What’s next for UNC basketball as Hubert Davis remakes Tar Heels’ roster?
It’s been a whirlwind two weeks for North Carolina basketball.
Coming off a 20-13 record that saw the Tar Heels go from preseason No. 1 to missing the NCAA Tournament and declining to play in the NIT, UNC has seen six of its players enter the transfer portal since it opened on March 13.
The Tar Heels are reshaping and rebuilding their roster ahead of Hubert Davis’ third season with the program. For the first time during his tenure, UNC’s coach will get to remake the roster how he wants.
Here’s a look at where the Tar Heels stand ahead of Final Four weekend and what they need to do in the offseason to bounce back from a disappointing year.
Armando Bacot and RJ Davis are back
Despite the chaos surrounding the transfer portal, UNC was able to breathe a sigh of relief with the announcements that two starters – RJ Davis and Armando Bacot – would be returning to lead the Tar Heels next season.
Bacot averaged 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds in 32 games last season. With 50 double-double performances in the last two years, Bacot’s dominance on the interior can’t be overstated for a team that sorely needs his consistent production. The key for Bacot, UNC’s all-time leading rebounder, is overcoming injury issues. When he’s healthy, Bacot is among the best players in the country.
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The return of RJ Davis provides UNC with a proven lead guard. He averaged 16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as a junior. More importantly, Davis is a career 35% shooter from 3-point range, which gives the Tar Heels some much-needed consistency from beyond the arc after one of their worst shooting seasons in program history.
Now, Hubert Davis will be tasked with finding three starters to surround UNC’s dynamic duo.
Moving on from Caleb Love
So far, six players from UNC’s 2022-23 squad have entered the transfer portal. Combo guard Caleb Love is the most notable departure after scoring nearly 1,500 points in three seasons with the Tar Heels. Justin McKoy, Tyler Nickel, Puff Johnson, Dontrez Styles and Will Shaver are the other former Tar Heels looking for a new home.
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Love’s performance in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, particularly his second-half show against UCLA in the Sweet 16 and the 3-point dagger against Duke at the Final Four, won’t soon be forgotten. But Love’s efficiency as a junior made him an easy target for blame as he shot 29.9% from 3-point range and averaged nearly the same amount of assists (2.8) as turnovers (2.4) per game.
Moving on seemed like the best decision for UNC and Love.
UNC needs wings, 3-point shooters
Following the commitment of Brown transfer Paxson Wojcik, the Tar Heels have five available scholarships and the continued need to add multiple wings and 3-point shooters.
The 6-foot-5 Wojcik checks one of those boxes as a 38% three-point shooter, but Hubert Davis still has work to do.
With Leaky Black and Pete Nance having exhausted their eligibility, the Tar Heels need to find starters/reserves capable of knocking down 3s and defending multiple positions.
Combo guard Seth Trimble and forward Jalen Washington, a pair of sophomores, have a chance to take another step forward, and junior guard D’Marco Dunn figures to have an increased role, but the Heels remain in need of some rangy, athletic wings.
Towson transfer Nick Timberlake is reportedly a target, which would provide UNC with another shooter, but his 6-4 frame doesn’t fit the mold of a typical wing. The Tar Heels won’t lack options in the portal, but making the right choices as they relate to the 3-4 spots in the lineup will be vital to the team’s success next season.
Staff writer Rodd Baxley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @RoddBaxley on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: UNC basketball: What's next for Tar Heels as Hubert Davis rebuilds roster