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Heel Tough Blog: Should Elliot Cadeau Start Right Away?

Earlier this week, Carolina got some big news for the 2023-24 season, as 2024 five-star commit, Elliot Cadeau officially reclassified and will join the team for the upcoming season. That decision has been on the table for the last couple of months, and Hubert Davis had been keeping a roster spot open for him if he decided to do just that.

Cadeau’s decision to reclassify changes Carolina drastically overnight, as Cadeau will be the best passer on the roster once he arrives later this month. His ability to push the basketball in transition should mean that Hubert Davis will reinstall the secondary break, something he had to scratch the last couple of seasons, given the inability to run that style of offense correctly.

After Cadeau announced his decision to reclassify, many national college basketball writers projected that Cadeau would start right away, over guys like Notre Dame transfer Cormac Ryan, or rising sophomore, Seth Trimble, but is that the right decision? Carolina hasn’t been shy about starting freshmen point guards, as Ty Lawson, Marcus Paige, Coby White, Cole Anthony, and even Caleb Love and R.J. Davis all started right away. With that though, each one endured growing pains, running the Carolina offense, is no easy task, no matter how gifted you are. A name you don’t see listed as starting right away is Kendall Marshall, who sat behind Larry Drew II, for the first month and a half of the season, before starting the last two months of the year, which ignited a run to the ACC regular season championship.

Marshall is the best example to look at and say that there is potential benefit in Cadeau coming off the bench. But why would Carolina allow Cadeau to reclassify, just for him to come off the bench? For one if Cadeau is coming off the bench, Carolina’s second unit would be deeper than it has been the last couple of seasons. Pairing him with Seth Trimble would also be a lot of fun, as they both excel at different things, on different ends of the floor. Having a guy like Cadeau come off the bench, and provide instant offense, would be a change in recent years, as Carolina has failed to produce many points from its reserves under Hubert Davis.

The biggest reason why it might be better for Cadeau to sit right away as opposed to starting has nothing to do with age, talent, or experience. It has to do with chemistry. If you go back to shortly after the season came to an end, Brendan Marks, who covers the team for The Athletic, took us inside a season that went sideways, and it brought to light, the disconnect in the backcourt, after R.J. Davis was left off a preseason watch list, for the top point guards in the country. Love was named to that list, meanwhile, Davis found himself on the watch list for the shooting guards, and as silly as it may sound, Davis took offense to that, and even asked to have his name removed from the awards list. If Cadeau were to start, he would be the primary ball handler, Davis would once again find himself playing off the ball, and chemistry concerns would once again come into question.

This is a really important season for Hubert Davis’s future as the head coach of Carolina Basketball, as the last coach to miss the NCAA Tournament back-to-back seasons, wasn’t asked back for a fourth season. Cadeau is more than good enough to start, but Davis has to weigh if that is best for his team, as his tenure likely hangs in the balance.

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