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Heel Tough Blog: Harrison Ingram to Maintain College Eligibility While in Draft Process

Jacob Kupferman- Getty Images

On Saturday, Tar Heels junior forward Harrison Ingram announced that he was entering the NBA Draft, seemingly ending his career in Chapel Hill. Earlier today, however, a report came out opening the door back up for a possible return next season.

College basketball insider Jon Rothstein is reporting that Ingram intends to stay in the NBA Draft, but does plan to maintain his college eligibility as he goes through the process. This is contrary to what the original belief about his decision was, which was that he was turning pro with an agent, meaning he would not be able to return.

 Ingram arrived as a transfer from Stanford and was an integral part of UNC’s season, which ended in the Sweet 16 but was highlighted by a regular season sweep of Duke, along with an ACC regular season title. Ingram averaged 12.2 points, and 8.8 rebounds for the Tar Heels and was the leading rebounder in the ACC during conference play on his way to earning All-ACC third-team honors.

This year’s NBA Draft features to be among the weakest in recent memory, and with that, Ingram has steadily climbed mock drafts since the college basketball season concluded. With him being mocked as an early second-round pick with the potential to work his way into the back end of the first round, it’s hard to be upset with Ingram’s decision to not return for 2024-25 if he sticks with it. If he is to return, though, it would give the Tar Heels an important piece that could position them as one of the favorites to win the national title, especially if RJ Davis was to return for his super senior season.

While the idea of Ingram returning is exciting, there has to be some concern about what this could do to the contingency plan for if he leaves. Kentucky transfer Adou Thiero is a guy that fits the role that Ingram held a year ago to a tee and he is starting to narrow down his decision. The possibility of Ingram returning may now play a big factor in the Tar Heels chances in the Thiero race and could be what ultimately ends up costing them his services since Ingram has until May 29th to make his official draft decision. 

The effect on the Thiero race is why this news is so conflicting. On the one hand, the Tar Heels could get back a guy that could be a key piece to one of the better teams in the country. On the other hand, they could miss out on a piece that could fill his shoes if he takes his time and ultimately chooses not to come back.

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