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UNC basketball: Looking at where Rechon Black fits in

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Is the freshman a legitimate contender in the point guard battle?

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Charlotte Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Luke Maye’s announcement to return to Chapel Hill for his senior season means the North Carolina Tar Heels now know exactly what its roster will look like next year. With that in mind, it’s time to start looking at each individual player that makes up said roster.

We’ll start with Rechon “Leaky” Black. Black, an incoming freshman, has been a bit overshadowed by fellow freshmen Nassir Little and Coby White, both of whom were McDonald’s All-Americans and consensus five star recruits. Still, Black brings a unique skill set to the table and there’s a lot to be excited about with him.

Black is from Concord, North Carolina. As a senior at Cox Mill High School, he averaged 13.4 points, 3.2 assists, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.2 steals. His ability to fill the stat sheet is reminiscent of Theo Pinson and could be instrumental in replacing the lost production from Pinson.

At six-foot-seven, 180 pounds, Black is listed by most recruiting outlets as a small forward. However, in high school he played point guard, and the general feeling is that he’ll continue playing the point in college. Assuming this is the case, there’s a good chance he could carve out some minutes in his rookie season given the question marks Carolina has at that position.

One of the biggest staples of Roy Williams’ elite teams at UNC has been exceptional point guard play. 2017 Final Four MOP Joel Berry led the Heels over the last three seasons. Before him, Tar Heel greats such as Marcus Paige, Kendall Marshall, Ty Lawson, and Raymond Felton anchored the backcourt. This year’s team will have the chance to be considered elite, but finding some consistency at the point guard position is absolutely paramount.

Right now, the expectation is that Seventh Woods will assume lead guard duties, but there is still plenty of time between now and November. Because of injuries and a crowded backcourt, Woods didn’t see too many minutes during his first two seasons (7.7 mpg as a freshman, 7.0 mpg as a sophomore). His lack of game experience leaves the door open for Black, along with White and K.J. Smith, to potentially take over as point guard during each player’s first season with the Tar Heels.

Black has a clear advantage in size over the other candidates, or any college point guards for that matter. Not only that, but he has above-average court vision and ball handling skills. His combination of size and passing ability make him an excellent fit in Williams’ system, namely in situations after a defensive rebound when the Tar Heels are looking to push the ball upcourt. His length and athleticism allow him to guard four positions, assuming he fully buys in on that side of the ball. His jump shot is solid but probably not where it could be, although he’ll have plenty of time to work on that before the season begins.

Black is largely fighting an uphill battle in terms of actually winning the starting point guard job, as Woods and White are presumed to be the frontrunners. Still, with all of the uncertainty, it wouldn’t exactly be shocking to see him emerge at some point over the next few months.

Overall, Black is an extremely versatile player with a wide range of skills. Aside from potentially needing to put on a few pounds, the physical tools are all there for him. His success will mostly be determined by how well and how quickly he’s able to adjust to the college game.