There was a glitch in the infamous re-creation during North Carolina’s 1981 Sports Illustrated cover pre-season photo shoot: The returning players – RJ Davis, Caleb Love, Leakey Black and Armando Backot – original photo from Jimmy Black, Matt Copied the pose of Doherty, Sam Perkins and James Worthy, but current head coach Hubert Davis, a lefty, stood like Dean Smith and pretended to draw up a play with his right hand.
That mess turned out to be an omen for the Tar Heels’ season, and not in a good way.
Something was wrong with the pitch, and, it turns out, something was wrong with UNC’s entire season, which came to an unceremonious end Sunday as the Tar Heels completed their fall from the NCAA’s preseason No. 1 to “first four outs.” Did. Tournament.
“We have a lot of people who are hurt, they are sad and motivated,” Hubert Davis said on his radio show Monday night. “And obviously you don’t want to go through that, and you want to play an NCAA tournament, but I really believe that’s going to be the driving force for that hunger and thirst that you need to be the best you can be.” ” Happen. I know it’s only March but I’m really excited to start next season with next year’s team and it’s going to be a great season.
Next season’s roster could look vastly different than the group that ended this season, and the transition to next season has already begun, which is why Davis said the team declined to play in the National Invitation Tournament. done.
Davis said, “Every decision that I make, whether it’s personnel or the team or whatever, is filtered through what’s in the best interest of the program.” “I thought the best thing for this program was to start the process right now in terms of teaming up and building this program and changing the directions that we all want.”
Who’s Leaving Chapel Hill?
Forward Justin McCoy, who transferred to UNC after playing two years at Virginia, has one year of eligibility remaining and is entering the transfer portal as a graduate transfer who can play immediately.
Freshman Tyler Nickell also entered the transfer portal with three seasons of eligibility remaining. The 6-foot-7 forward appeared in 25 games, but only averaged 6.1 minutes per game. Harrisonburg, Va. Nickell, a native of the U.S., finished high school as the all-time leading scorer in Virginia history. He shot just 6 of 27 from 3-point range for the Heels.
Black and Pete Nance would both not return after their eligibility expired.
Black tied a program record for most games played at UNC with 154. He played five years, and is unlikely to be drafted, but has intrigued NBA scouts enough to see where he will be a sought-after free agent to sign for training camp.
Nance came to UNC as a graduate transfer aiming to make his first NCAA tournament after four seasons at Northwestern. Nance had the misfortune of being Brady Manek’s replacement player in the lineup, and his one season with the Heels didn’t end the way he had hoped.
Armando Backot’s decision will have a big impact on what the frontcourt looks like for next season. The Heels’ all-time leading rebounder could return for a fifth season thanks to the NCAA’s COVID-19 exemption for the 2020-21 season.
Bacot’s decision may again depend on those who want to take advantage of the void (name, image and likeness) opportunities. His skill set does not fit the current mold of NBA bigs because he lacks perimeter play, and he will likely go undrafted.
Carolina Beckot may return to her core of Love and RJ Davis, though it wouldn’t be surprising if Love decides she’s had enough.
No one received more criticism for how the season went than Love, who took more shots than last season (26.2 compared to 28.4), even with his shooting percentage from 3-point range. decreased to 29.9 percent as compared to the previous 36 percent. Season.
the bench matters
McCoy and Nickle may not be the last to go elsewhere.
Hubert Davis spoke openly about his desire to develop a bench in the offseason. UNC ranked 360 out of 363 Division I teams in percentage of bench minutes according to Ken Pomeroy. Carolina’s reserves played 18.3 percent of the remaining minutes.
Davis said, “Where you earn your minutes is in practice, and you stack up the plays in practice and that gives me the confidence to put you in the game.” “And then Stack plays into the game and it keeps you in the game. It’s been consistent with me, if you play well in practice, I’ll put you in a game and if I put you in a game and you play well, I’ll keep you in the game.
Sophomore Deontrez Stiles’ career highlight as a freshman was scoring the first basket on a 3-pointer in overtime against Baylor that helped UNC avoid a second-round NCAA tournament collapse. Instead of being able to build on that moment in his second year, he actually appeared in just over half the games. He played in 30 as a freshman and just 15 this season. Should the Kinston native decide to relocate, that’s probably the reason.
“I’m still trying to figure it out,” Styles told The Brian Hanks Show in Kinston. “… I should have a decision by next week at the latest.”
Sophomore guard D’Marco Dunn saw his playing time increase to an average of 10.3 minutes per game and he averaged 2.7 points per game. But Dunn, like freshman guard Seth Trimble, saw his role as a regular in the rotation early in the season from their January 14 win at Louisville through the end of the season.
Hubert Davis tightened his rotation down a stretch of the season where Puff Johnson was the only bench player consistently logging 10 or more minutes off the bench.
Trimble appeared in every game this season and started twice when Nance was out with a back injury. Trimble played 10 or more minutes in 14 games before the Louisville game, but only once after that. The combination of Dunn, Nickell, Styles, McCoy, Trimble and Jalen Washington played a total of 10 games in double-figure minutes after January 14.
Davis said that the bench rotation was occasionally thrown out partly because of injuries as some players were unavailable for certain games.
Davis said, “I thought this year we were always trying to find a combination off the bench that worked and sometimes I got it wrong.” “And most of the time, or sometimes I get it right and it’s something I’m continuing to learn as a second year head coach.”
Washington should expect a bigger role next season, assuming he stays. NBA scouts touted the 6-foot-10 freshman forward as the best prospect on the roster.
Washington was injured to start the season and missed the first nine games. He showed glimpses of his potential filling in when Becott was injured in their loss at Virginia. Washington’s 13 points and six rebounds in 27 minutes were all-season highs.
He played 19 minutes in the next win at Louisville. But those two games were the highlight – Washington only played a combined 47 minutes in the season’s remaining 15 games.
Who is joining the roster?
6-foot-4 combo guard Simeon Wilcher out of Roselle, NJ is rated No. 29 overall in the Class of 2023 by 247 Sports overall rankings.
Jaden High, the 6-foot-9 power forward from Spring Branch, Texas, is ranked No. 53. Joined high class late. Carolina didn’t begin pursuing him until after learning GG Jackson, who had once committed to UNC and was the No. 1 player in the class, reclassified to 2022 and delisted to play at South Carolina.
North Carolina could delve into the transfer portal to add a veteran shooter off the wing, or it could look for a player who is reclassified from its four 2024 recruiting commitments. The class is currently ranked No. 1 in 247 sports composites.
Whatever the Heels choose, they just know that next season can’t end like their last.
“I’m excited to see how the third year turns out,” Davis said. “But I know it will be different from the first and second.”