top of page

Heel Tough Blog: 5 Key Questions for Carolina Basketball in 2023-24

The Tar Heel basketball team is coming off of perhaps the most disappointing season in the history of college basketball, as they went from preseason No.1 to missing the NCAA tournament. It was an offseason of dealing with the mass exodus of players transferring out for Hubert Davis, then reloading with transfers and freshmen coming in. With key players returning, (Armando Bacot, RJ Davis,) and highly touted newcomers entering the fold, (Elliot Cadeau, Harrison Ingram) this team is an interesting unknown. Meaning we have plenty of questions to ask and answer. And that is what we will do here, ask and answer five of the toughest questions for the upcoming basketball season.

1. Is UNC Ready for Life Without Caleb Love?

Caleb Love was one of the most interesting players to ever play in a UNC uniform. You can’t mention his name without mentioning the dagger against Duke. You never knew what you were going to get out of him, yet when he did show up to play, he gave you the sense that he could be one of the best players in the country. The question is though, how do you replace him now that he has transferred to Arizona? UNC brought in a couple of new backcourt players in Cormac Ryan, a 6-5 senior who transferred in from Notre Dame and reclassified freshman Elliot Cadeau. RJ Davis will also likely take on more of an off-ball scoring role with no Love around, and the team should also benefit from not having to deal with his shot selection. UNC has the manpower to replace Love in Cadeau and Davis, but how Hubert Davis goes about doing that will be a huge factor in whether or not UNC is successful this year.

2. How Big of an Impact Can Harrison Ingram Make?

Harrison Ingram was arguably the highest-profile transfer that UNC brought in over the offseason. He is a versatile 6-7 235-pound wingman who can play both forward spots and can be a skilled scorer. He is a former McDonalds All-American who averaged 10.5 points for the Stanford Cardinal. North Carolina has multiple three talented scorers, and Ingram will not be relied on nearly as much as he was at Stanford, which should help him as not as many defensive eyes will be on him. The place where he will have to make an impact though will be on the boards. Hubert Davis has made it clear he wants to play small and run. This means that Ingram will be relied on to grab boards and guard bigger guys. He is more than capable of doing this however so look for Ingram to be a big reason why UNC returns to national prominence.

3. Is Elliot Cadeau Ready for Big-Time ACC Basketball?

This is a complicated answer that we likely won’t find the answer to right away. There’s no denying that Cadeau is an exceptional talent, his five-star rating says so, but he was supposed to be a high school senior this year, as he reclassified to join the team over the summer, so we don’t know if his maturity level on the court will be up to par or not. We did get a good look at him during UNC’s annual Live Action with Carolina Basketball preseason scrimmage, and he looked pretty good. However, that was with an all-UNC crowd and there was little to no pressure on the freshman to produce. There’s a chance that Cadeau starts in the backcourt alongside RJ Davis so we will see plenty of him early on, and he will be a huge factor as to whether UNC can be good, or great.

4. Can UNC Improve the Shooting Numbers?

North Carolina’s shooting woes were well documented last year as they shot an abysmal 31.2 percent from beyond the arc. Now, part of this was due to poor shot selection, but the Heels also just did not make shots at any point in time last year. RJ Davis dealt with a finger issue all year, Caleb Love always seemed to want to attempt the toughest shots possible, and the other players on the team just were not shooters. Hubert Davis seems to have fixed most of those problems, as he has brought in shooters in Cormac Ryan and Paxson Wojick. However, it’s the guys like Harrison Ingram and Elliot Cadeau who will make or break the overall percentage. They are the guys who will likely only shoot when open, and those are the shots that the Tar Heels missed last year that they must make this year. UNC has the horses to be a great shooting team, but then again, we said they did last year so this is another case of wait-and-see going into the season.

5. How Big of a Rotation Should Hubert Davis Utilize?

Hubert Davis has been notorious for frustrating fans with his inconsistent rotation. He has used 7 to 8 guys and not necessarily the ones the fans felt deserved to be on the court. Davis has said that he, “doesn’t make the rotation, the players do,” with how they play in practice, however, he might not have a choice as this year’s team looks like his deepest yet. The concern is in the frontcourt, however, those questions may have been answered with the impressive performance of Zayden High in the preseason scrimmage referenced earlier. He projects as the kind of guy who could just eat minutes at the power-forward spot whenever Davis needs him to. UNC realistically has five guys, (six counting Harrison Ingram, who projects as more of a power forward depending on how UNC wants to play,) who could play positions 1-3 with Paxson Wojick and Seth Trimble likely coming off the bench for RJ Davis, Cadeau, and Ryan. So this is a team that could easily go 9 deep. High is the wild card, because if he emerges, Hubert Davis might not have a choice but to go even deeper into his bench.

The Tar Heels open the 2023-24 season next week when they host Radford at 7 PM on ACC Network.

The Four Corners Podcast:


bottom of page