The North Carolina junior varsity basketball team isn’t serving NCAA sanctions. None of its players took money for autographs, had a relationship with an agent or took paper classes. Yet, when the season comes to an end in late February, there will be no postseason for the Tar Heels. Not because they did anything wrong, just because that’s the way it is when you’re a JV basketball player at UNC. Four months, 12 games and you’re done.
But for the JV players, something much more valuable than any tournament championship is on the line — a coveted spot on Coach Roy Williams’ squad.
With only four seniors on the current varsity roster and one signed recruit coming in, spots are limited. With a number of highly touted recruits still on the Tar Heels’ 2015 radar, there’s a strong chance only one walk-on spot will be available, if any, next season.
So which JV players might we expect to be the next member of Blue Steel? Patrick Ronan, a senior from Winston Salem, gives his top three:
A junior guard from Wake Forest, Hutter is part of a long list of Ravenscroft School alum who are playing at the collegiate level. One of those players is senior UNC guard Luke Davis. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Hutter definitely has varsity guard size, and with Williams having a good experience with Ravenscroft in the past, Hutter might be next.
At first glance, Egbuna might be the first player one would expect to see run out of the tunnel in front of 21,750 fans. The junior forward from Clemmons stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs in at a sculpted 220 pounds. While in high school at West Forsyth, Egbuna played the post and was known for his toughness and ability to battle, something Williams might see as a useful practice tool.
If there is only one spot open on next season's team, Dalton seems to be the clear front-runner. The 6-foot-3 guard from Asheville is a jack-of-all-trades for Hubert Davis’ JV team. In Saturday’s game against high-profiled Wesleyan Christian Academy, Dalton rebounded on both sides of the glass, lead the fast break, knocked down a handful of 3-pointers and played center on defense. Dalton was the key to the Tar Heels' second-half comeback against the Trojans — who the Tar Heels eventually fell to 92-74 — and didn’t seem the least bit intimidated defending 6-foot-10 center Harry Giles, one of the top recruits in the 2016 class. Simply put, Dalton’s just a gamer. If he practices half as hard as he plays, Williams wouldn’t be disappointed to give Dalton a shot on the big stage.
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