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UNC Women’s Basketball: Two of UNC’s incoming first-years will redshirt the 2023-24 season

One of the country’s best first-year classes won’t all be able to make their mark straight away.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Ohio Photo by Tyler Schank/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Some of the hype for possibly Courtney Banghart’s best recruiting class yet at UNC is going to have to wait a year, as it was announced on Tuesday that two Tar Heel first-year players have decided to redshirt the upcoming season. Both Ciera Toomey and Laila Hull underwent surgery this summer for injuries sustained in high school and will take the year to fully rehab while maintaining all of their eligibility.

Toomey is maybe the most hyped recruit for UNC women’s basketball in some time. The 6’4 center from Dunmore, Pennsylvania is the 4th-ranked player in her class and also fit the most glaring need on the Heels’ roster as a big body who can score, defend, and rebound inside. She missed most of her senior season with a torn ACL, but came back late in the season to help her school win a state title, earning Pennsylvania’s Miss Basketball title in the process.

Hull also earned Miss Basketball honors in her state of Indiana, where she averaged better than 22 points a game for Zionsville High School as a senior. The wing from the suburbs of Indianapolis hit 42% of her three-pointers in her last year of high school ball and is a versatile scorer and defender.

Courtney Banghart, in her announcement that the two would be redshirting, had this to say:

When any player that you are excited to coach redshirts, there is obviously an element of disappointment as their process is a bit delayed... But this decision also means that they get a year to rehab, build strength, and better prepare for the collegiate game, so in many ways it’s a win. I’ve already been really inspired by the work ethic and dedication of both Ciera and Laila and am thrilled with their decision to get four full years with us on the court. I know we will continue to get their best as they work hard to return even stronger.

The Heels still welcome the rest of the ‘23 first-year scholarship class, namely guard Reniya Kelly and forward RyLee Grays, both four-star recruits ranked in the top-100 of their class. They join 7 returning players and 3 transfers on a team that, despite considerable turnover, is looking to take the next step for a program that has made the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 the past two years.