Saturday, December 15, 2012

Giovani Bernard Declares for the NFL Draft

(Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

On Friday, the redshirted Tar Heel sophomore  Giovani Bernard, declared for the NFL draft. Bernard leaves after an amazing season in which he rushed for 1228 yards and 12 touchdowns, both a mark that is down from last season, but he put up those numbers on fewer carries, he also had 47 receptions for 490 yards and five touchdowns. He might be best remembered by Tar Heel fans for his punt return ability as he returned 16 punts for 263 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner against rival NC State to break a five game losing streak to the Wolfpack.

Early projections have Bernard as the number one ranked running back and an early second round pick by CBS Sports. Once draft day arrives in late April there is a very good chance that Bernard will be firmly planted as a first round pick as his quickness and versatility as a valuable commodity in today's NFL. He will have to prove in his predraft workouts that his 2010 ACL injury is a distant past and that his athletic ability and talent is worthy of a first round pick.

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Raymond Felton, New York Knicks, Point Guard 2.0

  In the 2010-11 NBA Season Raymond Felton left Charlotte, via free agency to join the Knicks, for the bright lights of Broadway and Madison Square Garden. For the first time in his life he made his home somewhere other than the Carolinas. Felton, who grew up in South Carolina and played high school ball for a small high school in Latta, he played his college ball in Chapel Hill and was drafted in 2005 by the Charlotte Bobcats.

  In his first season with the Knicks Felton was averaging a career high in points and assists at 17.1 and 9.0 respectively. He looked very comfortable in New York and looked like the same floor general he was in Chapel Hill.

  After 54 games in New York, the Knicks made a blockbuster trade with the Denver Nuggets landing perrinial All-Star, Carmelo Anthony. It was a chance for the Knicks to build their own big three with Carmelo, Amare Stoudamire and another free agent in the next two off seasons. The trade shipped Felton to Denver to backup former Tar Heel, Ty Lawson. Felton said of the trade, "I was sick. I never wanted to leave New York. At the same time, I had to do my job." Felton, was a team player and finished the season with decent play coming off the bench in Denver.

  On the night of the 2011 draft Felton was traded again, this time to the Portland Trailblazers. This seemed like a great opportunity as Felton was a starter again and Portland had decent talent around him. As New York was experiencing Lin-Sanity, Felton was experiencing the worst season of his basketball career. He finished the season with a career low, 11.4 points per game.

  Felton entered another off season, but this time his NBA future was in question. But then the Houston Rockets made an offer to the Knicks point guard, Jeremy Lin, who was restricted free agent, that the Knicks front office felt they could not match and had to let their point guard of the future walk. The Knicks needed to find a new starting point guard and worked out a sign and trade with the Portland Trailblazers to bring Felton back to New York.

This season Felton looks like he never left New York. He is averaging almost 16 points and 7 assist per game. He is back to being a leader and has helped the Knicks to an Eastern Conference best 17-5 record.

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