Yesterday, we reintroduced you to the players who are returning for another campaign in Carolina Blue. While there are a lot coming back, the fact is the vast majority of them have played limited minutes so far in their careers in Carolina blue. The graduations of Luke Maye, Kenny Williams, Cameron Johnson and the early departures of Coby White and Nassir Little left an undeniable void. Seventh Woods deciding to transfer just made that void wider.
Before Cole Anthony committed to join next year’s edition of the Tar Heels, UNC only had two players coming in to fill those spots. But Anthony’s commitment opened up the floodgates to bring in three other players in the following couple of weeks. In total, next season will see Carolina bring in four freshmen and two graduate transfers. These new players will attempt to mesh with those coming back, and it’s likely to create a few bumps in the road at the start of the season... but that’s a topic for later.
Tomorrow, Brandon will begin the conversation that is likely to last for the next several months; who starts for this team? Today, so we can complete our first look at next year’s team, let’s take a look at who is coming into Chapel Hill, in order of their commitment.
2019 PG Jeremiah Francis (Pickerington OH) Top 20 Team @ The NEP Ohio Fall Showcase pic.twitter.com/q04gqPAnlz— National Exposure Preps (@NorthernXPreps) September 26, 2017
Francis has been ticketed for Carolina since 2017. Roy Williams offered Francis, who played at the same high school as Sterling Manley, before the guard played his junior season in Pickerington Central. He was on track to be one of the top guards of the class, ranked top 50 and tracking upwards, but then injury forced him not only to miss his junior season, but his senior season as well. Still, Williams kept the offer and Francis signed on. Some expect that Francis will redshirt to get a year of practice under his legs, but after two years without basketball, Francis may choose to battle it out just to play the game again as soon as possible. With only Leaky Black as a true back up for Cole Anthony, if he doesn’t red shirt, Francis may see some minutes but at the same time, it’ll be tough with the number of combo guards UNC has coming in. Francis is more of a pure on-ball guard than his peers, which could give him an avenue to PT if he plays next year, and puts him in position to be a great Tar Heel looking ahead.
Bacot did something rare for a UNC recruit in the age of social media: he created a hype video to announce who he had chosen. From the moment Bacot announced his commitment to UNC, he was as active in recruiting as any of the assistant coaches. He was vocal in his work in luring Cole Anthony to Chapel Hill, and wasn’t shy about letting fans of his new school know that there was a lot more in the works on the day Cole announced. Bacot is a five-star center who will allow Roy Williams to move Garrison Brooks to his natural position at the four, meaning the Tar Heels will get back to the inside-out play Roy so dreams of playing. Bacot lived up to his stars in his senior season, earning McDonalds All-American status and playing with future teammate Cole Anthony in the All-Star game. If his personality is anything like what he’s shown on social media, he should quickly be a favorite of Tar Heel fans, if he isn't already.
There was a long quiet period for UNC from when Bacot committed in August 2018, to when Anthony signed on April 23rd. Anthony was already going to be a priority for Roy Williams going into the year, and once it became clear that Coby White was a likely one and done player, the urgency increased. Anthony is the highest rated point guard to commit to Carolina in the Williams era, and all you had to do was watch his MVP efforts in the McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic games to understand why he was so highly rated. He will come to Chapel Hill as the presumed starting point guard, and the chemistry he’s already built with Bacot should come in handy.
The day before Cole Anthony announced, Anthony Harris (yes, there will likely be confusion in practice) completed his official visit to Chapel Hill. Harris had suddenly become available thanks to Buzz Williams leaving Virginia Tech for Texas A&M, and the staff worked hard to secure the talents of the four-star combo guard. The visit clearly made an impression, and Cole’s decision seemed to seal the deal. Later in the day, Harris announced he would join the class. Like Francis, Harris is coming off a season-ending injury that will see him work to get his legs under him in practice. The injury likely kept him from rising in the rankings further, and with Cole the likely starter, Anthony’s minutes will likely come at the two this season, but, as you’re about to see, he’ll have competition:
With all of UNC’s high school targets signed, Williams’ attention turned to the available graduate transfers. Keeling played three years at Charleston Southern at the two guard, and that spot became open for him with the departure of Kenny Williams. The same week that saw both Cole Anthony and Anthony Harris commit ended with Keeling choosing to suit up in the blue as well. Keeling was originally going to wait till Mothers’ Day in tribute to the mother he lost, but he then decided to go ahead and make it official. Jake broke him down in the above-linked article, and Harris is clearly hoping Carolina can do for him what it did for Cam Johnson. He’ll have his chance.
The final addition to the roster announced his move on Thursday. With another spot to fill, Roy Williams decided to bring in the versatile wing from William and Mary. While he plays the two guard as well, he played all over the court for the Tribe. While the other guards coming in for Carolina consider themselves Combo guards, Pierce is clearly a three and that plus his versatility should earn him minutes as well. He likely wasn’t promised a starting spot to commit to the Tar Heels, but with so much of the scoring from 2019 gone, he’ll have an opportunity to get a ton of minutes.
While there are still some available recruits out there, Bacot has made it clear that the Heels are done with signings. With six new players to integrate in the offense, it’s probably for the best.
Thus, you have your 2019-20 Tar Heels. Now, who’s going to start? Let the discussion begin.