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They found something finer than North Carolina

David and Travis Wear and Larry Drew II left the Tar Heels to come home to play basketball for UCLA. There were several factors for their decisions to transfer.

May 28, 2011|By Ben Bolch

Drew said he had no reservations about the timing of his exit. "I feel like if I have other options, I should be able to explore them," he said. "By transferring, if I feel like if there's something out there better for me that I could pursue, I'm going to do it."

The exodus of the Wear twins and Drew in a 10-month span was disappointing for Williams, who said he had only three players transfer and another leave by mutual agreement in his first 20 years as a college coach.

One of the transfers was Alex Stepheson, a former North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake standout who left North Carolina for USC in 2008 so that he could be closer to his ailing father.

Not every Southern California native who becomes a Tar Heel decides to leave. Thompson, a three-year starter who played in two Final Fours and set an NCAA record by playing in 152 games, said he relished wearing Carolina blue.

"Chapel Hill is always going to be a special place to me," said Thompson, who recently completed his first season with Ikaros Esperos of the Greek A-1 League.

Drew and the Wear twins will soon wear a different shade of blue. The Wears will be sophomores and eligible to play for UCLA next season. Drew will utilize his final year of eligibility in 2012-13 after sitting out a year.

"I'm just glad they decided this was going to be a better fit for them than being that far away," Bruins Coach Ben Howland said.

He's not the only one.

"Every day I wake up, I'm just really thankful to be here. It's a second chance, so to speak," Drew said. "I'm home on top of that. I have everybody I've ever known, basically, out here.

"I don't think you appreciate what you have until it's gone, what we had here in L.A. Now we're back and we're going to try to make the most of it."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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