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UNC Basketball: Grading the juniors in 2020-21

Let’s look back at this season’s juniors.

ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament - North Carolina v Florida State Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Next up on our review of the now concluded UNC basketball season is a look at the juniors from this year’s team.

The junior class for the 2020-21 North Carolina consists of just two players, whose careers in Chapel Hill have taken vastly different paths. On one hand, you have a guy who’s averaged nearly 30 minutes a game for the second straight season, having started all but two games in that time. On the other side, there’s a guy who we haven’t seen all that much of court for three years now, for fairly sad reasons.

With the season in the books, let’s look back at the 2020-21 seasons from Leaky Black and Sterling Manley.

Leaky Black

ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament - North Carolina v Florida State Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Season Stats: 29 games, 27.6 MPG, 5.6 PPG, .367 FG%, .222 3PT%, 5.4 FGA, 1.6 3PA, 4.9 REB, 2.4 AST, 1.2 STL, 0.3 BLK, 1.3 TO,

Leaky Black’s 2020-21 season was a...weird one. His highs were also two of the bigger highs of the season. In January, he hit a game-winner as UNC knocked picked up an important win over Notre Dame.

Three days after that, he scored a season high 16 points, hit four threes, grabbed nine rebounds, and was again involved in the game-winning bucket. This time, he found Andrew Platek for a layup that ended up being the decider.

However after those two games, things went downhill. Over the last 18 games of the season, Black averaged 4.3 points on 33.3% shooting, and just 11.5% from three. If you want to give him plaudits for his defense, that’s fine, but the offensive numbers are genuinely disapointing. He is capable of good things on the court, but we’ve just haven’t seen him do it consistently, the way you would like for a former top 100 recruit in his junior season.

Final Grade: C-

Sterling Manley

Elon v North Carolina Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images

Season Stats: 3 games, 1.3 MPG, 0.7 PPG, .500 FG%, 0.7 FGA 0.3 REB, 0.0 AST, 1.0 BLK, 0.0 STL, 0.0 TO

Just a few days ago, Manley announced his intentions to transfer upon his graduation this year. That brings to an end one of the sadder Tar Heel careers, although it wasn’t sad because of Manley himself or anything he did on the court.

After showing flashes of impressive potential in his freshman season (averaged 21.7 points and 14.4 rebounds per 40 minutes in 2017-18), he’s spent large chunks of the last three seasons off the court. In 2018-19, he went down with an injury in January and didn’t return until March, and when he did, he played nine total minutes in six games.

Last season ended up being a redshirt year for Manley, as he still dealt with knee injuries and ended up undergoing surgery in December 2019. He did not return to practice until December 2020. He didn’t see any time on the court the regular season finale against Duke, where he excited his teammates with a dunk and block.

That sequence was really the extent of his 2020-21, as he only appeared in two other games. More than anything, it was good to see him back on the court. It really sucks for everyone how his UNC career went. Hopefully he can end his college career on a good note and kills it where ever he ends up transferring to.

Final Grade: Incomplete