On Thursday morning, UNC’s roster for 2021-2022 received another addition. Power forward Dawson Garcia announced he will play next season for Hubert Davis’ inaugural Tar Heel squad. After withdrawing from the NBA Draft earlier in the week, the transfer from Marquette decided he needed a change of scenery and level of competition. He’ll get both in Chapel Hill.
The 6-11, 230-pound rising sophomore adds both depth and talent to UNC’s thin frontcourt. Garcia averaged 13 points, 6.6 rebounds, and shot 35.7% from three last year for Marquette, which was enough for him to be named to the Big East All-Freshman team. That success and versatility seems to be the perfect fit for the updated offense UNC will look to implement under Davis.
As most UNC fans would care to forget, one of Garcia’s best games last season took place in the Dean Dome when Marquette defeated the Heels 83-70. When the Golden Eagles visited on a hastily arranged COVID-inspired mid-week contest, he torched UNC for 24 points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes of action. Equally impressive (or infuriating), was that he did it on an efficient 9-13 shooting from the floor and 8-9 from the foul line.
It’s rare to get a recruiting win for the upcoming season this deep into the summer. Rosters are set, off-season workouts are the norm, and most players are in summer school. Recruiting attention is focused on the following year’s targets during numerous summer AAU events. Just yesterday, UNC even had their first official practice with the new staff.
However, the rise of the transfer portal over the past few seasons has changed those traditional sequence of events. The free COVID year increased the number of available players. In Garcia’s case, his decision making process was also influenced by the firing of his head coach Steve Wojchiechowski and garnering feedback from NBA teams.
This is the third transfer that Hubert has added since being named head coach in April. Brady Manek, a PF/C from Oklahoma, and Justin McKoy, a SF/PF from Virginia, joined the program in Davis’ first week on the job. You can check out those quick reports here and here.
It is also the sixth transfer that UNC has added since 2017. That summer, former head coach Roy Williams added (potential 2021 NBA Champion) Cam Johnson for a two-year stint on the wing from 2017-2019. Graduate transfers Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce followed for the 2019-2020 season.
Garcia’s decision now turns UNC’s anticipated starting frontcourt of Armando Bacot and Brady Manek into a three-headed monster of verified production. Bacot brings his 12.8 points and 7.8 rebounds, while Manek adds 10.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and 37.5% success from behind the arc. All three played over 20 minutes a game last year, though Bacot’s 22.7 mpg was actually the lowest average of the three. That’s a good kind of problem to have.
Playing time will get sorted in practice and early season competition, but Garcia is coming to UNC with a full awareness of the personnel and playing opportunities. It likely helps that North Carolina received heavy interest when Garcia was in high school, but Walker Kessler’s surprise commitment altered those potential plans. There are clearly no hard feelings and both sides now get a second chance with each other.
Originally from Prior Lake, Minnesota, Garcia picked the Heels over Arizona, Illinois, and Marquette.