- Associated Press - Friday, February 4, 2011

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina point guard Larry Drew II has left the program, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Friday.

Drew has is en route to Atlanta where his father is coach of the NBA’s Hawks, the person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the school had not officially announced Drew’s departure.

The junior had recently lost his starting position to freshman Kendall Marshall, a move that has coincided with the No. 23 Tar Heels’ rise to the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference alongside reigning national champion Duke. Drew’s departure means that sophomore starter Dexter Strickland, who saw time at the point last year, will have to take on more ball-handling responsibilities behind Marshall.

Drew was averaging just 4.4 points and 3.9 assists, though he had performed well off the bench after Marshall took over following an ugly 20-point loss at Georgia Tech.

The news of Drew’s withdrawal from UNC was first reported by ESPN.

Drew has mostly struggled since taking the reins from Ty Lawson from the 2009 NCAA championship team. Drew started 36 games and became a subject of fan frustration during last year’s 17-loss season. He started the first 17 games this season before coach Roy Williams switched to Marshall.

But Drew had tallied 18 assists with two turnovers in the last three games while drawing praise from Williams for his perimeter defense, which even had him playing alongside Marshall in stretches.

The Tar Heels (16-5, 6-1 ACC) have won nine of 10 games, including all four since Marshall became the starter. They’re coming off Tuesday’s 106-74 win at Boston College in which Drew had nine assists and one turnover in 19 minutes.

North Carolina hosts Florida State on Sunday, then travels to Cameron Indoor Stadium to face No. 5 Duke on Wednesday night.

Drew’s future college plans are unknown at this time.

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AP Sports Writer Oscar Dixon in Atlanta contributed to this report.