UNC Basketball: 2020-21 season preview for the Tar Heels

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UNC Basketball

UNC Basketball (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

After a downtrodden 14-19 season, UNC Basketball is hoping to turn things around after bringing in the No. 2 freshman class in the country.

Last year was bad.

Despite heading into the season with the No. 2 ranked recruiting class — including high school phenom Cole Anthony, five-star center Armando Bacot, and four-star guard Anthony Harris and three-star guard Jeremiah Francis — and two of the most sought-after graduate-transfers (Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce), UNC Basketball fell flat.

North Carolina finished the year 14-19, handing Roy Williams his first losing season in his 32-year head coaching career, in what was one of the worst seasons in program history on the offensive end.

Whatever could go wrong, did go wrong, and disastrously so.

Sterling Manley missed the entire season, requiring two operations to repair cartilage in his left knee. Anthony Harris would return from a torn ACL that he suffered as a senior in high school, only to tear his other ACL after five games. Fellow freshman Jeremiah Francis would return in a similar fashion, recovering from a high school microfracture surgery, only to struggle with consistency and swelling in his knees.

And other bumps and bruises would hold several rotation players out for differing amounts of time, whether it was Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, Christian Keeling, Justin Pierce, Andrew Platek, or senior guard Brandon Robinson, who walked away from a head-on collision with a drunk driver with only minor neck soreness.

Naturally, uneven practice time and fluctuating rotations shattered whatever hopes there were of establishing chemistry between teammates, with the team never finding its footing.

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

But that’s in the past. With the 2021 season only days away, it’s time to look toward the near future, with this year’s No. 2 ranked six-man recruiting class coming into town and bringing heaps of excitement with it.

No. 16 UNC will see three five-stars (Caleb Love, Day’Ron Sharpe, Walker Kessler) and three four-stars (RJ Davis, Puff Johnson, Kerwin Walton) suit up in baby blue, with the young group figuring to play a huge role in the team’s success right out of the gate.

Anthony fled the college season for the NBA, where he was recently drafted fifteenth overall by the Orlando Magic. Both Jeremiah Francis (New Mexico) and Brandon Huffman (Jacksonville State) transferred elsewhere, in search of increased playing time. But last year’s ACC Most Improved Player of the Year, Garrison Brooks, is ready to be the team’s senior leader on the floor and in the locker room.

With UNC Basketball kicking off the season against College of Charleston on Wednesday, Nov. 25, it’s time to look at how the season could go for the Tar Heels.

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