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Heels Add Gardner-Webb Transfer

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Blue Steel starting to look like a low major squad.

Gardner-Webb point guard Luke Davis, a Raleigh, NC native, will be transferring to UNC and join the basketball team as a walk-on. He will be eligible in 2012-13 after sitting out for sone season.  In his freshman season at Gardner-Webb, Davis averaged 7.2 ppg and 4.2 while starting 30 games for G-W. The genesis of the idea to transfer came from his father who suggested maybe he should try to walk-on at UNC.

Despite his success on the court, Davis said the school wasn’t a great fit off it and started considering a transfer late in the school year.

Growing up a UNC fan, Davis kept up with the Tar Heels but didn’t consider transferring to Chapel Hill until he received a text from his father before Carolina’s Elite Eight game against Kentucky.

“It just said, ‘Walk-on at UNC?’” Davis remembered. “I called him immediately and he said ‘I don’t know why you shouldn’t try to follow your dream of playing there.’”

By mid-April, Davis had his release from Gardner-Webb and was talking to his former high school coach Kevin Billerman about his aspirations to be a Tar Heel. Billerman, who knew UNC assistant coach Jerod Haase from Ryan Kelly’s recruitment, called Haase and gauged his interest.

When UNC said they were open to the idea, Davis ended his search and started filling out the paperwork. Davis said he never considered any other school but UNC and only sent his transfer release to Chapel Hill.

“Me and my best friend in kindergarten would dress up in UNC basketball uniforms and cut down the Fisher Price nets,” Davis said. “There was no question in my mind that’s where I wanted to go.

What is interesting about this from the UNC perspective is Roy Williams' apparently willingness to bring in walk-ons and even low end scholarship players. Granted Roy has been bringing in preferred walk-on players since his Kansas days. However with the addition of Desmond Hubert, Stillman White and Jackson Simmons on scholarship plus Davis, UNC is deep with some decent players. Obviously none of these are elite level though I think there are high hopes players like Hubert develop significantly. If I had to speculate I would say there are two things going on here.

First, Roy wants more competitive practices. The whole idea of adding Simmons and Hubert was to give Tyler Zeller and John Henson legitimate size to battle in practice. Roy is a big believer in what practice can tell you. Much to chagrin of the fan base, he often sticks to unpopular lineup choices on the basis of what he see in practice. Beefing up Blue Steel to make practice more competitive should help the team in general and that is what Roy has in mind.

The second item is possibly a little out there but I have to wonder, to what extent, the transfers of the Wears and Some Other Kid might be influencing some of this. Those three departures left Roy short in depth and he really hates being thin on personnel. The logic goes that even if it means picking up 3-4 low end players who will buy into the program even if the skill level is not there is better than having players whose hearts are never really in Chapel Hill. As long as Roy continues to stock the first 8-10 scholarship slots with elite players, you can afford bringing in some projects for the remaining spots.

That is probably over-analyzing it a bit. The simpler logic says if you have a guard who is low major DI player that is perfectly willing to walk-on to your team that is a high caliber player than most of your traditional Blue Steel guys. Someone who has experience playing in college basketball is a bonus. By giving Davis a shot UNC gets a quality bench player, a solid practice body and allows someone to fulfill that dream we've all played out on our driveway basketball goal at some time or another.