For the first time since the season came to an end with a loss in the national championship game, Carolina Basketball head coach Hubert Davis met with assembled media at the Smith Center, as his basketball camp is underway. This off-season is different compared to last season, as Davis was transitioning into being the head coach, following the retirement of Roy Williams, whereas now he has one season under his belt, and is eager for the 2022-23 season to get here, as his team figures to be one of the favorites to get back to the Final Four and win the national championship. Here are our biggest takeaways from his 30 minutes at the podium today:
It’s not common for a team that lost in the national championship game to return starters, let alone four like UNC will do this season. Factor in that those returning starters will all be upperclassmen, and Carolina will be one of the oldest, most experienced teams in all of college basketball next season. That may come to the surprise to many around the sport, but not Coach Davis, as he never thought any of his players were going to leave for the NBA, and that once they tasted success at UNC, they’d want to come back for more.
UNC currently has one available scholarship for next season, and they are actively looking for ways to improve the roster. Pete Nance, a graduate transfer from Northwestern will be on campus this week, as Carolina looks to go about replacing the production and leadership left behind by Brady Manek. Davis reiterated though that the transfer has to fit what Carolina is on and off the basketball court.
If you look at the class coming in this season, and the class the staff is putting together for next year, it’s safe to say that recruiting is where it should be given the stature of the program. Hubert said the biggest difference in recruiting this summer as compared to last is that last summer they were telling recruits what the program was going to look like on the floor, whereas now they can show recruits. Recruiting is all bout selling yourself and your product, and there isn’t a better guy in the country at selling Carolina Basketball than Hubert Davis.
Redshirt freshman big man Will Shaver joined the program in January of last season, as he adjusted to life as a college student, and got himself acclimated to the UNC program. While Hubert deemed his transition a successful one, he says he won’t be allowing players to enroll early during the season moving forward. He made the comparison to early enrollees for the football program, with the distinct difference being that football isn’t in the middle of their season, as basketball is
Carolina made the national title game behind the “Iron 5”, as Hubert Davis mainly played his starters for the last month and a half of the season. He said today that he doesn’t make the depth chart, which is determined by the players. Carolina proved you can get to the national championship with a limited bench, but it’s almost to win one without one. Davis did mention that the game against Kansas was the first time he thought his team looked tired during the season.
Replacing Brady Manek:
How Carolina replaces Manek will likely determine if they are legit national title contenders or not. If they aren’t able to add anyone via the portal, that pressure likely falls on Dontrez Styles and Puff Johnson. Davis said today he doesn’t want those guys to be Brady Mane, but to continue their own development.
Injuries did play a part in why the rotation wasn’t very deep last season, but that shouldn’t be a problem entering this season. Puff Johnson is finally able to work out fully this summer, as opposed to working himself back from injury his first two seasons on campus. Armando Bacot’s ankle is 77% according to the star big man, but he hasn’t been limited in any capacity. As for incoming freshman Jalen Washington who is coming off a second ACL injury, he’s participating in everything except 5 on 5, but that is still an encouraging sign that he’ll be ready to go come November.
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