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Heel Tough Blog: Tar Heels Lose Former Starter and Role Player to Portal

Bob Donnan- USA Today Sports

Earlier this morning, news broke that the Tar Heels have lost a former starter and another major contributor to the transfer portal.

Sophomore forward Dawson Garcia announced by way of his social media that he was entering the transfer portal after just one season in Chapel Hill. Garcia played in sixteen games this past season, including twelve starts for the team prior to sustaining a concussion against Boston College. He returned after a two game hiatus and played in three games before stepping away from the team to be with his family in Illinois due to a family illness. Garcia finishes his Tar Heel career averaging 9.0 points per game and 5.5 rebounds career.

Garcia’s departure isn’t really surprising. First of all, it’s not really that shocking that Garcia wants to be closer home after everything that has happened personally this year and every Tar Heel fan should understand the move from this standpoint. The other reason this is not shocking dates back to the press conference after the Marquette game when the team was asked a question about Garcia reaching out to congratulate them following the win. Their response, which you can see below, kind of told you what direction things were going.

When it comes to the replacement of Garcia, the Tar Heels are in a good spot overall. Puff Johnson played a good amount of ‘4’ in his time on the floor down the stretch of the season and should have a major role and possibly even a starting role as a stretch 4 next year. Will Shaver, who reclassified and was a part of the team this year, could also be a factor in the front court having been in the system for a full season already, giving him an advantage over other freshmen that will be coming in. Speaking of freshmen, Jalen Washington is a bit of a wild card because of the uncertainty about how his rehab from a knee injury that cost him his senior season of high school is going.

Later in the afternoon, Verbal Commits, a database that compiles the names of players that are in the portal, reported that sophomore guard Anthony Harris was entering his name, as well. Harris was an important part of the Tar Heel rotation through the first fourteen games of this season, averaging 2.6 points per game and posting one of the best defensive efficiency numbers for a team that was struggling defensively early in the season. Following the January 8th game against Virginia, Harris was out of the lineup for unspecified reasons before it was later revealed that he was deemed academically ineligible and would miss the remainder of the season. Harris finished his Tar Heel career averaging 3.5 points per game, 0.7 rebounds per game and 0.9 assists per game.

Harris departure is, just like Garcia’s departure, a blow to the depth, but is something that won’t be foreign for the team to navigate. This departure likely means that freshman phenom Seth Trimble will have a chance to make a major contribution early on. The door will also be open for Kerwin Walton and D’Marco Dunn to earn more playing time if they stay around and relieve some of the pressure that Caleb Love and R.J. Davis had in terms of the minutes they had to play this season.

The fact of the matter is, neither one of these transfers should really be a major surprise to anyone who follows Tar Heel basketball. The team now has a scholarship open to pursue someone in the transfer portal, which could be used to bolster one of the spots, and with the influx of freshmen that are coming in, there is no reason to be overly concerned with this news from today.

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