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UNC Basketball: Players and recruits return to campus as COVID restrictions lift

Nothing says Happy Belated Birthday to Hubert Davis like being able to enjoy a normal summer with the Tar Heels.

NCAA Men’s Final Four - Practice Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Normalcy is something that has not only evaded Carolina basketball since last March, but it also has evaded all of us. Fans were forced to go months without any sports to watch (unless you like NBA 2K tournaments), when sports did return fans weren’t allowed to attend games, we were all forced to socially distance and wear masks, and for many of us the easiest option was to just..stay home. Truly it has been a brutal, frustrating, and flat-out boring 12+ months, but things are finally starting to look up as restrictions are being lifted across the US. What does that mean for the Tar Heels? Thankfully it means that Hubert Davis will get to enjoy a normal offseason to start his head coaching career.

One of the biggest traditions of Carolina basketball involves former players returning home to work out with the team. Last year COVID took that away from players, and really the players didn’t even get to do anything with each other. Now that vaccinations have rolled out and the fog has been lifted, former players have already started showing up in Chapel Hill. Yesterday the Carolina basketball Twitter account tweeted pictures of Chicago Bulls point guard Coby White working out with his former team:

It’s crazy to think that something as normal as a former player showing up to campus would be worth discussing, but even aside from the display of COVID restrictions lifting, this goes to show that Bubba Cunningham made the right move for the program by giving Hubert Davis a shot. A number of former players developed very strong relationships with Davis during their time in Chapel Hill, which is something that is something that can’t be replicated with someone like Wes Miller. Sure, players know and have relationships with Miller as well, but things run a bit deeper with Davis. He was one of the ones interacting with the players as high school recruits the most, discussed life problems with them, prayed with them, and overall left everlasting impressions on each Tar Heel that came through the program during his time as an assistant coach. It will be exciting to see who else shows up over the summer, as I am sure more players will show up on campus as teams are eliminated from the NBA Playoffs.

Another part of college basketball that is returning to normal this spring/summer is the ability for coaches to be able to host high school recruits on campus, as well as attend AAU games to see prospects play in person. As far as official visits go, Hubert Davis has a number of players that will be visiting campus in the month of June. Will Shaver, Jalen Washington, Justin Taylor, Dereck Lively, De’Ante Green, Jaden Bradley, Seth Trimble, and Isaac Traudt will all make an official visit to Chapel Hill starting June 1st, with the last visit taking place June 27th. It’s quite a hefty visit schedule, but this is because June 1st is when the flood gates are being opened for visits/coach-to-player interactions to resume. Not being able to properly host players and show them the true Carolina experience really hurt the 2021 class, but thankfully Hubert Davis is being blessed with the opportunity to go all out with his recruiting strategy.

Seeing players and recruits alike return to campus is one of the most exciting things that Tar Heel fans could ever ask for when it comes to the pandemic losing steam. More importantly, it is easily the best thing that Hubert Davis could’ve asked for to start his head coaching career. Unfortunately the one thing that cannot return to normal is Roy Williams returning to his court to coach the team, but it’s awesome to see Davis getting a fair chance to show us what he’s got. Unfortunately we will have to wait just a little bit longer for the most exciting part of things returning to normal: fans returning to the Dean Smith Center to cheer on the best program in college basketball.