Had Roy Williams not retired shortly after the 2020-21 season came to a close, UNC was still going to be active in the transfer portal to add talent to their roster. Once Williams retired and Hubert Davis was hired, it became even more paramount that UNC use that to their advantage, especially after losing four post players to the portal themselves, and two more to the NBA Draft. Davis realized that, and despite not having finalized his staff, went out and landed Brady Manek from Oklahoma, and Justin McKoy from Virginia to fill out the roster for the next season.
UNC is going to play a lot differently under their new head coach while maintaining the core values of the program (Play Hard, Play Smart, Play Together), as floor spacing, and perimeter shooting are going to be more of a focus in the program than prior before. Hubert Davis knew that which is why he zeroed in on Manek, a four-year player with the Sooners, and McKoy, a player previously recruited by UNC. The main difference from these transfers compared to Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce from back in 2019-20, is that both of these guys come from Power 5 programs, so the step up in competition shouldn’t be as drastic as moving up from the CAA you'd imagine. Also, the belief around college athletics and the world is that we’re coming out of the global pandemic, and everything is returning to normal, Manek and McKoy should have a normal summer full of workouts, and summer games with former UNC players that are invaluable. Here is what we can expect from the two newest Tar Heels next season:
It’s unfair to call it pressure, but UNC is expecting more out of Manek than McKoy, and rightfully so. Manek played four seasons in the Big 12 with Oklahoma, having started 122 career games in arguably the nation’s deepest conference the last few seasons. He also averaged 12.0 points, 5,6 rebounds, all while shooting 45% from the floor, and 38% from behind the arc. While UNC would love for his field goal percentage to be right at 50%, he’s a proven scorer, and you can never have enough of those. If you go back to Trae Young's lone season in Norman, it was Brady Manek that really opened the floor for him to achieve all the things he did as a freshman in college basketball this season. That’s what Hubert Davis is expecting Manek to do for Caleb Love and R.J. Davis next season. Both guards showed promise at various times last season, but with a quartet of post players it took away the lane for both of those guys to attack. Now Manek is going to have to rebound the basketball at a higher clip, as UNC is losing production from Day’Ron Sharpe, Garrison Brooks, and Walker Kessler in that department. As much as Davis wants to play smaller if Carolina can’t rebound they won’t compete at the desired level this program demands. It’s unclear at this point if Manek will be a starter or not, (my hunch is yes), but if he can do the things he did at Oklahoma, in Carolina Blue, it’s going to be hard to keep him off the court for his lone season in Chapel Hill.
McKoy’s transfer didn’t garner the same excitement as Manek’s, but McKoy figures to be a big part of the transformation change at North Carolina. McKoy initially committed to Penn State over UNC, before ultimately winding up in Charlottesville with the Virginia Cavaliers. McKoy didn’t see a lot of playing time under Tony Bennett, but time spent in one of the nation’s best programs can’t be understated. At 6-8, McKoy is what Hubert Davis wants in his program. McKoy’s ability to shoot the three-point at his size will help spread the floor for the guards to get downhill and attack the rim. His length should help this team defensively on the perimeter as well, as Carolina figures to be more committed on that end of the floor. For him entering his first of potentially three seasons with the Tar Heels, McKoy needs to focus on getting his body ready for the rigors of ACC Basketball, while being able to contribute if called upon. With the lack of depth in the frontcourt as of right now, McKoy may be asked to play a significant role next season, but he’s best suited to contribute in 2022-23.
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