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UNC Basketball: Anthony Harris appears to be making progress in his recovery

The redshirt freshman guard figures to be a key cog for the Tar Heels next season.

NCAA Basketball: Yale at North Carolina Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Harris had a rough introduction to college basketball. A left ACL tear suffered in high school caused him to miss the first month of the season. He made his debut on December 8th at Virginia, and it wasn’t long before he began providing a spark for a team in desperate need of one. Just as it seemed Harris might be the answer to many of the Tar Heels’ problems, he went down again on December 30th against Yale. Early speculation was that it could be something serious and sure enough, Harris had another torn ACL, this time the right knee.

Understandably, the injury was both devastating and frustrating for Harris as he had been working like crazy to get back on the court. He even received unprecedented amounts of praise from Roy Williams, who compared his work ethic to that of Tyler Hansbrough.

Inside Carolina recently spoke with Harris’ father, Anthony Harris Sr., who seems pretty optimistic about his son’s recovery. He explains how Harris knows more of what to expect this time around. He also notes his son’s determination and willingness to put in the work as encouraging signs. Apparently, Harris has set a goal to try and get back to basketball activities by the time practice begins in September, but obviously he must be medically cleared first.

This update comes on the heels of some somewhat surprising news that Jeremiah Francis will be transferring schools. Similar to Harris, Francis has dealt with injuries since the second he arrived in Chapel Hill. Though he showed some nice promise in the minutes he saw this past season, his decision is understandable given the backcourt depth Carolina will have next season and beyond.

With that being said, it does put a little more pressure on guys like Harris. Despite the fact that he’s only played in five games as a Tar Heel, he’ll still be one of the more experienced wing options this upcoming year. He’s someone who can guide talented newcomers such as Caleb Love and R.J. Davis and help them adjust to the college game.

In the little time that he was available this past season, Harris made his presence felt. He is a high energy player with great lateral quickness and instincts on defense. Though not necessarily known as much for his offensive abilities, he was able to provide some scoring production for a team that struggled mightily to put the ball in the hoop. The news of Harris’ injury was overshadowed a little by the anticipation of Cole Anthony’s return, but in retrospect, I think his loss was much more significant than people realized.

Looking forward, it’s difficult to predict what exactly Harris’ role will be, at least not until we have a clearer idea of when he’ll return. I do know that when he is available, Coach Williams will find plenty of ways to utilize him.