The Tar Heels crumbled last season under recurring issues of depth. Freshman Cole Anthony was the main focus of hope during the preseason, but it was the consistent and reliable play of frontcourt duo Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot that carried the load for North Carolina when the games started. Brooks received the conference’s Most Improved Player award for his efforts, after producing 8.9 points per game (16.8 PPG) more than his previous best (7.9 PPG).
Despite signing one of the top recruiting classes in 2020, the return of both Brooks and Bacot give UNC a great starting point to pound opponents inside and maintain elite-level rebounding production.
Starting point is the key phrasing because the Tar Heels managed to finish 2nd in the nation rebounding the ball utilizing only Brooks and Bacot in the frontcourt. The 2020 recruiting class is not only built to correct the issues in the backcourt, but it has added significant depth behind the returning duo of bigs.
5-star centers Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler will arrive in Chapel Hill ready to immediately contribute in any way Coach Williams needs. The outlook to crack the rotation would understandably not be great taking into account the production of Brooks and Bacot ahead of them, but the freshman offers unique tweaks to the Tar Heel offense that could pay huge dividends down the road.
Aside from the obvious rebounding advantages of signing a 6’11” (Sharpe) and 7’1” (Kessler) frontcourt duo, the top-20 talents have a proven ability to stretch the floor shooting the ball and possess the lateral quickness to guard several positions. In UNC’s typical pick-and-roll scheme, based around accentuating the talents of its guards, rolling forwards receive passes in the mid-range area with room to catch and shoot.
However Kessler, and to a lesser extent, Sharpe can successfully extend their shooting range to the 3-point line as a ‘pop’ option. This spacing will also be beneficial to Brooks and Bacot whose talents make them more adept to take advantage of isolating their defenders on the block and playing physically towards the rim.
These added options will drastically reduce the pressure on Carolina’s freshman guards to carry the team and will open the floor for everyone to get cleaner looking shots. The Tar Heels will be a much more dynamic group on both ends of the court entering the 2020 season.