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UNC Basketball: Is Cormac Ryan the perfect complimentary piece?

The Notre Dame transfer has the bonafides to slide next to RJ Davis in the backcourt, without stepping on his toes.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

UNC got more good news on Thursday with the announcement that Notre Dame transfer Cormac Ryan committed to the Tar Heels. Hubert Davis continues to fill the roster with shooters, in an attempt to right the top wrong of last season - that ugly 31.2% three-point shooting.

Next year’s team will have two main weapons, RJ Davis and Armando Bacot. Rather than have another alpha scorer next to RJ like Caleb Love, Hubert Davis seems to have taken an approach where he takes talented complimentary players that can help lift up his stars. Ryan, Paxson Wojcik, and Jae’Lyn Withers aren’t coming to Chapel Hill to take the ball out of Armando Bacot’s hands. RJ Davis is still going to run the point, and he’ll still be more of a shooting point guard than a passer.

What these new guys can do is space the floor so that RJ has more room to shoot or use his slippery ball-handling to get to the basket, or let Bacot dominate his defender one-on-one. Hopefully, they’ll hit a lot of open jumpers when defenses collapse on Bacot, or when Davis beats his man and forces a bad switch.

Cormac Ryan is an interesting prospect in that regard. Last season, his 3P% dipped to 34.4% when he increased his attempts by 1.7 per game to 5.7. In the 2021-22 season, he only shot four 3-pointers per game, making 40.7%. To compare, Caleb Love shot 7.4 3-pointers per game last season, hitting just 29.9% of them.

If Cormac starts next to RJ, he figures to make a higher percentage of 3’s at a lower volume, giving RJ (who shot 5.3 threes per game at 36.2% - despite shooting with a broken finger in his shooting hand for most of the season). A better balance of RJ and Cormac figures to improve Carolina’s downtown shooting, just for the fact that they won’t take as many of... those shots. Presumably.

Besides his shooting, Ryan has the experience of three ACC campaigns during his stint at Notre Dame. He is familiar with the competition, and at this level he scored 12.3 ppg and dished out 2.5 assists per game. Check out his season highlights video above. He had a great feel for feeding his bigs (particularly Nate Laszewski) on slips and pick and rolls. Armando Bacot will feast on these types of dimes, particularly if the floor is well spaced with three to four perimeter shooters keeping help defenders honest.

Hubert Davis is clearly not finished shaping next year’s roster through the transfer portal, but so far, he has a definite “type.” Cormac Ryan has been through the battles in the ACC and can help Carolina make the Tournament next season. His biggest contribution to the team may be how much he helps RJ and Armando, more than his individual stats.