Remember last week when I told you that you needed to just breathe and let the chips fall as the Tar Heels went into the offseason? You know, because there were a myriad of factors coming into play all at once and it would take time for them all to shake out?
Well it’s been a veritable monsoon.
So, if you took my advice and decided to just unplug while things settled down, you missed a lot. You could be like a couple of our writers who had real life things happen to them to the point where they couldn’t spend all their time on various message boards following all of the sorted laundry of what parent said this or that, who decided they were going to leave, and so on and so forth. Thus, if you want a Cliff’s Notes version of where we stand, look no further.
Previously on: As the Old Well Pours
Friday, March 19
The Tar Heels play an uninspired game against Wisconsin and lose in the first round for the first time in Roy Williams’ coaching career. The poor play plus the sad tone of Roy Williams after the game turns some heads, and it’s not too long before actual Tar Heel Insiders (not the basketcase234234212312 on message boards) report that this will be an offseason like no other, possibly with multiple transfers. All of the factors outlined in that post last week add to the concerns, and fans inhale waiting for news.
Monday, March 22
Walker Kessler announced his plans to transfer from UNC, setting off the firestorm of worry further, as many felt that players would at least wait until the one-time transfer rule was made official before announcing their intentions. The fact that Kessler, someone who was a top 20 recruit and seemingly a prototypical Roy player, feels it’s in his best interests to move on seem to confirm the fears fans have and they brace for more bad news.
Tuesday, March 23
Danny Green and UNC Basketball announce that the alumnus has donated a million dollars to help fund a scholarship. The coordination of the gift shows that it was in the works for a while and it’s yet another great example of the family of Carolina Basketball. The timing also works to give the basketball some really good PR, and help show that someone who has a difficult first year such as Green can still ultimately thrive and turn into someone who becomes an NBA champion.
Wednesday, March 24
Day’Ron Sharpe becomes the next Tar Heel to leave, as he announces his intention to leave school and go into the NBA Draft. While mostly glowing, Williams raises a few eyebrows with the line “I think over the next few years if he gets even a little more disciplined, a little more focused, we are going to see an unbelievable player at the professional level, just like I think he had a chance to be an unbelievable player here for us.” People trying to read for clues sense frustration from Williams and trying determine he disagrees with Sharpe leaving, even though it was pretty well understood that he was going to be a one-and-done style player.
Now you know why I suggested unplugging...
While nothing officially is released, over this time player/son/family meetings have also been happening. Players and coaches, fully removed from the stresses of the season and out of their hotel room, can have an honest discussion about where everyone stands.
As we later find out, some other decisions have been made, too...
Friday, March 26
First, another Tar Heel announced his intention to leave. This time, it was Sterling Manley. While injuries certainly made his time at Carolina one he didn’t expect, it also gave him another year on top of the free year that the NCAA is giving everyone this season. Manley is expected to graduate, so he’ll get to move on as a grad transfer and doesn’t have to wait for the new rule, and a fresh start with two years should see him get some run at another school.
Before people could fully absorb that news, though, the wheel turned when Caleb Love “announced” on Twitter that he would be returning to Carolina for his sophomore year. I put that in quotes because he never actually said “I’m coming back,” but the video had the UNC logos in it, and it was easy to infer that what he meant was that he was coming back. The return of the guard was a huge development.
Saturday, March 27
The day was newsworthy not for any further departure announcements, rather that word was coming out about the fact that all of the noise around the basketball office had calmed down. On WCHL, Inside Carolina’s Sherrell McMillan reported that after meetings and a lot of uncertainty, there was reason for optimism with Love’s announcement that the losses for Carolina would be a lot less than previously thought. We also wouldn’t necessarily hear an announcement from every player on the team, as most of them were expected back anyway so it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to announce they were just coming back for another season.
The moves also give Roy Williams and the staff a good idea of both what their team will now be going into 2021.
Sunday, March 28
As we find out later, this is when Roy Williams sits down with Kevin Guskiewicz to let him know some news that only he at this point had thought of. He’s going to retire. Reminiscent of Michael Hooker and Dean Smith in 1997, the chancellor asks Roy to sit on it for 24 hours before making the decision final.
Monday, March 29
The NBA announces its draft will be held on July 29th, giving players that want to explore their options longer to figure out if they will go pro or stay. The window is usually over around the middle of June, so this is a full six weeks later than what coaches normally have to plan for. This is on top of the transfer portal filling well beyond its 2020 numbers.
Tuesday, March 30
As we later find out, Roy Williams plays a “couple of rounds” down in Augusta, and while subtly bragging about how he shot at the course for the Masters, he’s spending the time in between shots trying to figure out how to break the news instead of soaking in the fact he’s playing golf at Augusta National. While various players of interest to UNC announce they are going to enter the portal and other coaching changes have caused some decommitments, the end is near.
Thursday, April 1
It was no April Fools’ joke, at 10 AM the players gathered for an emergency Zoom meeting –as one does in 2021 – and Roy Williams announces that he is retiring from UNC. The coach hold a press conference later in the day where he cites his own failures the last two seasons and feels like “he's no longer the best man for the job.”
Just when fans thought things were settling down and we were looking to add, now they have to adjust to something they haven’t in decades: a coaching search. Players who had committed to staying may change their mind, and players who wanted to leave may hold off depending on who the hire will be. This includes players who have an extra year of eligibility like Andrew Platek and Garrison Brooks.
Again, keep breathing folks. It’s going to be a while before this ride stops.