It seems fitting on that on the last day of Passover, we discuss our very own Exodus. Not of an emancipated people departing from bondage in Egypt, but rather of our beloved heroes in blue departing Chapel Hill. Every season brings sad farewells, but this season brings many. For the fourth time in Roy Williams’ tenure as UNC head coach, next year’s team will look radically different from this year’s. How have these following seasons gone? Let’s compare the 2019 to 2020 turnover to Exodes (Exodi? Exoduses? My Latin teacher would kill me) past.
2005 to 2006
Departed Players: Sean May, Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, Marvin Williams, Jawad Williams, Melvin Scott, Jackie Manuel
Remaining Players: David Noel, Reyshawn Terry, Wes Miller, Byron Sanders
Incoming Players: Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, Marcus Ginyard, Bobby Frasor, Mike Copeland
Lost Scoring: 83.4 of 88.0 ppg
The original Exodus. The 2005 team, newly crowned as National Champions, departed en masse from Chapel Hill, with four players leaving for the NBA early and three graduating. And these weren’t just any players: These were the top 7 scorers on the title-winning team. Every oddsmaker in the country assumed Carolina was doomed to a cataclysmic fall. They were wrong.
The 2006 team was one of the perfect turnaround stories. A combination of veteran players stepping up (Noel, Terry, and Miller) and freshmen arriving ready to roll (Psycho T, Green, Ginyard, Frasor), they shocked everyone by hanging in the rankings, collecting signature wins, and claiming the best regular season win in college basketball that year when they beat Duke on JJ Redick’s Senior Night.
Not a single Tar Heel fan doesn’t look back on the 2006 season fondly. As far as turnaround seasons go, you can’t beat this one.
2009 to 2010
Departing Players: Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, Bobby Frasor
Remaining Players: Deon Thompson, Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller, Larry Drew II, Justin Watts, Will Graves
Incoming Players: John Henson, Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald, David and Travis Wear
Lost Scoring: 70.8 of 89.8 ppg
Well, we’ve had the good, now comes the bad. The dominant core four of the 2009 National Champions left Chapel Hill in what seemed to be good hands. The 2010 Tar Heels had the makings of a dominant frontline with Davis and Thompson (along with a great backup in Zeller), some promising incoming freshmen in John Henson and the Wears, and a sophomore point guard who had performed serviceably in a backup role to Ty Lawson.
Instead, everything went poorly. Despite a great early season victory over Michigan State, things quickly fell apart for the 2010 Heels, beginning with a brutal loss to the College of Charleston. Injuries to Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller hurt the team’s dominant frontline, no one on the team could shoot the three ball, John Henson couldn’t find a consistent role in the lineup, and Larry Drew was godawful. The Heels crumbled down the stretch, finished 5-11 in the ACC (culminating in an 82-50 beatdown in Durham), and lost in the finals of the NIT.
2010 is undoubtedly the low point of Roy Williams’ tenure and probably the doomsday scenario for future rebuilding years.
2012 to 2013
Departing Players: Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Kendall Marshall, Justin Watts
Remaining Players: Dexter Strickland, Reggie Bullock, PJ Hairston, James Michael McAdoo, Desmond Hubert, Leslie McDonald, Jackson Simmons
Incoming Players: Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, JP Tokoto, Joel James
Lost Scoring: 66.4 of 81.3 ppg
We’ve had the good, we’ve had the bad. Now comes the in-between. After the injury-cursed 2012 core headed for the NBA, UNC had a fair amount of playmakers remaining for the 2013 season, but the departure of Kendall Marshall came as something of a surprise (though, considering he surprisingly jumped into the Lottery, it proved the right move). Freshman Marcus Paige was unexpectedly thrown into the starting position a year ahead of time.
Paige had some early growing pains, was supported somewhat by Strickland, who assumed some ball-handling duties, while the scoring weight fell mainly on the shoulders of Reggie Bullock, PJ Hairston, and James Michael McAdoo. The Heels struggled early in the season, particularly from a lack of size and depth on the interior, but pulled things together towards the end of the season. They finished a respectable 12-6 in the ACC, made the 2013 ACC Final, and gave Kansas a decent fight in the Round of 32 as a very under-seeded 8th seed.
2019 to 2020
Departing Players: Cam Johnson, Luke Maye, Kenny Williams, Coby White, Nassir Little, Seventh Woods
Remaining Players: Garrison Brooks, Brandon Robinson, Leaky Black, Sterling Manley, Andrew Platek, Brandon Huffman
Incoming Players (thus far): Cole Anthony, Anthony Harris, Armando Bacot, Jeremiah Francis, Christian Keeling
Lost Scoring: 68.8 of 85.8 ppg
Not to be overly optimistic, but as of right now, this team seems to most recall the 2006 squad. They have plenty of arriving talent, in Anthony, Bacot, and Harris, all players that will be ready to make major contributions from Day 1. They have a solid returning starter in Brooks, who made some improvements to his game between his freshman and sophomore campaigns, as well as two players in Leaky Black and Brandon Robinson who could very well make leaps in expanded roles. There are questions about perimeter shooting and wing defense, but the offseason is not done yet.