As the transfer portal now has over 1,000 players currently listed, it was only a matter of time before Roy Williams used that to his advantage, to find the talent necessary to get Carolina back to the top of ACC. His first of potentially many conversations with potential transfers was that of Noah Locke, from Florida out of the SEC. Locke, who entered the transfer portal last week, has already received interest from plenty of Power 5 programs, and rightfully so .As a freshman in Gainesville, Locke set a program record with 81 made triples during the 2018-19 season. Despite last season being shortened due to the coronavirus, Locke still connected on 79 three pointers, before making 57 this season while shooting 40% from behind the arc. For his career as a Florida Gator, Locke was 10.1 points per game scorer, while shooting 41% from the field, 40% on three pointers, and a 76% free throw shooter.
While Carolina has lost three players from their front court since the season ended, the back court is still a focus for Roy Williams and this staff. While Caleb Love has already announced his return for his sophomore season, it’s unknown at this time what guys like R.J. Davis or Anthony Harris will decide to do moving forward. Even if those guys are to return for another season in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels are going to need all the back court help they can get. With the aforementioned departures in the front court, it appears that Carolina will be a guard driven team like we saw in 2018-19, when the program last reached the Sweet 16.
A big reason why the team never put it all together this season, was the lack of experience in the back court. For the first time since 2007-08, Carolina started an all freshmen back court in Caleb Love and Kerwin Walton. While both of those guys were highly sought after recruits by this staff, and many others around the country, neither Love or Walton can be compared to the likes of Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. To make matters worse, their first two options off the bench R.J. Davis and Anthony Harris were also freshmen. No other program in college basketball asks more out of their point guard than North Carolina, and not having an experienced player in this system held this team back more than anything else this season.
While it’s too early to speculate whether or not Locke will suit up in Carolina Blue next season, it’s not too early to wonder how he’d help this team. This move feels a lot like the addition of Cam Johnson back in 2017-18, as Locke is an experienced player from a Power 5 conference. Back on 2019-20, UNC added Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce from Charleston Southern and William & Mary respectively, and that step up in competition appeared to be too much to adjust in just one season. Noted as a career 40% three point shooter, Locke would give wingman Kerwin Walton some help on the perimeter in terms of shooting the basketball. Walton led UNC in three point shooting at 42%, as a team overall, Carolina shot just 32%. HIs experience, combined with his perimeter shooting prowess, could prove to be invaluable for the Tar Heels next season.
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