December 2, 2020

Independent analysis and commentary on UVA athletics

ACC Offseason Refresh – #4 North Carolina

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Last year was a generationally-disappointing season in Chapel Hill, not just struggling but finishing tied-for-last in the league. Injuries can be blamed to some degree, other players disappointed as well. The Tar Heels are looking at a big, talented freshmen class to take over the back court duties; will it be enough to let a talented front court shine and let the Heels bounce back?

Coach: Name; 885-253 in 32 Seasons Overall; 467-152 (202-88) in 17 seasons at School

2019-20 Record: 14-19 (6-14); T-13th in ACC

2019-20 KenPom Efficiency:

National: AdjO: 107.7 (77th of 353)
AdjD: 98.4 (94th of 353)
ACC: AdjO: 102.8 (6th of 15)
AdjD: 102.5 (11th of 15)

 

Roster Roundup

Departures:

PG Cole Anthony (Turned Pro)
22 G, 34.9 mpg, 18.5 ppg, 4 apg, 35% 3P%
PG Jeremiah Francis (Transferred to New Mexico)
16 G, 13.6 mpg, 3.3 ppg, 1.6 apg, 20% 3P%
SG Brandon Robinson (Graduated)
24 G, 30.2 mpg, 11.8 ppg, 2.4 apg, 37% 3P%
SG Christian Keeling (Graduated)
33 G, 19.2 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 0.6 apg, 32% 3P%
F Justin Pierce (Graduated)
32 G, 18.4 mpg, 5 ppg, 4 rpg, 23% 3P%
F/C Brandon Huffman (Transferred to Jacksonville State)
14 G, 3.7 mpg, 1.3 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 67% FG%

Returners:

G Anthony Harris (RS FR)
5 G, 12 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 0.6 apg, 43% 3P%
SG Andrew Platek (SR)
31 G, 18.1 mpg, 3.9 ppg, 1.4 apg, 23% 3P%
F Leaky Black (JR)
32 G, 29.7 mpg, 6.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 25% 3P%
F/C Armando Bacot (SO)
32 G, 24.5 mpg, 9.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 47% FG%
F/C Garrison Brooks (SR)
32 G, 34.9 mpg, 16.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 54% FG%

Additions:

PG Caleb Love (5-star FR)
PG RJ Davis (4-star FR)
G/F Kerwin Walton (4-star FR)
F Puff Johnson (4-star FR)
F/C Day’Ron Sharpe (5-star FR)
F/C Walker Kessler (5-star FR)

*Projected starters in bold

Outlook

The Tar Heels start by losing Cole Anthony to the NBA, Brandon Robinson and the low-impact grad transfers Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce to graduation, and bench players Jeremiah Francis and Brandon Huffman to transfer. The highlight is that the Heels are going to have a great big man rotation with HOOS Place preseason POY Garrison Brooks, returning 5-star sophomore Armando Bacot, and 5 star true freshmen bigs Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler rotating at the 4 and 5.

But the backcourt, last year’s Achilles heel where injuries to Cole Anthony, Brandon Robinson, and Anthony Harris compounded the ineffectiveness of Keeling and Francis, is a giant question mark. Is Caleb Love as Day-1 ready as Cole or Coby White were? I’m skeptical. Anthony Harris is coming off his second torn ACL in the last few years. Leaky Black has yet to put it all together. RJ Davis and Puff Johnson are good prospects at the 2 and 3 but hard to predict they kill it early. Roy’s best teams need veteran guards to make good decisions with the ball, and this team has none. And hard to expect those fresh faces to play great defense at the point of attack.

They’re getting a lot of preseason hype, but there’s an argument that this is a rebuilding year with 2021-22 in mind. UNC fans won’t love it, and pundits are giving that freshman class too much love, but it is what it is. They get Top 25 votes because of the name on their jersey, but even with elite bigs, you need guard play to win in today’s college basketball, and is the Love/Harris/Davis trio going to get it done against a gauntlet of deep, veteran ACC back courts?