Updated: May 5, 2021
It’s been a whirlwind of a first month as the new head coach of Carolina Basketball for Hubert Davis, as he’s juggled recruiting, finalizing staff, and media obligations that come with coaching the Tar Heels. This week alone he’s been a guest on two major podcasts, and revealed some important information about the Tar Heels heading into next season. First with Jon Rothstein, Davis made it known that Armando Bacot will be returning to the program for his junior season in 2021-22. Bacot declared for the NBA Draft while retaining his college eligibility, and while he still plans to work out for NBA teams, he’s made it known he’ll be back in Chapel Hill next season.
Secondly, with Andy Katz, Davis disclosed some of Carolina’s non-conference schedule for next season. Of course this past season, every team played only a handful of non-conference games, as the ongoing pandemic delayed the season. UNC participated in the Maui Invitational, even though it wasn’t the Maui we’ve grown accustomed to as the pandemic relocated the event to the mountains of North Carolina. Next season, Carolina is going back to the Mohegan Sun to compete in a four team event, that includes Villanova, Tennessee, and Butler. The last time Carolina made the trip to Uncasville, they beat Richmond, before upsetting the Louisville Cardinals back in 2014. Carolina has history with all three of those teams, as they’ve played a home and home with the Volunteers, have seen Butler in Maui and the NCAA Tournament, and of course the 2016 national championship game against Villanova. Hubert Davis has vowed to play as tough a non-conference schedule as possible, like the program did under Roy Williams, and that will be a great test for the Tar Heels early in the season.
Not only will the Tar Heels play in a premier non-conference tournament, they’ll also be taking on UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic. UCLA is coming off a magical run to the Final Four as an 11 seed, and many people believe they will be a preseason top 5 team, and a trendy pick to win the national championship. UNC isn’t a stranger to the west coast power, having beaten the Bruins every time in the CBS Sports Classic. This will be a great measuring stick to see where the team is at under Hubert Davis, as he’ll be preparing his team for the ACC gauntlet.
Lastly, while it’s not likely to happen next season, Davis also expressed his desire for the Tar Heels to play in Madison Square Garden every year. That was something that became common under legendary coach Dean Smith, and was later followed by Coach K and Duke. The Garden is often referred to as the ‘Mecca” of basketball, and there’s no bigger stage than New York City. Davis believes it would be good exposure for his program in terms of recruiting, while giving his players an opportunity to play in basketball’s most storied venues.
UNC has yet to announce their entire non-conference schedule, but this leads one to believe that they will once again be playing one of the toughest schedules in all of college basketball once again next season.
Four Corners Podcast: