To say the 2019-2020 Tar Heels had a problem staying healthy is an understatement. Four scholarship players, Brandon Robinson, Sterling Manley, Anthony Harris, and Jeremiah Francis, sat out the very first game of the year. That seemingly set the tone for the rest of the season as every single rotation player ultimately missed time due to injury and Roy Williams oftentimes struggled to even find enough bodies to roll out there.
If there is a positive to draw from all of this, it comes with the news that the aforementioned Manley and Harris will each receive medical redshirts. Thus, they will have two and four years of eligibility remaining, respectively.
Manley has had difficulties staying healthy ever since he arrived in Chapel Hill in 2017. He had a promising freshman campaign but missed 16 games as a sophomore and frequently dealt with knee soreness. After having to sit out the first month of this past season, any hopes of returning to the court were thwarted when he had surgery in December to repair cartilage in his left knee.
The redshirt is critical for both Manley and Carolina. Having been away from basketball so much over the past couple of years, it’s hard to imagine that one season would be enough for Manley to get back in the swing of things. He’ll likely be given plenty of time to get himself right considering how loaded the Heels’ frontcourt will be this upcoming season. However, Brooks is set to graduate and rising sophomore Armando Bacot will draw plenty of attention from NBA scouts. Incoming freshmen Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler are also candidates to leave early. Thus, having Manley available for the 2021-2022 season could be extremely important.
As for Anthony Harris, he had spent a full year recovering from a tear in his left ACL before making his debut with the Heels on December 8th against Virginia. Not even a month later, he tore his other ACL against Wofford. As I touched on the other day, Harris’ recovery appears to be going well and he seems optimistic about the timetable for his return.
Harris played as well as anybody on the team in the few games he was available. He played with a great deal of energy and intensity despite coming off a major injury so hopefully he’ll bring a similar fire this time around. When assessing the impact of Harris receiving a redshirt, it’s a little harder to quantify because he’s still so young. It’s not inconceivable that he could work himself into the NBA discussion before he even reaches that extra year of eligibility. Regardless, Harris is an incredibly hard-working player with lots of promise, so I doubt Tar Heel Nation is too upset with the fact that he’ll be classified as a freshman this coming season.