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UNC Basketball: The Tar Heels have their eyes on Matthew Mayer

Could the former Baylor wing be a viable replacement for Brady Manek?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round-North Carolina vs Baylor Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

First thing’s first, I don’t believe any single player will compensate for what Brady Manek meant to this past season’s Carolina team, regardless of whether the Heels fill that last scholarship. Moreover, there’s still no guarantee that Matthew Mayer even returns to college hoops as he’s currently going through the NBA draft process. So while we know the Heels have reached out, it could be weeks before we know if Hubert Davis has a legitimate chance to go after him.

However, with all that being said, some similarities can be drawn between Manek and Mayer. For starters, both spent four seasons playing in the Big 12. At 6-9, 225 pounds, Mayer’s measurements aren’t too different than the 6-9, 230-pound Manek, though I’d argue the latter is more physically imposing. Both players are maximum effort, high energy guys that pride themselves on hustle plays. Manek is better at operating out of the post, but the Tar Heels’ season changed when Coach Davis decided to use him primarily on the outside to space the floor and make timely cuts. This is presumably the type of role that would be expected out of Mayer were he to suit up in Carolina blue.

Although his three-point percentage dropped this past season (39.5% to 32.4%), Mayer faced more pressure to score after Baylor lost a hefty amount of production from its 2021 national championship squad. Given the established shooters UNC has coming back, he would likely have an easier time finding open looks. Mayer is more than just a shooter, though. He’s got legitimate athleticism, solid handles, and his defensive versatility would be a nice complement to that of Leaky Black, while giving Coach Davis the opportunity to create difficult matchups for opposing teams. Needless to say, Mayer’s game would fit seamlessly into the Carolina system.

While some Tar Heel fans (including myself) may be skeptical to welcome in a player from that pesky Baylor squad, it might help to know that Armando Bacot has already given his stamp of approval:

Again, we are still a ways away from receiving clarity on Mayer’s future, but I think we all know what tends to happen when Mando gets involved on the recruiting trail. As we begin to sort through the mess that is the transfer portal, Mayer’s status will be something to monitor for Carolina fans.