“Doesn’t understand hard work, doesn’t understand focus, doesn’t understand defense,” Williams said of Felton. “He thinks that’s that fence we’ve talked about before around your yard.
"But he's really gifted, and if I can get him to be more focused and tougher, I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player, and really help us. He’s got some skills that a lot of other people don’t have.”
The skills Felton does have are highly coveted, especially for a guard in UNC’s offense. In high school, he molded himself into a guy who could do a bit of everything: getting to the basket at ease, taking defenders one-on-one and dishing it out to his teammates, all while playing at a fast pace.
The 2017 Gatorade South Carolina Player of the Year, Felton averaged 26.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game at Gray Collegiate Academy in West Columbia, S.C. He was ranked the No. 28 player in the class of 2017 by ESPN.
“He’s a guy who thrives in the transition game,” said Paul Biancardi, ESPN’s national recruiting director. “He loves to go from defense to offense, and that’s what Carolina does as well as any team in the country. His ability can be either to bring it down the floor and push it, and throw it ahead as a facilitator, or a guy who can finish the break.”
Still, there is much for Felton to improve upon. As Williams explained, defense is still a work in progress for him, and his jump shot is arguably the weakest part of his game.
In UNC’s 91-80 exhibition win against Barton College on Oct. 27, Felton came off the bench and had seven assists and just one turnover in 21 minutes of action. But he shot just 2-6 from the field, and Williams said there wasn’t much separating his performance with Woods.
In that same exhibition, there was a moment where Theo Pinson said he had to let the first-year know that he needed to come to the ball when receiving an inbounds pass.
“Most of the time, he was just waiting at halfcourt trying to get the outlet pass,” Pinson said. “People are too big to do that, so you’ve got to run to the ball."
That's the type of thing Biancardi thinks Felton will have get used to.
“He’ll be thinking and playing at the same time, because he’ll be in a position where he’ll have to make a decision,” Biancardi said. “And that’s difficult at the collegiate level for all freshmen guards.”
If Berry returns as soon as possible, he might only miss UNC’s first two games of the year, home contests against Northern Iowa and Bucknell. As inconsequential as that may be, the Tar Heels should at least have a better understanding by then of how Felton’s gifts could help them this season.