Countdown to College Basketball: #10 North Carolina Tar Heels

Roy Williams’ career has come to an end, and North Carolina is turning to top assistant Hubert Davis to lead the program going forward. It should not be forgotten that Roy Williams is one of the greatest coaches in College Basketball history, winning 3 National Championships, 2 National Coach of the year awards, 903 games, and being a Naismith Hall of Famer. While Williams’ career was nothing short of exceptional, North Carolina will now move on to this season where they add in some good transfers to an emerging group or younger players to lead this team into the future. This team will look to pick up right where Williams left off and be a National Championship contender while hoping to add a program’s seventh National Championship this season. 

The Championship aspirations begin and end with Caleb Love having a big breakout season. While I personally got a lot of flack for having him as a Top-20 player in my Top-100 player rankings, I stand by it as he should take a big leap forward this season. Love has all the skills that you could want in a lead guard, he’s quick and athletic, a good passer, a capable scorer and shooter, who just was too inconsistent a season ago but he did get better throughout the season. With a full offseason and not some Covid induced shortened offseason, he’ll have more time to develop, grow as a player, and with that, he could become a 15 and 5 type of player this season. 

Inside, Armando Bacot returns as the team’s reigning leading scorer, and while North Carolina had maybe too many bigs a season ago, Bacot was the best of the bunch. Bacot is a 6’10 forward that is a good interior scorer, rebounder, and defender, and while he doesn’t space the floor, he protects the paint at a high level. A pair of transfers in Dawson Garcia (Marquette) and Brady Manek (Oklahoma) look to be perfect modern-day fours for this roster. Garcia is a high upside piece, the 6’11 forward is a good shooter, while he possesses the athleticism to switch defensively, although he still has room to develop as an interior scorer, and as a shot-blocker. Manek is a proven role player, best known for being Trae Young’s pick and pop partner his freshman season, Manek will provide valuable experience, proven production, and additional floor spacing at the 4 spot. The Heels also add in Virginia forward Justin McKoy, who is a versatile player who can be a good interior scorer and maybe provide some outside shooting as well. 

At the guard spot, Kerwin Walton provides the team with a bullseye shooter that can knock down shots at a high level. He played limited minutes at the start of the season but when he got his minutes, his shooting became key for UNC. RJ Davis is a combo guard that was inconsistent a season ago, Davis had his big performances but also had games where he was a no-show, which in that sense, makes him a perfect sixth man. Leaky Black never really has emerged as a shooter but does provide defensive versatility and the ability to create offense off the dribble, which makes him a capable role player. Anthony Harris is a 6’4 guard that has battled injuries in the past but should he stay healthy, he will be a productive piece. Filling out the rotation will be Puff Johnson, younger brother of Cam Johnson, who will provide a similar skill set as a three-and-D wing that can space the floor, while being a versatile defender. 

This North Carolina team has a dominant frontcourt and one that will translate to modern-day College Basketball, which is something to be excited about. While Bacot isn’t a great shooter, he will primarily play as the interior option offensively which allows Manek and Garcia to play on the perimeter, which both are capable of doing. The ultimate key for this team comes with its backcourt, Caleb Love must take a step forward and be like he was in the Duke games all season long. For the Tar Heels to have high levels of success, Love needs to limit turnovers, while being a more consistent three-point shooter will be big for this team. The rest of the rotation will also need to take a bit of a step forward by helping space the floor and playing tough team defense. 

This team should be a Top-25 team at the bare minimum, Hubert Davis has a good roster that will play tough defense, rebound at a high level and take advantage of their major size advantage. The difference in this team’s success comes down to guard play. If Love, Davis, and Walton can become a three-headed scoring punch that provides consistent offense, floor-spacing, and defense, this team can win a National Championship. If the Sophomore class remains around the same as a season ago, they still will make the NCAA Tournament but they won’t be any sort of title threat. 

Projected Rotation 

PG: Caleb Love

SG: Kerwin Walton

SF: Leaky Black

PF: Dawson Garcia 

C: Armando Bacot 

B1: Brady Manek

B2: RJ Davis

B3: Puff Johnson

B4: Justin McKoy

B5: Anthony Harris

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