Then, on April 23, the Tar Heel backcourt got a major boost when 5-star guard Cole Anthony, one of the crown jewels of his senior class, and 4-star guard Anthony Harris both committed to Carolina.
For some, that might have been enough. But with scholarships left to offer, UNC remained active in the transfer market, landing graduate guard Christian Keeling from Charleston Southern and graduate forward Justin Pierce from William & Mary to fill out the roster. The two players both have one year of eligibility remaining, and will look to immediately contribute to a UNC team that won a share of the ACC regular season title last season.
All told, North Carolina landed four new players in the span of just 10 days, additions that changed the Tar Heels' outlook next season from NCAA tournament hopeful to possible title contender.
The most important of the recent commits was likely Anthony, the No. 4 player in his class according to 247Sports and the son of NBA veteran Greg Anthony. The Mouth of Wilson, Virginia product has been called "one of the most complete point guards I have ever recruited" by his new head coach, showcasing exceptional athleticism and a solid shooting stroke. He also won MVP honors at both the McDonald’s All-America Game and the Jordan Brand Classic, two of the biggest showcase games in high school basketball.
Harris, a 4-star guard who was originally committed to Virginia Tech, missed much of his senior season after tearing his ACL. He is the No. 65 recruit in 247Sports' composite rankings and the No. 8 combo guard in his senior class.
Also crucial next season will be Bacot, who will anchor the Tar Heel frontcourt alongside rising junior forward Garrison Brooks. Bacot is one of the nation’s top centers, ranked as the 26th best player in his class by 247Sports and the fifth-best at his position. He has a long wingspan and nice touch around the rim, projecting as a productive, offensive-minded big man.
The addition of 6-foot-4 Keeling will help shore up some concerns on the wing for North Carolina. Keeling is a potent threat from 3-point range, shooting 38 percent from deep last year, and he averaged 18.7 points and 6.9 rebounds as a junior at Charleston Southern.
Finally, the 6-foot-7 Pierce is a do-it-all big man who will bring a versatility to the Tar Heel front line that would have been missing next season. At William & Mary, Pierce shot 32.4 percent from beyond the arc last season and 41.6 percent the year prior, and could fill the role formerly filled by Luke Maye, a player who also tended to stretch the defense from the frontcourt.
That group will join a core of returning UNC players that includes rising senior Brandon Robinson, rising juniors Andrew Platek and Sterling Manley, and rising sophomore Leaky Black. Robinson received steady minutes off the bench last season as one of North Carolina's most potent 3-point threats, while Manley and Black were regular contributors before each suffering injuries that limited their late-season opportunities.
To be sure, the bulk of Roy Williams' rotation will feature a lot of new faces. But there's no reason why next season's team, led by veterans like Robinson and bolstered by the talent of Anthony and others, can't reach the heights of last year's squad – or, as fans hope, go even higher.
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