The Hurricanes lose a lot from last years team but they have rebuilt this team pretty well and look poised to make another NCAA Tournament. The Hurricanes lost Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown to the NBA and Ja’Quan Newton to graduation but they have rebuilt well. The Hurricanes will look for breakout seasons from multiple players, while transfers Zach Johnson and Miles Wilson should help out in the backcourt. On paper, this team isn’t great but you can never count out Jim Larranaga helping the Hurricanes to another NCAA Tournament appearance.
In the backcourt, the Hurricanes will have multiple options to run at the first two positions, while Anthony Lawrence should be a solid piece at the 3 spot. Sophomore Chris Lykes I think should start at the point guard position, likely being a key double-digit scorer every night and a good defender. Zach Johnson could start next to him, which is helpful as he can play both on and off the ball and could help bring some experience to this team. Dejan Vasiljevic is a terrific shooter and is another option to start if the Hurricanes decided they want him to start. Anthony Lawrence will start at Small Forward but he does have the length and versatility to play a small-ball four position if the Hurricanes need him to late in games. Miles Wilson adds some more shooting and size at the shooting guard position, making him a valuable piece. Overall this is one of the deeper backcourts in the ACC, which should help the Hurricanes contend in the ACC.
The Hurricanes have a lot of size upfront, which should help the Hurricanes be one of the best interior teams defensively. The Hurricanes will look at Dewan Huell to put up big numbers inside, likely becoming a double-double threat this season. Ebuka Izundu has shown the ability to be a good rebounder and finisher inside but will be asked to play more minutes this season. Deng Gak brings some more length inside and has the ability to shoot jumpers, both tools could be helpful for the Hurricanes. Sam Waardenburg is a good stretch four, who can knock down jumpers, which should be helpful for the Hurricanes. Overall, this front court is deep with many different players that can help out inside but it is also an unproven front court to this point.
The Hurricanes have a pretty easy non-conference schedule, which should allow them to stock up on wins before heading into the NCAA Tournament. The Hurricanes open with three buy games before heading to the Wooden Classic, a field that contains Northwestern, Seton Hall, and Utah. They’ll play Penn in the Palestra, other than that they won’t leave the City of Miami, which means they’ll have to get their wins in ACC play. In the ACC the Hurricanes will probably struggle at the start but the schedule does open up late which should help the Hurricanes make a late season run.
What to expect this season
The Hurricanes will likely start the season off well, I think having a chance to go undefeated in non-conference play. Once ACC play begins it will be a tough road but I think this team should manage to go around 9-9 in ACC play which should get the Hurricanes into the NCAA Tournament. Assuming some of the young players come along like expected and the veterans can continue to produce this is a team that should be a pretty good team in the ACC.
PG: Chris Lykes
SG: Zach Johnson
SF: Anthony Lawrence II
PF: Dewan Huell
C: Ebuka Izundu
Key Reserves: Dejan Vasiljevic, Miles Wilson, Deng Gak, Sam Waardenburg