The North Carolina men's basketball team has gotten off to a fast start with three double-digit wins to start the 2018-2019 campaign. Although it's a small sample size, here are five takeaways from the early look at the No. 7 Tar Heels.
Cameron Johnson lighting it up
There were glimpses of Johnson's potential for prolific scoring last season, including a 32-point performance in a Jan. 30 loss at Clemson. But early this season the graduate guard looks fully comfortable in his second year in head coach Roy Williams' offense, and his numbers back up that claim. In three games, Johnson is averaging a team-high 18.3 points per game, with two 17-point outbursts wrapped around a 21-point showing at Elon. More importantly, Johnson is hitting shots from behind the arc. He already has two games where he's hit at least three 3-pointers, something he only did six times last season in 26 games.
With senior guard Kenny Williams off to a tepid start, Johnson has more than carried his fair share of the load with a chance to pad his stats Friday against a winless Tennessee Tech squad.
Luke Maye continues consistent play
Yes, Luke Maye was an AP Preseason First-Team All-American pick, and yes, he was voted Preseason ACC Player of the Year. Yet despite the acclaim, the senior forward did not even generate the most buzz on his own team, with that distinction going to three first-years.
No matter to Maye. He has continued to do what he does best — that is, quietly produce. Through three games, he is second on the team in scoring (16.0 points per game) and first in rebounding (8.3), while also dishing out nine assists on the year. Often dealing with double teams, the forward has allowed defenders to sag on him before finding the open man, as he did repeatedly against Stanford on Nov. 12. Maye might not grab headlines the way his other teammates do, but he is already backing up the expectations put on him before the season started.
First-years as good as advertised
As noted above, the most buzz surrounding this year's team in the early stages of the season is the play of the first-years. Coby White has already cemented himself as the starting point guard, and Williams stated at ACC Media Day he believes White is the fastest floor general he's had since Ty Lawson. Although White has just nine assists to six turnovers, he is passing the eye test and looks the part of a Williams point guard. He's also one of five UNC players averaging double digits (10.3 points per game).
Leaky Black has already played all five positions defensively and is showing the versatility fans were hoping for to begin his Tar Heel career. After failing to score in his debut against Wofford, Black followed up with consecutive 8-point performances. He's shown ability as a solid ball handler, a strong rebounder and a good playmaker (tied for team-high with five assists against Elon).
It's a small sample size, but the first-years have more than backed up the hype heading into the year.
Depth, depth and more depth
One could make an argument that this year's UNC team is the deepest one Roy Williams has had in recent memory. North Carolina is on pace to have nine players averaging more than 10 minutes of playing time, surpassing last year's total of seven and tying the 2017 National Championship roster. As of now, guards Brandon Robinson and Andrew Platek are the 10th and 11th men coming off the bench — two talented players who've contributed during their time as Tar Heels.
Right now, Williams has a good problem — worrying how to manage all the talent at his disposal.