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Are We Ready For This? North Carolina Basketball.

College Basketball is so exciting, but we are still understanding this new space of the transfer portal and recruiting/NIL all meshing together, as well as the oddity of Covid years being just about over. These rosters are undergoing crazy changes every year.

To truly evaluate these teams, we need to understand everyone who will be on the floor and how this differs from previous games. We are stuck in the past with our rankings, and that is what holds us back from acknowledging greatness as it plays out in front of our very eyes.

The portal is the most powerful thing in sports and can change everything for even the worst teams. The best example of this is obviously Coach Prime and the Colorado Buffaloes. I can’t wait to watch the same thing happen to many schools on the basketball court this season.

So we look at North Carolina two years ago, and they are a Final Four team. They fall short of the grand prize but still give us a run for the ages, and their dominance over Duke in Coach K’s last season at least gives them something to go home with.

The Starting Five:

  • RJ Davis
  • Caleb Love
  • Leaky Black
  • Brady Manek
  • Armando Bacot

Moving on to next season… Manek is a casualty of the college eligibility life cycle, and the entire sports world overlooks how much he meant to this team, ranking UNC as the #1 team in the country. I kept expecting UNC to “get things going” and climb up the rankings, but I wasn’t accepting what was really taking place. UNC had a lack of shooting.

Manek got Summer League run and went crazy in the tournament. Why were we overlooking this? Why did we expect Leaky Black and Pete Nance to somehow develop this level of shooting/scoring?

The result of this oversight was one of the “most disappointing seasons ever,” but only in the eyes of the people who unfairly put these expectations on the Tar Heels. Flash forward, and Caleb Love is gone, Leaky Black is gone, and there are so many changes to this UNC team.

It’s time to rank, forecast, and predict for this coming season, and I’m surprised not to see UNC as a consensus Top 5/Top 10 team. UNC is going to be special.

RJ Davis is back as one of the most experienced players in college basketball, and center Armando Bacot joins him with that same title. This is the one-two punch, but depth/shooting should be the saving grace for the Tar Heels this season. Enter freshman Elliot Cadeau, who will be competing with Stephon Castle and Elmarko Jackson, to show us who the best guard in this freshman class is.

Even with the great run the Tar Heels went on, it’s very possible that Elliot Cadeau will have more draft buzz than Caleb Love ever did. His point guard presence should activate productive off-ball work for RJ Davis.

Cormac Ryan and Paxson Wojcik give UNC the shooting they didn’t have last year. Harrison Ingram gives them lineup flexibility. He can play the 4, which allows Cormac to be in the starting lineup, or he can play the 3 and let Jalen Washington slide in next to Bacot for a much bigger look.

Ingram possesses a crafty offensive game and has shown the ability to knock down the three-ball. Additionally, he is a plus defender with a plus Assist/Turnover Ratio. Former Top 25 overall recruit.

Seth Trimble has been in the system as well as Washington, and I have confidence that they will make great additions to the rotation. Trimble’s role for the upcoming season could also be a reason why Simeon Wilcher elected to de-commit and will be at St. John’s this upcoming season. Louisville transfer Jae’Llyn Withers, Top 100 Freshman Zayden High, and sophomore James Okonkwo are other potential contributors to the rotation.

In my mind, This UNC team has the upside to challenge Duke for the ACC. I like the starting lineup, but when looking for a championship team, Carolina seems to have the makeup with the combination of a great starting lineup and true depth. I believe in the North Carolina Tar Heels.


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