After undergoing major roster overhaul, UNC Basketball has plenty of new faces in the mix and only finite minutes to go around. Here’s a look at how next year’s rotation could shake out.
The last few weeks of the 2018-2019 men’s college basketball season and the weeks that followed the NCAA Tournament’s conclusion can only be described as a roller coaster of emotions for UNC Basketball.
Elation and excitement that came with capturing a share of the ACC regular season title turned into shock and sorrow following a Sweet 16 upset at the hands of a scrappy Auburn team, an upset that prematurely ended a season that was marked by exceeded expectations.
Coby White and Nassir Little were expected to be productive freshmen, but White’s explosive scoring punch (that would see him rise from quiet five-star recruit to NBA lottery pick) went far beyond what was originally expected of the freshman guard.
Cameron Johnson, entering his second year as a Tar Heel after transferring as a graduate student in 2017, was expected to step into a larger role, and, with his hip healthy following surgery, was expected to be a strong offensive contributor. Yet, he wasn’t merely good, he was great, posting astronomical advanced stats and efficiency numbers as one of the nation’s prolific perimeter marksman.
North Carolina, although a routine favorite to do well in the ACC, was expected by many to enter a down season following the graduation of Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson, two key contributors from the 2017 championship team. And yet, the Tar Heels exceeded expectations as a team, from regular season success to a solid postseason run.
But a Sweet 16 defeat, although perfectly fine for any program considering what it takes to advance in the Big Dance, is still a sour way to end the season, especially when it led to questions that weighed heavily on the hearts and minds of UNC fans and personnel alike.
Six players, all key contributors, would depart the program — Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson, and Kenny Williams to graduation; Coby White and Nassir Little to the NBA Draft; and, eventually, Seventh Woods as a transfer. Six of the team’s top seven rotation players, gone, with only one starter remaining, and only two recruits locked in with summer rapidly approaching.
The few weeks following the end of the season were a tad bit gloomy, admittedly, as it was a serious possibility that next year would be a rebuilding season.
But, yet again, the Tar Heels exceeded expectations, with Roy Williams securing the services of two highly-sought after recruits and a pair of talented graduate transfers that, together, have made for a brand new rotation full of depth at every position.
Although White, Little, Johnson, Maye, Williams, and Woods are gone, plenty of fresh faces are coming into the fold: Five-star combo (i.e., point) guard Cole Anthony, five-star center Armando Bacot, four-star combo guard Anthony Harris, three-star point guard Jeremiah Francis, and graduate transfers Christian Keeling (SG) and Justin Pierce (SF).
With the roster complete, it’s now up to coach Roy Williams to figure out the rotation. Who will start? Who will come off the bench? How many minutes should he ultimately give the plucky group of young talent?
He has his work cut out for him, but he has the luxury of managing a roster full of talent and depth, Projecting the rotation isn’t an exact science, but, based on the current availability of talent and experience, as well as Williams’ history with how he made his rotations, it’s possible to at least come up with a general baseline for how each player will be used next season.
Without further ado, here’s a look at the 2019-2020 UNC rotation.