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Brady Manek and the new way at Carolina

Long home of the double post, UNC basketball has forever been transformed by a grad transfer that feels like a home grown.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-National Championship-Kansas vs North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Brady Manek’s bonus season at UNC has been an unmitigated success. By any standard that you judge it—statistics, team record, eye test—there is no argument that Manek did not elevate his own play, and by doing so, elevated Carolina’s.

Last season, the post players at Roy Williams’s disposal were Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, Day’Ron Sharpe, and Walker Kessler. Those four players went a combined 5 for 15 from three-point range (Garrison Brooks led the group with a 4-8 season tally, which was buoyed by a 2-3 three-point shooting explosion on Senior Day against Duke). Fifteen total shots from downtown between four bigs. For a whole season.

Compare that to Brady Manek’s lone season in Chapel Hill. The Oklahoma-transfer went 98 for 243, a stellar 40.3%, particularly with that kind of volume. This deadly shooting not only put 294 points on the board, it transformed the court for Carolina. Armando Bacot had space to operate alone in the paint, and he went bananas, increasing his scoring and rebounding averages from 12.3 ppg & 7.8 rpg last season to 16.3 ppg & 13.1 rpg this season. Those should have been good enough for ACC Player of the Year, but you know…

Take a look at Manek’s career statistics:

Blue = UNC, Red = Oklahoma

Across the board, there are career-highs. Points, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, assists. Minutes for the season are 0.1 below his 2019-20 high at Oklahoma, but that factors in the beginning of the season when Dawson Garcia was starting games. When Hubert Davis leaned into his Iron Five, Manek averaged 34.8 mpg, and that accounts for limited minutes against Baylor due to the erroneous ejection, and the NC State game in Raleigh where he get more bench time because the Wolfpack are trash.

Manek was the perfect transfer portal addition for Hubert Davis to enact rapid transformation from how Roy Williams ran the team to the way he will run it moving forward. Both high school and portal stretch-fours should look at how Manek was utilized and salivate at the opportunity to play in a system with the freedom to pull the trigger at will, and showcase their skills to professional teams.

Brady Manek will leave Chapel Hill as a legend. He was on the team that beat Coach K on his Senior Night and in the Final Four, and he will go down in history as one of the Iron Five who, along with Armando Bacot and Caleb Love, had a “300” type stand in the national championship game against Kansas, gamely playing on with a possible concussion. He’ll never have to buy a drink on Franklin Street again for the rest of his life.

Luke Maye—who only attempted 116 three-pointers in his breakout junior season—walked so Brady Manek could run. What will the stretch-four position look like in the years to come under Hubert Davis, now that everyone has film on how the Tar Heels have transformed? The possibilities are tantalizing.