Since the end of the 2020-21 season, there was a lot of unknown in regards to Carolina’s roster heading into next season. The first full week of the off season saw Walker Kessler and Sterling Manley transfer out of the program, all while Day’Ron Sharpe announced his decision to enter the NBA Draft. While losing three post players wasn’t expected, the worries about who could leave was in the back court. Caleb Love’s dad took to Twitter to express his frustration about his son’s first season in Chapel Hill. That action made the Tar Heel fanbase nervous they could lose their point guard for the fourth straight season. Last night Love announced he will return for his sophomore season, the first real “win” of the off season for Roy Williams and his program.
Upon arriving on campus, Love was thought of to be the perfect fit for the way Roy Williams wants his point guards to play. In high school, Love excelled at pushing the ball in transition, breaking down the defense in the half court, getting to the rim. But an unusual summer for college athletes due to the global pandemic, hindered the learning for Love. As we all know, the learning curve for point guards under Roy Williams is steep, but they’ve always figured it out, usually during their first season in Chapel Hill. Love never appeared to figure it all out this season, and it’s understandable as to why. He didn’t have a normal pre-season or a full non-conference season to work out the kinks, and get a better understanding of how to do what was being asked of him. Which is what led to the up and down play from the start of the season, and is a big reason why the team never turned the corner
Love’s averages for the season weren’t pretty, as he averaged 10.5 points on just 32% shooting from the field, and just 27% from behind the three point line. Shot selection will be a big part of his off season, as well as being able to finish more consistently at the rim. The good news for him is that floor generals that have returned to play a second season under Roy Williams have seen their shooting numbers improve:
Raymond Felton: 49%-56%
Ty Lawson: 56%-57%
Larry Drew II: 40%-48%
Kendall Marshall: 48%-53%
Marcus Paige: 44%-54%
Joel Berry II: 49%-53%
There is a lot of potential for Caleb Love, that’s a big reason as to why he was a 5 star prospect out of high school, and was a coveted recruit in his recruiting cycle. Tar Heel fans saw the best version of Love against Duke where he had a historic performance in Cameron Indoor Stadium scoring 25 points and handing out 7 assists. But there were also games where Love wasn’t a factor on either end of the floor. There will be a lot of things Love will seek to improve on during the coming months, but the biggest key for him is to find consistency, as this will be a guard driven team next season.
A lot of people were counting out this team heading into next season as they lost two transfers, and a player to the NBA Draft. With the return of Love that means Carolina will return their starting point guard for the first time since the 2017-18 season. As we’ve grown accustomed to over the years, a Tar Heel team with stability at the point guard position always has potential to be a dangerous one.