After losing six players to the transfer portal, Hubert Davis has wasted little time searching for replacements. The Tar Heels have secured four commitments from players in the portal, all from wings who are 6’5 or taller. All four of them also have the ability to shoot the three in some capacity. It’s not exactly surprising Carolina is targeting this type of player given last year’s struggles. Nonetheless, the Tar Heels have filled some necessary holes and established a formidable roster. Of course, with two open scholarships still, things likely aren’t set in stone just yet. That said, let’s take a look at the Heels’ overall transfer portal performance.
Caleb Love (Michigan): 16.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.8 apg, 37.8 FG%
Puff Johnson (Penn State): 4.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 38.7 FG%
Dontrez Styles (Georgetown): 1.4 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 36.8 FG%
Justin McKoy (Hawaii): 1.7 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 46.2 FG%
Tyler Nickel (Virginia Tech): 2.1 ppg, 0.6 rpg, 37.5 FG%
Will Shaver (Belmont): 0.7 ppg, 0.3 rpg
Players Coming In:
Harrison Ingram (Stanford): 10.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.7 apg, 40.8 FG%
Cormac Ryan (Notre Dame): 12.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.5 apg, 40.9 FG%
Jae’Lyn Withers (Louisville): 8.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 43.3 FG%, 41.7 3FG%
Paxson Wojcik (Brown): 14.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.2 apg, 46.1 FG%, 38.0 3FG%
What They’re Losing:
On the surface, having six players enter the portal sounds like a lot and perhaps even reason to be alarmed. However, when you examine each individual situation, it makes more sense. Will Shaver is a guy who would have likely always been on the blue team. He has decent size and solid intangibles but I’m not sure he’s athletic enough to hold his own against ACC competition. Justin McKoy delivered a nice spark off the bench at times throughout his two years in Chapel Hill, but it made sense for him to spend his COVID year somewhere he’d get legitimate playing time (on an island, no less).
The departures of Dontrez Styles and Tyler Nickel are also unsurprising, though they do sting a bit more. After a promising freshman campaign, Styles seemed poised to have a breakout sophomore season. For whatever reason, Coach Davis lost some trust in Styles and he was buried even further down the depth chart. Nickel, on the other hand, had some really nice stretches offensively, but it felt like he never got a true opportunity to crack the rotation. Both players are athletic and versatile and should bring plenty to the table for their new respective teams.
I think the losses of Puff Johnson and Caleb Love have affected Carolina fans the most. Both guys, especially Love, made incredible contributions to the Heels’ magical run to the national title two years ago. Johnson’s career has been plagued by injuries but his resilience and intensity on the court will never be forgotten. Caleb Love will forever and always be a Tar Heel legend. Some people wanted to make him the boogeyman for all the team’s problems this past year but those issues went far deeper. I will tentatively accept that his departure is the best move for both parties and wish him and Johnson nothing but the best moving forward.
What They’re Getting:
The first commit Carolina secured was graduate transfer Paxson Wojcik. Wojcik played his first two seasons at Loyola Chicago where he shot 41% from the perimeter. As a senior at Brown last season, he averaged 15 points and seven rebounds while shooting 38% from three (on nearly six attempts per game). Wojcik likely won’t be a massive part of the rotation, but he’s a guy with size and length that can come in and knock down some shots.
At 6’9, Jae’Lyn Withers provides the Heels with a versatile wing who can stretch the floor. He averaged nine points and five rebounds for Louisville this past year while shooting 41.7% from three. Withers’ defense could use some polishing and he can be turnover prone from time to time. However, when he’s at his best, Withers is a legitimate offensive threat in the ACC. Given Louisville’s abysmal season, he should benefit from playing with a more cohesive group.
I believe perhaps the most important pick up is Notre Dame’s Cormac Ryan. He is excellent shooting off the catch and he does a great job of moving without the basketball. He also plays with tenacity and can be very disruptive on the defensive end. Ryan shot just 34% from deep this past year, but part of that is because of the offensive burden he carried due to the lack of weapons around him. With players like Withers, RJ Davis, and D’Marco Dunn on the roster, Ryan should be able to find cleaner looks for himself. Thus, I expect that percentage will be closer to, if not over 40%.
Harrison Ingram is a former five-star that Roy Williams recruited out of high school. After going to play for another Tar Heel in Jerod Haase for two years at Stanford, Ingram is ready to don the Carolina blue. He’s a plus athlete and has extremely sound ball skills for a player his size. Ingram’s offensive game is methodical but effective. He might not be as dangerous as the other guys from behind the arc (32% last year), but he’s not a player you can forget about. Defensively, Ingram is likely the guy you want on the opposing team’s best player. He has great length, moves his feet well, and plays with tenacity. Though they’re different players altogether, Ingram should take care of many things that will be missing with the exodus of Leaky Black.
Obviously it’s impossible to know until November rolls back around, but I’d definitely say the portal madness has been a net positive for the Heels this offseason. Despite losing some significant production, Coach Davis has done an excellent job constructing this roster around the core of RJ Davis and Armando Bacot. The incoming transfers should compliment their games quite nicely and allow the offense to run smoother. Again, it’s very possible that Carolina fills one or both of its last couple scholarships, but for now, the Tar Heels have a roster that I’m confident can contend in the ACC.