Updated: Mar 25
The last week and a half around Tar Heel basketball has been a story of major ups and downs. It started with the team exiting the ACC Tournament by way of a frustrating defeat at the hands of Virginia, only to pick up a second Quad 1 win after being eliminated. On Selction Sunday morning, though, Ohio State, which had made a run to the Big Ten semifinals before bowing out, dropped back out of the top 50 in the NET, ultimately leading to the Tar Heels missing the NCAA Tournament. Shortly after that news was officially revealed by the tournament committee, the team would take a vote and opt to forego the NIT Tournament in hopes of getting an early start on rebuilding.
Four scholarship players have since entered the transfer portal, all of which play either the stretch 4 or the 3 spot on the floor. While that has many panicking about the direction of next season, the return of Armando Bacot was a welcome one that gave the team back one of the most dominant big men in program history. This morning, they found out that he will have another veteran starter back for next season to try to help turn things back in the right direction.
Shortly before lunchtime, junior guard RJ Davis announced that he will be returning for his senior season with the Tar Heels in 2023-24. He was named an All-ACC honorable mention this year, as he finished second on the team in points per game (16.1) and minutes played (1153) and led the team in 3-point percentage (36.4%) and assists per game (3.2).
This was easily the most successful season of his career, as he posted career bests in points per game, rebounds per game, field goal percentage and free throw percentage. Those numbers likely could have been even better if he wouldn’t pick up the finger injury that he suffered against Syracuse and could have helped lead to the Tar Heels to the NCAA Tournament. For his career, Davis is averaging 12.9 point per game, 3.0 assists per game and shooting 41.4% overall and 35.5% from beyond the arc.
Davis’ return might be the most important one of the offseason. It gives the team a veteran in the backcourt and a guy that is seemingly following the same trajectory as most of the four year point guards in Chapel Hill. As he showed multiple times throughout the season, he is the guy that can create for himself with the ball in his hands, something Hubert Davis’s offenses need, and is more than capable of hitting the tough shots when needed. He’ll also bring leadership to a group of guards that could be very young behind him if Caleb Love is to depart. Expect to see Davis on a lot of first team All-ACC ballots in the preseason.
With Bacot and Davis already declaring they will be back for next season, the attention now fully turns to Love and his decision. The belief from many close to the program still seems to be that he will not be back with the team next season, but with how long he is taking, that might be set in stone just yet. If he does return, one can only imagine what the reaction would be from this Tar Heel fanbase, despite Love being such an integral part of the run to NCAA Tournament Final a little under a year ago.
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