Last Friday, five-star point guard Elliot Cadeau announced that he was reclassifying to the 2023 class in order to play for the Tar Heels this fall. With normal freshmen, this news would be exciting but there would be a lot of questions about how well the incoming player could adjust to the college game. In this case, I feel confident in saying that Cadeau is the best incoming freshman that we’ve seen since Cole Anthony, and as a floor general he may be even better. Cadeau is exactly what was missing from last year’s Carolina roster, and now that the Heels have one of the best point guards in the country on their roster, it should be a lock for this team to make the NCAA Tournament. Right?
Well, let’s talk about that.
It is no secret that college basketball has become quite a mess since the rules changed for the transfer portal. Hubert Davis lost very few players from the 2022 Final Four run, meaning that they went into the 2022-23 season not only assuming they would make the tournament, but they were confident they could make it back to the Final Four and cut down the nets after the final game. Needless to say, what followed was a catastrophe, and there was a massive exodus that followed, which included Caleb Love transferring to Arizona. Last year’s team should have enjoyed way more success than they did, but there were a number of things that happened that led to an extremely disappointing season.
While the roster was depleted due to several Tar Heels leaving for the portal, Hubert Davis worked hard to bring in Jae’Lyn Withers, Paxson Wojcik, Harrison Ingram, and Cormac Ryan. All four players have some very good qualities and should be a net positive for the Heels. What was missing when this roster was constructed, however, was an impact player that could make a dramatic difference from day one. More specifically, while RJ Davis would’ve been good to handle the full-time point guard role, I still had a lot of questions. Did Caleb Love’s presence really impact how well Davis played at the point guard spot? Would he be able to elevate his skills as a passer? Would Seth Trimble be able to back him up well enough at that spot to keep the Heels in games when he needs to get some rest?
Thankfully, Elliot Cadeau is not only an impact player, but he is someone that should be able to easily take control of the facilitator role. I’ve watched a lot of high school point guards, and it has been really hard to come up with anybody that I have watched as impressive as Cadeau is. His court vision is off the charts, he knows where everyone should be on the floor, he can be a dangerous offensive weapon when he needs to be, and he is extremely intelligent. Hubert Davis was handed the best addition to his roster that he could’ve hoped for this offseason, but how he manages this roster will be the difference between making a run in the NCAA Tournament and once again sitting at home in March.
I can only see this situation working one way: Hubert Davis should start Cadeau at the point guard position and put RJ Davis at the two. When Cadeau needs to rest, Davis should either slide to the point guard spot, or Seth Trimble should come in to run things until Cadeau comes back in. I do think that RJ Davis can be a second point guard when needed, but Cadeau should have the ball in his hands as much as possible so that he can either find Armando Bacot in the paint, or he can find someone open on the perimeter. With all due respect to Caleb Love, the huge difference between him and Cadeau is that Cadeau is a player that always wants to make the right play, and nothing else really matters. While Love and Davis failed miserably as a backcourt duo last year, I do think that Cadeau and Davis could be the combo that Hubert Davis needs.
It is really hard to imagine that the 2023-24 Tar Heels would find a way to miss the NCAA Tournament, and this roster could be poised to at least make it to the second weekend. Hubert Davis found a way to build a really good roster on paper, but how he manages it is what will be the difference between fulfilling the expectation of making the NCAA Tournament and landing himself in the hot seat after missing the event yet again. Hopefully last season was an anomaly, because I think we all can agree that we’d rather not live through a season like that ever again.