This season will probably see the most wholesale changes in the men’s basketball roster since the 2006 season. That team saw national champion David Noel welcome freshmen Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, Marcus Ginyard, and Bobby Frasor. They would form, gel, and grow in rapid succession, culminating in a heroic victory at Duke on JJ Reddick’s senior night. Will similar heights be achieved with this year’s squad?
It has an interesting mix of potential and intrigue. Two freshmen bring juice, creativity, and grit. The transfers bring star power, shooting, and the ability to cover minutes across all positions on the floor. That means guessing how minutes will be distributed or who will lead the team in certain statistical categories before the season was a fool’s errand.
With that in mind, the Stock Report will try to capture the status and progress of the team as the season goes, a week at a time. Week one is in the books, so let’s dive in.
The old heads: Armando Bacot and RJ are the two best known quantities on this year’s team, so folks know what to expect from the two. RJ’s biggest change is playing without Caleb Love in the same backcourt, and so far, he’s greatly benefitted from the wide-open space. He’s been efficient and smooth—a real killer.
Armando looks trimmer and fit, and he’s marched on his record-setting trail like Sherman headed to the beach: back-to-back double-doubles, leading the team in scoring in both games, and a 20-rebound effort against Lehigh.
But the biggest stat to monitor is minutes. In both games, neither player logged 30 minutes. That won’t last all season, but the longer Carolina can take care of opponents while trusting their bench, the better off Bacot and Davis will be for the long season ahead.
Zayden High: The freshman post from San Antonio has been a whirling dervish, bringing energy and intensity on defense and on the boards. High was recruited ostensibly as a stretch four, not as a baby Dennis Rodman. Still, UNC will take whatever it can get from him, as the initial returns look promising.
High increased his minutes from Radford (8) to Lehigh (12), along with his rebounds (one to five, including two offensive rebounds when UNC was beating down Lehigh’s defense with second-chance points in the 2nd half) and points. He scored his first college points at the line with a smooth shooting stroke that looks like it will translate out to the 3-point line in time.
It’s early days against weaker opponents, so it’s important for High to make an impression. He’ll be fighting for playing time against Jalen Washington and Jae’Lyn Withers from the bench, but also against Armando Bacot and Harrison Ingram if Hubert Davis reverts to form and plays his starters heavy minutes.
Paxson Wojcik: Some were surprised to see Paxson Wojcik named as a starter ever since the exhibition game. Wojcik has maintained his place, but we’d be fools to think this arrangement is set in stone. Bobby Frasor could only hold the starting point guard spot from Ty Lawson for a spell. This season, there is a star-freshman-point-guard-sized elephant in the room named Elliott Cadeau that will keep getting better and better, forcing Coach Davis to make a decision.
Wojcik has a steep hill to climb in order to maintain his spot in the pecking order. Even though he’s started both games, he has played the least amount of minutes in the starting five (20’ and 12’ respectively). Part of this drop in minutes can be explained away by his three fouls against Lehigh, but watch out for Cadeau. His minutes went up from 19’ against Radford to 21’ against Lehigh.
Wojcik will also have to ensure he positively affects the game on offense. In the season opener, he shot 100% from the field, including Carolina’s first 3-pointer. Against Lehigh, his only two points were from the free throw line. Tar Heel fans just said goodbye to Leaky Black. They don’t want another player who lets defenses sag on Bacot and RJ.
Whose stock do you think rose compared to off-season expectations? Who needs to step up their game or get left behind? Let us know in the comments!