It’s official: sophomore point guard Caleb Love is returning next season to play for the Tar Heels. Despite some buzz prior to the start of the season that Love’s NBA Draft stock could make this his final season, the St. Louis native is coming back to campus to finish what he started. This means that Hubert Davis gets to keep his two starting guards, and it also means that Coach Davis will have true depth at the guard spot going into the 2022-23 season.
Despite taking a lot of heat from critics, Caleb Love improved dramatically his sophomore season. He finished the 2021-22 season averaging 15.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.6 assists, all while shooting 36% from three-point range. Of course the elephant in the room is his 37.1% field goal percentage, which does speak to the hot and cold nature of his game. However, when he was was on fire he was scoring hot, and there was no better example of that than his 28-point performance against Duke, which included a three-point dagger over Mark Williams that will be remembered for the rest of our lives. It goes without saying that Love is a very polarizing player, but the fact of the matter is that the Heels wouldn’t have gotten to the national championship game without him, and that is why it is so exciting to hear that he is returning for at least one more season.
On a deeper level, Love returning next season really speaks to just how committed to the program he really is. There were rumblings after his freshman season that he was going to enter the NBA Draft and not look back, but he decided that his business in Chapel Hill wasn’t done. He is now a much better player than he was at the time, and yet he is still not ready to hang up his Carolina blue jersey. Sure, his NBA Draft stock is nowhere near what it was when the season started, but we’ve seen weirder things before (J.P. Tokoto always comes to mind when I think about this stuff). The reason Love is returning to campus is because he is dedicated to Hubert Davis and this program, and now the question moving forward is can he take an even bigger step forward in his game. I think he has all of the tools to do it, so we will have to wait and see what the junior version of Love looks like.
Today is truly a great day to be a Tar Heel, and I’m excited to see what this team is able to do next season. Remember: this is going to be the oldest backcourt that we’ve seen since Joel Berry and Nate Britt were on campus together. I am not one that likes making comparisons, so make of that what you will. But what do you all think of Love’s announcement? Let us know in the comments below.