season?

“I’m more than aware,” he says with an uncomfortable grin. “No one has ever come up to me and said ‘you’re whack,’ but my homeboys will tell me at times that they had to stick up for me because people were saying that I wasn’t gonna do anything, I’m weak, whatever… It’s all based off of last season.”

To be fair, the perception is unfair.

The reality is that whenever Drew subbed in last season it was for the best point guard in college basketball, which, even at Drew’s best, would mean a dropoff for the Tar Heels.

Welcome to North Carolina… AKA Final Four or bust if you ask crazed fans.

Yes, even after winning the NCAA title last season and losing four horses (Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green and Wayne Ellington) to the NBA Draft.

“I’m OK with the expectations,” says Drew. “But we’re very young and it may take us a little time to reach that level, though we can achieve it… But it’s like they have high expectations for the team and low expectations for me. I’m telling you though, people are gonna be surprised. I’m more than capable and my confidence is way up.”

Still, confidence isn’t afraid of the facts.

“No doubt,” says Drew.

The numbers for him last season were forgettable – 1.4 points, 1.9 assists, 1.2 turnovers, 1.1 rebounds in 9.6 minutes per game. His best performance was a 4 point, 6 assist, 5 rebound and 1 turnover effort in a 116-48 mollywapping of UNC Asheville on Nov. 30.

And often times when Drew, a 6-2 sophomore, spelled Lawson he admittedly looked in over his head.

“That’s true,” he says. “I don’t deny that, but to be honest with you, I just never got a chance to show what I could really do last season because of what we had. It’s a mindset thing for me.”

A few years back, Drew got the chance to workout with, very likely, the player with the toughest mindset in the NBA – Kobe Bryant.

“It was crazy,” recalls Drew. “It started at like 3 or 4 a.m. or something like that and we finished at 8 a.m. He worked so hard out there. He had a drill where he dribbled to the elbow and he’d have to have eight makes in a row. Then when he did it again, he’d make a move and have a counter in case the move got stopped. Then he’d have a counter for that counter. It was unreal. He’s possessed or something. It was like he had something to prove.”

Bryant did.

Much like Drew, Bryant had skeptics who said that with just him the Lakers would never win another NBA title…

“But they won this year,” says Drew matter-of-factly. “It just shows me that it can be done. I think back to that workout and I saw how hard you have to work to make it happen. So I went home and worked really hard this summer.”

His No. 1 focus? Improving his jump shot.

“It needed some work,” he says.

Chances are you didn’t follow Drew in high school so his shooting woes last season were a bit baffling to say the least. Thirty-five percent from the field and 23 percent from the arc for a guy who won the 3-point shooting contest at the McDonald’s All American game in 2008?

Fools Gold, according to Drew.

“That probably had people thinking shooting was a strong aspect of my game,” says Drew of winning. “Even back then I had a hitch in my shot so I worked out all summer with my dad (Atlanta Hawks assistant Larry Sr.) and my shot has really improved. I don’t have any excuses and I’m not hiding anything.”

Contrarily, Drew is very forthcoming about his lackluster backup role last season.

“It’s understandable for people to be down on me,” he says. “Last year, from a statistical standpoint, I kind of want to block all of that out. I don’t want to forget because it was great with the title and everything, but I didn’t play my best, so I don’t like to think about what I did.”

It’s when he talks about what he plans to do that he perks up.

When asked how, from specifically the point guard position, the offense will be different from when Lawson was running the show, Drew offers, “Foot speed. Ty is unbelievably fast with the ball, and I’ll tell you right now I won’t be as fast as him. I’ll find other ways to push the tempo because we’re still gonna play fast. Other than that, there won’t be much difference. We’re similar in how we find the open man, break down the defense and defend, and like I said, my jump shot has gotten better. People are really gonna be surprised when they watch me this year. I’m a totally different player in a totally different situation.”

Still, Drew will admit this much, that at this point this all just sounds good. He knows that mere words won’t change the questionable cloud over his head and that most people who read this article won’t be able resist an immediate eye-roll reaction.

Suddenly, he changes from slouched to upright, looks me smack-dab in the eyes and says, “In the end, I’ll change the perception.”

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  • Mack Brownee

    I’m riding w/ drew on this one; perception ain’t reality, reality is reality and he’s going to show everybody he’s the real deal at point

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    He is a II. He will represent.

  • George W Kush Sr

    Good attitude, we’ll see what happens

  • Joe

    Well This will be interesting to see. I have no problem with Drew, It’s not his fault he’s not very talented! and that’s the bottom line. I saw him in highschool and didn’t think that was the best “back up pg” roy could have gotten at all and was disssapointed with offering him a scholarship at UNC. (another quintin thomas) I understand ya can’t have star behing star but we could have done better than Larry Drew…With all the weapons around him…there is no excuse! for him to not be “solid” this year…if he can’t give us 10 and 5, with this front line..he stinks!!
    NEXT

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    Great piece about Kobe. Now I have to use that info to when I’m working on my game.

  • Jerry

    Well “reality is reality” and reality is Drew is a mediocre point guard at best. Last summer in Durham at Stackhouse’s ProAm he had issues scoring on high school players and was out of his league. The reason he looked out of his league last year was because he was. His numbers show it. In UNC’s only exhibition game he had 8 assists (good) but 3 TO’s against who? Drew will match up well with Scheyer at Duke but Vasquez will eat his lunch and make him look silly. Roy seems to be so hell bent on the bigs but UNC will miss Lawson a lot more than Hansbrough.

  • http://twitter.com/movezthaking movez

    HE WILL DO WELL LIKE EVERY OTHER UNC POINT…POINT…. BLANK!!!!

  • http://www.petsocietyhelp.com Pet Society Help

    He the son of larry drew who played for the lakers back in the day?

  • John

    Larry Drew will have a great season this year…period
    you will see that he will be able to get into the lane at will and create for others as well as himself. i see him as being more than solid this year averaging 12points and 7 assists a a game…he will prove all you haters wrong

  • http://www.in-n-outnba.blogspot.com Lucas

    Great read, loved this kid in High School.
    His handle is on point!

  • http://www.nukedasouth.net Chicagorilla

    @8

    Yes. His dad is now the assistant coach on the Atlanta Hawks i believe. At least that’s what 2k10 says, lol

    @9

    I agree with you. Others are hating on this kid when no one really got a chance to see what he is capable of. When I saw him in the game last year, he just looked like a wide-eyed freshman. He may not be a superstar next year, but by his 4th year he should be a very good player at UNC.

  • Troy Wooten

    I think he”ll get better as the season progresses. All he needs is a CHANCE!

  • blak

    seems like the journalist is hating! could he be a dookie? he keep second guessing the guy when he says he is not as good as ty lawson at this point!