As expected after missing the 2023 NCAA Tournament, and opting not to participate in the NIT, Carolina’s roster is starting to turnover, as two players entered the transfer portal earlier this evening, as senior forward Justin Mckoy, and freshman forward Tyler Nickel are both leaving Chapel Hill.
McKoy, who transferred to Carolina from Virginia, shortly after Hubert Davis was hired, never found a steady role in his two seasons with the program, despite believing he could be a solid individual and team defender. McKoy played in 41 games over the last two seasons, averaging 1.2 points, and 1.3 rebounds, while only playing just over six minutes per contest. During the off-season after losing in the national championship game, Hubert Davis made it known that the program needed more depth, and there was hope and belief, that McKoy could be a part of just that. But his inability to change the game on the offensive end, really hindered him from getting consistent minutes, as he shot less than 30% both from the field and from behind the three-point line.
Of all the reserves that have already decided to transfer, or will consider transferring, Tyler Nickel probably wasn’t a guy you thought of leaving Carolina, but here we are. Nickel committed to UNC shortly before the start of last season, and was seen as an ideal perimeter player in Hubert Davis’s program. Nickel exploded for 16 points against The Citadel back in December, and showed flashes of the type of player he was going to be at UNC, but with his minutes being inconsistent the rest of the way, he’s decided to move on. Nickel averaged 2.1 points, on 38% from the field, and 22% from behind the three-point line during his short-lived time as a Tar Heel.
Losing McKoy isn’t a big loss seeing as he had a hard time seeing the court this season anyways, but losing Nickel appears right now as a significant loss. With all signs pointing towards Caleb Love leaving the program, Nickel would’ve entered the 2023-24 season, as arguably the second-best shooter on a roster that needs more consistent perimeter shooting. You would imagine he would’ve had the summer to grow as a player, and have a much larger role either as a starter, or coming off the bench. Now we’ll never know.
These two transfers are evidence as to why Carolina made the right decision to not compete in the NIT because there were guys that were ready for the season to be over, and McKoy and Nickel most likely won’t be the last two players to transfer this spring. So while losing two players the first day of the off-season does hurt, it does allow Carolina the opportunity to start recruiting the transfer portal, to find guys to upgrade the roster, something they wouldn’t have been able to do, had they chosen to play in the NIT.
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