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UNC Basketball Summer Preview: Will Shaver

What kind of role can we expect from the freshman big man?

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - Final Four - Practice Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Last time, we talked about Seth Trimble and what sort of impact he can make this upcoming season. The bouncy freshman pulled off some highlight reel plays for Team USA during the recent 2022 FIBA U18 Americas Championship. His elite athleticism is a big reason Tar Heel fans are so excited to see him don Carolina blue. If you don’t believe me, check out this video of Trimble leaping and dunking over today’s topic of discussion, Will Shaver.

Past preview links:

June 1st: Jalen Washington

June 12th: Tyler Nickel

June 20th: Seth Trimble

Having covered all of the freshmen enrolling this fall, it’s time to evaluate the lone freshman who decided to enroll early. In July of last year, Will Shaver announced he would be joining the Tar Heels in January and redshirting the spring semester. Given the expectations of the program when he came aboard, it was surely a pleasant surprise when Shaver got to be a part of some of the school’s most historic wins en route to a Final Four and title game appearance. Although he wasn’t able to take the floor, the value of simply being present with the team for those experiences can’t be understated.

That being said, there were certainly times the Tar Heels could’ve used Shaver. The Iron Five were valiant in their willingness to give every last drop they had in the tank, but injuries and fatigue undoubtedly played a factor down the home stretch, especially for Armando Bacot. Without a true center to back him up, Bacot was forced to play the vast majority of most games and eventually rolled his ankle in the semifinal against Duke. Although his role may not have been significant, Shaver could’ve been the guy to spell Bacot for stretches and allow him to rest.

At 6’10, 265 pounds, Shaver fits that “true center” mold. He’s got great hands, great touch around the basket, and he can step out and hit shots from beyond the arc. He isn’t the most gifted athlete but his size and skill will allow him to hold his own in the post. Shaver’s versatility is what distinguishes him and makes him a really nice fit for Hubert Davis’ system.

Defensively, it’s about continuing to work on his mobility. Shaver lost around 40 pounds towards the end of high school and still has some work to do when it comes to strength and conditioning. He isn’t exactly a rim protector type, but he also won’t hesitate to get physical with opposing bigs in the paint.

In all likelihood, we won’t be seeing Shaver take the floor terribly often this upcoming season. After not having any legitimate options to back up Bacot at center, Coach Davis went out and got Northwestern transfer Pete Nance. Nance may very well start at the four alongside Bacot, but he’ll also be expected to play the five when Bacot needs a rest. Thus, those relief minutes may be harder for Shaver to come by.