In the summer leading up to the 2019-20 season, Leaky Black was wildly considered as the guy that was going to take the next step as a basketball player. After a freshman season marred by injury, once healthy his skill set and talent made it seem that taking that next step, easy. Not many players in the country, let alone the ACC has a player that can do all the little things to help your team. Carolina had that in Theo Pinson, and Leaky Black was to follow in his footsteps. But as we learned during the course of the season, things don’t always go the way we thought they were.
In that exciting season opening win over Notre Dame, Leaky’s skill set was at its finest. The sophomore scored 5 points, grabbed 7 boards, and handed out 5 assists. He looked like the player we thought would help the team succeed in the ACC and nationally. He followed that up with 8 points and 7 rebounds in a road win over UNC-W, once again displaying the ability to impact the game in various ways. In the next 2 games he’d total 9 points and 9 rebounds combined. In the Battle 4 Atlantis, Black totaled 11 points over the 3 games,while grabbing 10 rebounds. He suffered an injury early in the game against Oregon, and didn’t return. After a strong start to the season, Black was having a problem producing consistently. His November month averages were 4.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 2.2 apg.
The month of December got off to the wrong foot, with a blowout loss to Ohio State, followed by a hard fought loss to UVA. In the two games combined, Leaky scored 11 points, and grabbed 7 rebounds. With Carolina in desperate need of offense in any capacity, Black wasn’t contributing in a major way. He would miss the upset loss to Wofford, as the injury bug finally caught up to him. He’d come back to score 6 points in the loss to Gonzaga, before scoring 4 points in a win over UCLA to snap a 4 game losing streak. In the non-conference finale he scored 5 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, as the season appeared to be heading in the right direction.
With 3 straight games in Chapel Hill to start the 2020 portion of the ACC season, it was a recipe to build momentum as the conference season toughened up. That didn’t happen as they lost all three games, as they were struggling to adjust to the absence of Cole Anthony. In those 3 losses, Black averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds per game, producing but not to the level the team needed him to. Following a road loss at Pittsburgh, Black got into double figures for the first time at Virginia Tech. A few days later he played a big role in the win at NC State, scoring 11 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. Once again consistency was the issue for Black, as the team was heading into an all important February.
For as bad as January got off to, February was even worse. The seven straight losses tied for the second longest in program history.He scored 10 points in a loss at Florida State, making it the third time in the last 5 contests, he reached double figures scoring. Against Duke he scored 8 points, and grabbed 9 rebounds, not allowing the moment or pressure to affect his play. At Notre Dame, Leaky contributed with 9 points and 10 rebounds, before a last second three broke their hearts once more. In the final two games of the month, Black scored 8 points in both which resulted in wins over NC State and Syracuse.
March was going to determine the fate of the team, as they’d have to win the ACC Tournament to participate in March Madness. Black would score 9 points, in the Senior Night win over Wake Forest, before scoring 5 in the season finale loss at Duke. In the all important ACC Tournament, Black scored 5 points in a win over Virginia Tech, before scoring a season high 14 in the season ending loss to Syracuse.
Black displayed at times the player we think he’s capable of being. In addition to becoming more consistent, one area he needs to improve is getting to the foul line. Only shooting 46 foul shots in 32 games isn’t good enough. Like a lot of the guys returning, this past season has given all the players extra motivation to get the program back to where it’s supposed to be. Hopefully an improved Black, will be a part of that success.