Lucas: Quick reactions to player announcement

By Adam Lucas

1. It’s going to be fun. Caleb Love’s Today’s announcement of his return for the 2022-23 season means all four eligible Iron Five members will be back for next season. This ensures the Tar Heels will be among the top three preseason picks by consensus for only the second time in the last ten seasons (the other was the 2015-16 season, when the Tar Heels started the season as a as best pre-season team in the country).

2. The schedule will probably suit the best team in the country. Carolina will play the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland Nov. 24-27, a 16-team stacked event that features two separate eight-team brackets. Half of Carolina’s squad, which has already been announced, includes Alabama, Iowa State, Michigan State, Oregon, Portland, UConn and Villanova (the women’s team in charge of Tar Heel will also compete in a four-team women’s event at the same location). The Heels are also likely due for a road game – in what is sure to be one of the showpiece games of the event – in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and a destination and upcoming game in the CBS Sports Classic. Keep in mind that Hubert Davis also expressed a frequent preference for the Tar Heels to regularly play a game in New York.

3. A previous ACC announcement indicated that the three-year schedule matrix would repeat beginning with the 2022-23 season. If so, that should mean the Tar Heels will have home-and-away games with Notre Dame, Pitt, Virginia and Wake Forest. In this scenario, the Heels would have road games only with Florida State, Louisville, Syracuse and Virginia Tech, with home meetings only with Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami.

4. And, of course, this ACC regular season roster would be capped off with what should be an epic battle against Duke on a Saturday. If both teams play until preseason screenings, and given that this could be the last home appearance for some Tar Heel favorites, this could be one of the hottest Smith Center tickets over the course of the year. of the last decade.

5. The decisions of Armand Bacot and Caleb Love, in particular, highlight the new era of college basketball. It used to be that the decision to turn professional leaned heavily financially in favor of professional gaming. In 2022, however, the equation is quite different. The race to the 2022 national championship game and the storybook victory over Duke, combined with the new NIL rules, have catapulted Tar Heel players into a new marketing sphere. They took advantage of it, and it made their decision to come back easier.

6. As you think about next season – which we will probably be doing every day by mid-November – keep in mind that players and coaches have unanimously declared the presence of Brady Manek that’s what made the difference this year from a spacing point of view. We all know what the four returning starters can do. Ultimately, the success of the 2023 season could be determined by the improvements of the Tar Heel reserves who will compete for that starting fifth spot and the rest of the rotation, as well as the incoming freshmen. Dontrez Styles and Johnson puff both played a few key minutes in the 2022 tournament. Johnson’s three-point shot would be a major asset, and Styles possesses elite athleticism. Justin Mc Koy given Hubert Davis a taller body that can defend taller players inside, and D’Marco Dunn must make the frequent jump from the first to the second year.

7. Perhaps the biggest question will be the progress of Kerwin Walton, who stepped back in his second campaign after an encouraging first year. Walton needs to make significant improvements in defense and attack. But he has shown the ability to shoot from the outside at a productive ACC level, a skill that would make him a valuable asset if he can take the other steps.

8. And what about Tar Heel freshmen? Seth Trimble gets the immediate advantage of going against Caleb Love and RD Davis every day in training, a training ground that will make him much better in his save minutes and then in a much bigger role in his second year. If he’s healthy and ready to contribute, Jalen Washington may be playing the position that needs it the most, as he could give a big man some quality minutes. Tyler Nickel will experience a major competitive breakthrough, but Hubert Davis likes its competitiveness. And Go Shave made the wise decision to spend the spring semester training with the Tar Heels, and will have to continue to work hard with Jonas Sahratian to play meaningful minutes this season.

9. Because Someone Will Ask: The return of love means the Tar Heels are currently maxed out at 13 scholarships. This eliminates the need to chase players from the transfer portal.

10. Just a word of warning. There are no guarantees. It’s true that the Tar Heels are bringing back four key plays from one of the most fun tournaments of the 21st century. It’s as true as Hubert DavisThe evolution as a head coach and tactician has been one of the main reasons why Carolina has been so successful. But college basketball is now in a new era. The four players will essentially have three full-time jobs over the next 12 months: they will play a Division 1 sport at the highest level possible, they will be students and they will be a businessman who will market himself and his opportunities. NO. It’s something Phil Ford or Eric Montross or even Marcus Paige never had to worry.

How they balance those three functions and maintain the chemistry of the past month that made the 2022 team so dangerous will ultimately determine a lot for 2023. Much of the push to national title play proved everyone wrong. (you can find out more about that in the new book, Together, which goes to print this week and features new interviews with the five starting Tar Heels more Hubert Davis). There will be no doubt this pre-season. Expectations will be very different for 2023.

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