The 2014-15 season is almost here and in preparation for that we profile the players. Today we look at the reserves.
Desmond Hubert, C, 6-10, 225 lbs
At this point I am not sure there has been a player whose ratio of minutes played to fan angst is pretty heavily skewed. Hubert's three years at UNC have been non-descript at best. Recruited out of high school as a project, his game really hasn't developed much. While he possess some athleticism, can hold his own defensively and block the occasional shot or two his offensive skills continue to be raw. Unless he is under the basket with an open dunk available, it isn't likely he can score. The offensive moves simply aren't there though he did turn and make a hook shot in the exhibition game against Fayetteville State. That game also included him putting the ball on the floor at the free throw line and attempting to drive which ended in predictable fashion.
Given UNC has just three solid big men in Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson and Isaiah Hicks, there is a good chance Hubert is going to see some minutes, something on the order of 5-8 minutes. His defense and ability to run the floor make him a decent option in short spurts but at the same time, unless his offense has undergone an magical transformation, the word "liability" will attached itself to Hubert more times than not.
Joel James, C, 6-10, 280 lbs
Much like Hubert, Joel James was recruited as a project but with much higher hopes that he could blossom into a legitimate interior scoring threat. Through two seasons that has yet to materialize despite being given the opportunity as a starter through the early part of last season. Roy Williams' take on James last year was to point back to his limited experience playing basketball. James picked up the sport as a sophomore in high school so the expectation was there would be some type of learning curve.
After two years at UNC, it is clear that reasoning can no longer apply. If James hasn't made the transition from awkward big man still learning the game to at least a serviceable option it leads to uncertainty that he will ever be able to do it. James has the size and strength to anchor the offensive and defensive ends of the floor however his overall skill set simply hasn't developed. James will see some floor time as Williams isn't keen on running his key players ragged if other options are available. James is one of those options and will see some playing time early in the season while UNC looks to keep players fresh.
Jackson Simmons, PF, 6-7, 225 lbs
Over his first three seasons there has been plenty to like about Jackson Simmons. Here is a player who works hard, has a tremendous understanding of the game and squeezes every last ounce out of the basketball talent he's been given. Simmons is often pressed into dealing with opposing players who are much more talented and athletic. It doesn't always bring about the best results but it isn't for a lack of effort.
The problem facing Simmons this season is UNC's interior play should round into form enough so that he doesn't need to see the floor much. Simmons has very much been Roy Williams means of telling another player they are coming up short. If an interior player didn't hustle or missed an assignment or failed to box out, Simmons would come off the bench because regardless of whatever talent gap Simmons is facing, the execution is always very good.
The logic goes like this. If UNC's regular rotation big men get the job done on both ends of the floor, Simmons is less likely to see the floor. Williams has better options to roll out there and if those options perform according to their respective capabilities, Simmons' role will be reduced.
Stilman White, PG, 6-0, 170 lbs
So what became of the third string PG that almost got UNC through the regional in 2012? Stilman White went on a two year Mormon mission but since then has returned to the team. The last sighting of White in a game that counted was six assists in the season ending loss to Kansas in 2012. White played admirably filling inf or Kendall Marshall but it wasn't enough. Since then White played very little basketball and finds himself behind the learning curve again.
For the most part, White is catching up. He understands the offense and in that respect can likely run it providing there are scoring options on the floor. However White is in the same boat as Simmons regarding playing time. It is going to take some deficient play on the part of Nate Britt and Joel Berry for the sophomore to see the floor. There simply isn't a need save a couple of minutes in the first half for White to play. If UNC has the type of success everyone is hoping, White will play plenty in games the Tar Heels have in hand. Outside of that, his playing time will be limited.