Heading into the 2015 NCAA Tournament, UNC will be leaning heavily on at least two freshman. Justin Jackson is a starter and one of four Tar Heels average in double figures. Joel Berry has been a critical component off the bench over the past few games. Theo Pinson, if healthy could contribute but probably more on the defensive end. Here is how the freshman in the Roy Williams Era have performed in their first NCAA Tournament(sorted by PPG)
|James Michael McAdoo||4||19.3||11.8||0.5||4.0||2.3||1.0||56.3%||0.0%||84.6%|
One notable aspect of this chart is how a player might be better or worse than your memory of those games. Harrison Barnes, for example, was actually really good in the 2011 NCAA Tournament with the exception being his shooting percentage wasn't great. Barnes averaged 21.0 ppg and pulled down 8. He also played more than any UNC freshman under Williams in the NCAA Tournament, just ahead of Marcus Paige's 33.5 mpg.
Kendall Marshall put up 9.8 assists per game during his freshman NCAA Tournament. Ty Lawson averaged 6.3 in the NCAA Tournament as a freshman to go along with 10.3 ppg. Kennedy Meeks had a similar two games to Tyler Hansbrough as a freshman with both grabbing nine boards per game but Hansbrough hit a higher scoring average.
These stats are also a reminder of how much impact the NCAA Tournament can have on a player's draft prospects or expectations going into the next season. James Michael McAdoo had an outstanding four games in 2012. He averaged 11.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.3 spg in just 19.3 minutes per contest. The shooting numbers were really good. McAdoo hit 56.3% of his shots and 84.6% at the free throw line. That is not a typo. It is no wonder McAdoo was being tossed around as a top ten pick and created the expectation he would be an All-American caliber player as a sophomore. As it turns out playing with Tyler Zeller, Reggie Bullock, Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall and John Henson really helps probably because you don't draw much defensive attention.
These stats have little bearing on the current freshman and these numbers are also suffering from small sample size syndrome. Two of the three best scoring averages were on teams that were done by the second round. Of the freshman who went to the Final Four, only Ed Davis and Marvin Williams posted significant numbers.
The real freshman number UNC needs to worry about this season is 16-3 and 8-8. UNC is 16-3 when Justin Jackson scores in double figures, 8-8 when he does not. Jackson failed to reach double figures for the first time in eight games against Notre Dame. For UNC to make any kind of deep run, Jackson and also Berry will need to produce.