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UNC Tar Heels Basketball: Senior class preview

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Two years of Final Four experience, a national championship, and a preseason All-American. What more can you ask for?

NCAA Basketball: Tulane at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

We are a little over 24 hours away from Carolina basketball’s exhibition game against Mt. Olive. Throughout the week, we have previewed each player in each class, and we have now reached the end of our journey. Ladies and gentlemen, here are is your senior class of the 2018 North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Kentucky vs North Carolina Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

# 32 Luke Maye | 6’8” | Power Forward

What else can be said about Luke Maye, other than what an incredible journey he has had throughout his college career. He was one-half of one of the lowest-ranked recruiting classes that Roy Williams procured during the academic scandal that plagued the program, and was actually brought on as a walk-on. From there, we really don’t need to list off his credentials, but just in case you are new here: his career skyrocketed after hitting the clutch shot against Kentucky in the 2017 Elite Eight game, made it to two Final Fours, won a national championship, and is now the preseason ACC Player of the Year and a preseason All-American.

Last season, Maye had been challenged with finding a way to give Roy Williams the paint-presence that he needed to get his team where they wanted to go for a third time in a row. In the grand scheme of things, Maye was able to deliver — he finished the season averaging 16.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game, making 48.6% of his field goal attempts, and 43.1% of his attempts from three. The last number is particularly impressive, especially considering that he shot the ball 116 times from behind the arc.

What Roy Williams will be looking for this year out of arguably his best player, however, is consistency. Williams slid Luke Maye into the five spot routinely last year after it was clear that Garrison Brooks wasn’t ready for the starting job quite yet, and what happened was that against some of the bigger, more athletic players Maye struggled on the defensive side of the ball. There were also a few games where Maye just didn’t get enough shooting attempts to make as big of an impact on the game as he was capable of. The games against Syracuse, Clemson, and Ohio State come to mind. Maye is undoubtedly an unselfish player, but this year’s team is going to need as much as they can get from him when the opportunities present themselves.

Nevertheless, we can all expect Luke Maye to be his usual awesome self, and he will be a huge factor for the Heels if they want any chance to get deep into the NCAA tournament. Brace your eardrums, you will hear Luke’s name bellowing throughout the Dean Dome this year.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-North Carolina vs Texas A&M Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

#13 Cameron Johnson | 6’9” | Shooting Guard

Cameron Johnson will be suiting up in Carolina blue for his second and final year of his college eligibility, and he is ready to show UNC fans what he truly brings to the table following his 2018 campaign.

Dating back to his high school career, Johnson has battled issues with his hip, which has limited his ability to move freely without pain on the court. This offseason he underwent hip surgery, and says that he feels so good that he doesn’t know what he will actually be capable of during the season (in a good way):

”I take good as relative, and for me right now I definitely say I feel very good,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how good 100 percent is because I feel like I’m finding a new 100 percent.”

What we do know about Cam’s game is that he was able to shoot the lights out during his time at Pitt, as he finished his junior year shooting at a 41.5% clip off of 188 attempts. Last year wasn’t as good, but he managed to improve his scoring and rebounding averages at UNC, finishing his senior year averaging 12.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

This year we can expect Johnson to once again bounce back and forth between the two and three spot, and more than likely he will be a starter when the Heels tip off tomorrow. It will be exciting to see what a healthy Cam Johnson looks like, and hopefully he will have one of the better seasons of his career.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Duke vs North Carolina Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Williams | 6’4” | Shooting Guard

Every year, various sources make predictions about who the best freshman will be, who will be the player of the year, an All-American, etc. One prediction that isn’t made very often in the preseason is who the most underrated player is going into the season. Well, one name that should be on that list is UNC’s own Kenny Williams.

Last year, Williams was a key factor in more than a few wins. When the Heels squared off against Duke in the Dean Dome, he went 6-12 from three, tying his highest point total of the season. He has been arguably UNC’s best perimeter defender, and took his game to another level last year when he started finding his groove attacking the basket.

Much like his classmate Luke Maye, the one knock against Kenny Williams last year was consistency. There were a few games where Williams would shoot lights out for one half, and would disappear the next. If he manages to play at a high level for 40 minutes per game on a regular basis, then there is no telling what the ceiling is for this team.

Well there you have it, folks. We hope that you enjoyed our preview of your North Carolina Tar Heels. It’s time to get excited, because tip-off is right around the corner.