The 2020-21 Tar Heels have their senior leader back. As first reported by Jonathan Alexander of News & Observer, junior forward Garrison Brooks will return to Carolina for his senior season. Although many were of the belief he had already silently committed to returning, this is a huge boost for a Tar Heel team that will once again be a fairly young team.
This past season, Brooks developed into one of the best all-around players in college basketball despite the Tar Heels struggles to be consistent around him. Brooks finished the season averaging 16.8 points per game, scoring 20 or more points in twelve games, including seven straight prior to the final game of the season against Syracuse. Brooks also saw a major improvement on the glass, averaging 8.5 rebounds per game on the way to a team high twelve double-double, headlined by six consecutive at one point during the season. Brooks' field goal percentage did drop to 53.5%, but that was while taking 185 more shots in 288 more minutes of game time. With the team’s struggles, it’s no shock that Brooks didn’t receive as much recognition in the postseason, but he did come away with second team All-ACC honors.
With his return, the Tar Heels will already have one of the top returning players in college basketball and one of the top candidates to take home the Wooden Award next season. Brooks will hope to team with Armando Bacot once again next year, something that many believe will happen, but has not yet been made official. At the least, he knows he’ll be joined by talented 5✮ big men Walker Kessler and Day’Ron Sharpe and a hoard of young perimeter players that will hope to improve upon what we saw from the perimeter shooters this past season. With Brooks’ return, the thoughts of the Tar Heels ascending right back to the top of the college basketball world don’t seem far fetched at all.