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UNC basketball: Remembering Tar Heel transfers of the past

With the recent Cam Johnson news, let’s take a look at other Heels who have transferred

If you had to ask a college basketball fan what is “wrong” with college hoops in 2017, the majority would probably respond that the one-and-done NBA rule is causing the biggest issue. Shortly down that list, however, is where you would find the issue of player transfers.

Whether it be a true transfer or a grad transfer, the number of players who decide to switch programs with eligibility remaining has been growing yearly, reaching over 700 in 2016. Similar to the one-and-done rule, the Tar Heels and Roy Williams haven’t been nearly as afflicted or aided with transfers compared to other power conference programs.

Having said that, UNC basketball has still had a few transfers come in and a few more transfer out of the light blue and argyle jerseys. With the recent news of Cam Johnson making his way from Pittsburgh to Chapel Hill, let’s take a look at the recent transfers to and from UNC.

First, the transfers from the UNC program since 2000:

Neil Fingleton (2000-2001)

The enormous seven-foot-five Englishmen was a McDonald’s All American before coming to Chapel Hill. As a freshman he only appeared in one game and received a medical redshirt for the 2000-2001 season due to back surgery. That’s all the Heels fans would get to see of him, however, as he transferred to Holy Cross in Massachusetts. He only played in 34 games at his new school, averaging 2.7 points and 1.6 rebounds for his career.

After his playing career, Fingleton became an actor and appeared in films such as X-Men: First Class and the popular TV show Game of Thrones. In sad news to Tar Heels everywhere, Fingleton passed away in February 2017 at the age of 36.

RIP Big Fella

Adam Boone (2000-2002)

The six-foot-two point guard was the Minnesota Player of the Year in 2000. He decided to come play for Matt Dougherty. As a freshman, Boone played in every game but one, and averaged 1.5 points and 1.4 assists per game. As a sophomore Boone was a starter on the infamous 8-20 team in 2001-2002. He averaged 7.2 points per game and led the team with 3.2 assists per game.

After his sophomore year he transferred back home to the University of Minnesota, where he sat out his NCAA-mandated year then ended up having a solid career. As a junior he averaged 8.4 points per game and 4.1 assists, and after being granted a 6th year of NCAA eligibility due to injury, he averaged 10.3 points and 4.7 assists as a senior.

Brian Morrison (2000-2002)

Another guard coming in for the 2000-2001 season, Morrison came to the Heels from Washington. He also played in all but one game while averaging 3.0 points a game. Also a sophomore on the 8-20 team, he split time at both guard positions, averaging 7.1 points and 2.6 assists while leading the team in three-pointers made with 42. His decision to transfer led him to UCLA (which will become a theme here), where he averaged 8.5 points and 7.4 points a game as a junior and senior respectively.

Alex Stepheson (2006-2008)

Stepheson came to UNC via Los Angeles, California. He was a four-star prospect and ranked the 55th overall recruit by Scout.com. His freshman season, he appeared in every game averaging 2.1 points per game and 2.2 rebounds per game in 6.4 minutes of action. Sophomore year, he received a little more playing time at 14.5 minutes, and was compiled 4.3 points and 4.5 rebounds.

Stepheson decided to head back home to USC to complete his collegiate career. He averaged 8.5 points and 2.2 rebounds as a junior, and 7.4 points and 2.0 rebounds as a senior. After spending a few seasons playing overseas, Stepheson came back to play in the NBA Developmental League and was named NBDL first team all league in 2016. He is currently playing for the Meralco Bolts in the Philippine Basketball Association.

Larry Drew II (2008-2011)

Tar Heel fans already know the odyssey that was Larry Drew II’s UNC career. He came to Chapel Hill as another McDonald’s All American in 2008. He was a 4-star player and the 68th recruit overall in the 2008 class from Scout.com. As a freshman, Drew split time as a backup guard with Bobby Frasor on the national championship team, averaging 1.4 points and 1.9 assists in 9.6 minutes. As a sophomore he was handed the reins of the UNC offense. He averaged 8.5 points and 3.9 assists in 28.8 minutes while starting every game but senior night for the Heels.

His junior year, however, turned out to be quite tumultuous. Struggling to repeat his success from his sophomore campaign, and budding freshman star Kendall Marshall nipping at his heels before eventually taking over the starting point guard spot, Drew left the team and the UNC campus in February of 2011. He finished out his college career at UCLA, averaging 7.5 points and 7.3 assists a game. Drew played 12 NBA games in 2014-2015 but split time between the NBDL and overseas leagues as well.

Travis Wear and David Wear (2009-2010)

The Wear twins from Huntington Beach, California, where they were also “burger boys” (McDonald’s All Americans) coming out of high school. Named the 55th and 56th best recruits in the country by Scout.com, the Wears came to UNC the year after the 2009 championship/mass exodus of talent. Both stayed one season in Chapel Hill, averaging 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds (Travis), and 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds (David). Both twins transferred to UCLA (have you noticed the theme yet?).

Both had similar UCLA careers with David averaging 7.9 points per game and 5 rebounds a game, and Travis averaging 9.8 points per game and 4.7 rebounds per game. After his collegiate career, David began in the NBDL before playing overseas where he still competes. Travis made it to the NBA, playing 51 games for the New York Knicks in the 2014-2015 season. He averaged 3.9 points and 2.1 rebounds in 13.2 minutes. He is currently in the NBDL

Drew II and Travis Wear trap together before heading to UCLA

Now, the players who have come to Chapel Hill via transfer:

Wes Miller (2004-2007)

Miller comes with a little bit of an asterisk because he came from James Madison and did not have a spot at UNC when he made the decision to enroll. He was successful at walking on the 2004-2005 national championship team before earning a scholarship and starting position in 2005-2006. He averaged 7.2 points and led the team in 3-point percentage at 44.1%, good enough for 7th all time in Carolina history.

As a senior, his role was reduced, but he still shot 33% from behind the arc in his final campaign. Currently, Miller is gearing up for his 7th year as the head coach for UNC-Greensboro where he has seen a lot of success. In 2012, he was voted SoCon Coach of the Year, and in 2017 the Spartans were one game away from making the NCAA tournament.

Justin Knox (2010-2011)

Knox was the Heels’ most recent graduate transfer. He came from Alabama where he averaged 5.0 points and 3.8 rebounds in his three seasons. For UNC, Knox was the first big off the bench behind Tyler Zeller and John Henson on this Elite 8 team. In his 14.4 minutes a game he averaged 4.6 points per game to go with 3.2 rebounds a game. After his time in Chapel Hill, he began a career overseas where he is still currently playing.

Luke Davis (2012-2015)

Davis came to UNC via Gardner-Webb with three seasons of eligibility remaining. Averaging only 4.9 minutes and 0.3 points a game, Davis’ legacy was felt more in practice than in games. His GoHeels.com bio called him “one of the hardest workers on the team.”

Cam Johnson (2017-?)

A lot has already been written about Johnson (here is our article from him committing to UNC) so I won’t cover it in much detail now. Now that he has received permission to leave Pitt, he has the potential to be the best transfer in recent memory for the Heels; and he may have to be to get Roy’s boys to their third straight Final Four.

The Tar Heels haven’t had much attrition due to transfers but have not received a ton of help from transfers either. Hopefully our newest transfer bucks this trend. In a college basketball landscape where transfers have become more and more popular, I think the Heels may continue to get their feet wet in the transfer stream.