(Todd Melet)

Carolina has had more players leave for the NBA than Duke.

That’s right, you heard me. In Roy Williams’ UNC tenure, the Tar Heels have lost 17 players to pro basketball before their classes graduated. Duke has had 16, from Luol Deng in 2004 to Jayson Tatum last year and more famous names in between.

Roy Williams threw out that little ditty at his pre-Duke press conference Tuesday, and dad gum if he isn’t right after checking. It began with four from his 2005 championship team, and someone has left early in all but four seasons since. If you go back an even 15 years and include Dahntay Jones from Duke in 2003, the count is tied at 17 apiece.

Now, we’re not talking about one-and-dones here, which Kentucky and Duke lead the world in. Carolina has only had three of those under Ol’ Roy – Marvin Williams, Brandan Wright and Tony Bradley – and four in the program’s history if you include Robert McAdoo after the 1972 season. Heck, Duke had three one-and-dones leave twice, last year and after the 2015 NCAA title.

We’re also not talking transfers, which Duke leads the solar system in, if you research how many Blue Devils have left for other schools. They have already had one go this season in four-star freshman Jordan Tucker, who departed for Butler after the first semester. Someone has transferred almost every year as far back as you want to look.

Now, Duke will move ahead after this season, since the Heels start two seniors, two solid juniors and their own transfer. The freshmen are still projects to this point, so no one is leaving early while Duke has at least two who will make their first and only appearance at the Smith Center Thursday night.

Williams said he recruited power forward Wendell Carter, Jr., and talked to the father of center Marvin Bagley III before he reclassified from a junior in high school to a senior with a few summer school courses. Can you imagine number 35 with the man beard being only 18 years old? The ACC’s leading scorer and rebounder looks like he can be an NBA all-star right now.

According to Williams, Bagley and Carter are a “real load.” If he’s figured out how to stop those 6’10” beasts from staging a Dean Dome dunk-a-thon, he hasn’t tipped his hand yet. The famous teetotaler may be as likely to tip a couple of beers back before coming up with that answer. Suggestions welcomed!