After a lot of speculation, it is now official: Senior wing Leaky Black is officially returning to Chapel Hill to take advantage of his extra year of eligibility. This announcement is off of the heels of UNC’s Final Four run before losing to Kansas in the national championship game on April 4th. Black’s announcement has to be music to Hubert Davis’ ears, as it gives the Heels that much better of a chance to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament next season.
Black’s 2021-22 stats weren’t anything crazy when looking at the usual measurements of success — he averaged 4.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.9 steals, and shot 46.6% from the field. The one stat that did dramatically improved from his sophomore and junior seasons is his three-point shooting, as he finished the season averaging 33.3% made shots from deep.
However, we all know that what Black brings to the team goes beyond the box score. His presence on the defensive side of the ball is a huge reason why the Heels were able to make it so far in the NCAA Tournament, as he locked down some of the best players in the country night in and night out. His most notable assignment is Duke’s AJ Griffin, who dominated UNC in the first game of this year’s edition of the rivalry, but was shut down in Cameron and in the Final Four by Black. Having a guy that can guard pretty much every position on the floor is huge, and I can only imagine how much the other teams in the ACC are sweating knowing that he is returning to make their lives a living hell.
It is worth noting though that Leaky Black started to show quite a bit of improvement on offense as well. He hasn’t been the most confident shooter throughout his college career, but in his senior season he really started to show what he is capable of. We saw him attack the rim more, shoot from deep with more confidence, and when he was able to get to the free throw line he knocked down a career-high 86.8% of his attempts. Sure, defense is Black’s bread and butter on this team, but what I am looking forward to is seeing if he can take his game to the next level now that he is in a better place mentally thanks to the work he’s been doing with Jackie Manuel. If he has a breakout 2022-23 season on the offensive side of the ball, this team is going to be extremely difficult to deal with.
Hubert Davis has to be one of the happiest coaches on the planet knowing that he gets back such an elite defender and overall stand-up guy in Leaky Black. What do all of you think about the announcement? Do you think this team has what it takes to return to the Final Four next season, or is there still more work to do? Let us know in the comments below.