It has been some time since we last heard from the head coach of Carolina Basketball, as Hubert Davis spent his summer recruiting, finalizing his staff, and adjusting to his new role as the leader of college basketball’s most prestigious program. With the start of practice roughly just a month away, and the start of the season not far after that, Davis held a virtual press conference that covered many topics around his program:
There’s a lot of talk and hype around the three transfers Davis is bringing into the program in Brady Manek, Justin McKoy, and Dawson Garcia, and rightfully so. Davis noted the reason they were so aggressive in recruiting those three players was to give the roster much needed depth in the frontcourt while meeting his vision for what he wants from those positions moving forward. Of course, it didn’t hurt that UNC already had prior established relationships with McKoy and Garica, back when they were recruited coming out of high school. Davis expressed his desire and expectations to use McKoy at both the small forward and power forward positions, as his defensive flexibility is going to do wonders for this team. Manek, who made the most three-pointers in Big 12 history by a player 6’7” or taller, is a natural floor spacer but will be used in ball, and off-ball situations. When talking about Garcia, he’s most excited for Tar Heel fans to see what he’s capable of doing on the defensive end of the court, as he brings a shot blocking element this team needs, while being a skilled and versatile scorer.
Davis and his staff are learning both D’Marco Dunn and Dontrez Stylez, as the covid limitations from last season really affected their arrival. For instance, Davis noted that the first time he ever saw Dunn play live was during the second session of summer school just a few weeks ago. As for Stylez, this is the first time since his junior year that Davis and Brad Frederick have seen him play in person. There are high expectations for these two guys, and even with a summer session, expect a similar learning curve as last season.
When Carolina announced their staff, there were a lot of questions about the group that Davis put together. While Sean May, Brad Frederick, Jeff Lebo, Jackie Manuel, and Pat Sullivan might turn out to be great assistants and help this program achieve, the names definitely aren’t as sexy as we grew accustomed to under Roy Williams. Nonetheless, Davis is confident he hired the right guys. Lebo brings experience having been a head coach at the Power 5 and Group of 5 levels. Brad Frederick’s responsibilities grew every year under Roy Williams, including last season when he was tasked with leading the JV team. After serving in the role now accompanied by Jackie Manuel, Sean May has been elevated to an on court position. All three will share scouting responsibilities for opponents while being a constant presence in recruiting. As for Manuel and Sullivan, their roles are more of the court keeping contact with former players, talking to connections in the NBA and overseas leagues.
This is going to be a big focus as Carolina’s development of talent wasn’t where it needed to be since the 2018-19 season. This summer, a big emphasis was becoming a better shooting team from the perimeter, as that is the name of the game across all levels of basketball in 2021. Also, Davis has driven home the importance of taking care of the basketball, as the Tar Heels were at the bottom of the category last season in the ACC. There’s reason to believe Carolina will be much improved in those categories as well as others, as a young roster is maturing by the day.
Expectations for Armando Bacot:
Bacot is the leader of this team, and that is expected of him both on the court, off the court, and in the classroom. With his desire to play in the NBA, Bacot has expanded his range to the three-point line, and UNC isn’t going to discourage him from taking shots from behind the arc. Davis is still going to use him as a post-up scorer, while also isolating him to take his defender off the dribble, making a more versatile, lethal scorer.
Puff, who suffered an injury in January of last season, and never returned is still rehabbing from that injury, with the expectation that he will be ready to go when practice starts in September. Davis is hoping that is the case, as he envisions playing Puff from anywhere from the 2-4 positions while trying to maximize his ability to shoot, rebound and defend.
Relationship With Mack Brown: Lastly, Davis shared some memories he has with the head coach of Tar Heel Football. When Mack was in Texas, Davis and his wife were frequent visitors to Austin to see the Longhorns play while Davis was a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Since becoming the head coach, he’s adopted Brown’s philosophy that practice time is best used for conditioning the team for competition, adding that running at the end of practice is to be used as a form of punishment.
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