Heel Tough Blog: Impact of Anthony Harris' Return

We all remember where we were a little over a season ago, when Anthony Harris collapsed attacking the basket in a non-conference game against Yale. While we all hoped and prayed for a different result, we all knew what the outcome was going to be, another torn ACL for a guy that was coming off a previous ACL injury. While we’ll never know how Carolina’s season would’ve turned out had Harris stayed healthy, but we did learn that Harris was going to have an impact moving forward.


In a normal off-season, Harris would’ve been able to attract his rehab more aggressively than what he was able to do over the summer. With the departure of Cole Anthony to the NBA, and the unexpected transfer of Jeremiah Francis, Carolina was left with a void of experience at the most important position on the floor. In a loaded recruiting class, Roy Williams brought in highly sought after guards in Caleb Love and R.J. Davis. But with Francis no longer with the program, and Harris recovering from an ACL injury, it meant that the Tar Heels were on their fourth point guard in as many years.



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In an interview over the summer, Roy Williams hinted at the possibility that Harris might’ve been ready to go when the season tipped off. That didn’t happen despite the season being delayed by 2 weeks due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The struggles that Love and Davis experienced were expected, but they were heightened with the absence of a guard that has experience in the system. So when Carolina started ACC play 0-2, many were wondering if and when Harris would return from injury. Everyone that knows Roy Williams, knows that he’s cautious with his players returning from any injury, let alone an ACL tear. With that in mind, Williams’ and everyone around the program knew that the return of Harris would help this team get back on track, and become a formidable team in a mediocre conference.


Finally after much waiting and anticipation, Harris returned to the floor in a eventual road loss at Florida State, but his impact was immediately felt. His energy was contagious, and he scored 5 points, handed out 3 assists, while drawing multiple chargers. Harris was the player that made fans fall in love with last year, and it looked like Carolina’s backcourt had life. Harris hasn’t seen extended minutes yet since returning from injury, as the most court time he’s seen is 11 minutes against NC State. In those 11 minutes, Harris scored 10 points, while 4-5 from the field. His presence on the floor has taken the pressure of Love and Davis, and allows them to just play, and not think as much. Even though he’s only played in 9 career games, Harris knows how to play fast, but under control. He has a good understanding of how his Coach wants him to play, and he executes whenever on the floor. A lot like his energy, his basketball IQ is contagious, and you can credit him for the growth of Caleb Love and R.J. Davis.



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It’s unknown just how much Harris will play the rest of the season, as he’s still working himself back into playing shape. What is for certain is that he’s going to be a part of this team’s success this year, and for years to come. After watching him suffer another ACL injury last season, you can’t help but feel good for a kid that only wants to help his team win as many basketball games as he can while on campus.


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