Last week, we covered Armando Bacot and what to expect in his final go-round at Carolina. As one of the most accomplished players in college basketball, he offers a good reason for any player to come to Chapel Hill. Thus, it’s no surprise that Hubert Davis and his staff were able to secure a commitment from Notre Dame’s Cormac Ryan.
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After spending his first year at Stanford, Ryan transferred to Notre Dame and sat out the 2019-2020 season. He played the past three seasons with the Irish and will now use his final year of eligibility to suit up for the Tar Heels. By the time the season starts, Ryan will be 25 years of age. As someone who’s currently 25, I’m not sure if that makes me feel young or old, but I do know that’s not supposed to happen.
While Ryan’s experience is beneficial, that wasn’t exactly the issue for Carolina last season. It’s what he brings from a basketball standpoint that will hopefully improve some areas that were lacking. For starters, Ryan is a true shooter. His percentages may not entirely reflect that due to volume and the quality of some of his shots, but he’s a guy you can’t leave open. With his size (6’5), Ryan is a much-needed addition for a Tar Heels squad that struggled mightily from beyond the arc. He is more than a shooter, too.
Last season for Notre Dame, Ryan averaged 12.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists while shooting 40.9% from the floor, 34.4% from three, and 82.7% from the free throw line. He was forced into a difficult role with an Irish team that was uncharacteristically bad offensively. Still, he was the undisputed leader and set the tone on both ends of the floor, according to Mike Brey. Ryan has been especially praised for his vocal leadership and constant communication with his teammates. This is excellent news for a Carolina group that was often not on the same page.
As a scorer, Ryan can do it all three levels. His shooting ability is what stands out the most, but he’s not limited to that. While not exceptionally athletic, Ryan is quick enough to get by bigger defenders and finish at the rim. He isn’t the flashiest passer but he plays high-IQ basketball and finds his teammates in the right spots. Ryan is a guy that, even if he’s not directly involved, is always helping dictate the offense and he moves well without the ball.
Defensively, Ryan provides some versatility with his length. He won’t necessarily replace the lockdown ability that Leaky Black has, but he’s a committed defender and draws a lot of charges by being in the right place. Ryan’s communication is a big reason for success on this side of the ball, for both him and his team. He is great at keeping everyone engaged and calling out plays before they happen.
By all accounts, Ryan appears to be an excellent fit for this roster. The attention that Bacot draws down low should free him up for some open looks and hopefully let him work with more space. While Bacot and RJ Davis are the established leaders, Ryan’s unselfishness and devotion to winning should allow him to assimilate seamlessly.
It’s worth noting that Ryan was a 40.7% three-point shooter just two seasons ago. The role he played on that team is arguably closer to what will be expected of him at Carolina. He’s got the intangibles down and I’m confident in his ability to be an effective teammate. If he can be relied on to knock down the open three when it’s there, Ryan will be a major part of this squad.