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UNC Women’s Basketball: ACC Tipoff

Led by senior Paris Kea, can the Tar Heels turn the corner this season?

North Carolina Tar Heels v Maryland Terrapins Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Last season was a milestone year for Sylvia Hatchell. The head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels women’s basketball team secured her 1,000 career win last season. However, Hatchell did not have the season they hoped for in 2017-18. The Tar Heels finished 15-16 overall and just 4-12 in conference play.

At the ACC Tipoff, Hatchell and senior guard Paris Kea spoke about optimism for the upcoming season and the toughness of the ACC.

A few takeaways from the ACC Tipoff:

  • Kea will be the centerpiece of the Tar Heel offense. The Greensboro native is the career UNC scoring average leader. She is averaging 18.3 points per game coming into the season. Another 1,000 milestone was met last season: Kea is just the fourth player in program history to score 1,000 points in two season.
  • One reason Hatchell is hopeful for the season is more depth. The team adds three freshmen and returns Stephanie Watts and Destinee Walker, both of whom missed the entire season last year with knee injuries. The key pickup in the offseason was Shayla Bennett. The 5’9” guard played the past two seasons at Gulf Coast State College. Last year, Bennett was named the 2018 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Two-Year College Player of the Year. She averaged 20.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game.
  • This increased depth will allow Hatchell to play more uptempo on offense and allow Kea to get some rest. Kea play 37.4 minutes per game last season and admitted that Hatchell told her that she took plays off on defense.
  • Janelle Bailey, the defending ACC Rookie of the Year, returns as the starting center. She led all ACC freshman in scoring, rebounding, and double-doubles last season. Bailey was the 10th Carolina player to win ACC Rookie of the Year, more than any team in conference history.
  • This is will be another milestone year for Hatchell. She is just seven wins shy of setting the record for most wins at an ACC school.

Check back with Tar Heel Blog for more previews before the season opener on November 6.