“Cole can score,” Williams said at UNC’s media day. “But Cole is more of a quarterback back there, just trying to get other people the ball.”
Anthony is UNC's second-highest rated recruit of all time and is expected to be the star of the team. But which ball handlers will UNC look to when he needs rest, or if he gets injured?
The top candidate is sophomore guard/forward/Swiss Army knife Leaky Black. He can play multiple positions for the Tar Heels, and he showed flashes of court vision and defensive prowess in his appearances last season before going down with an ankle injury, missing 13 games.
Black could be the one Williams turns to as the primary ball handler when Anthony isn’t on the court.
“For us to be a really good basketball team, Leaky’s gotta stay healthy and play,” Williams said after UNC’s exhibition against Winston-Salem State.
Black will be an important piece of UNC's backcourt puzzle. He's a versatile player who can run the offense, defend multiple positions and knock down the occasional long jumper. After him, though, it’s pretty slim pickings from a ball handler standpoint.
Despite being unproven, redshirt junior guard K.J. Smith was just put on scholarship and could see real time early in the season as UNC waits for first-years Anthony Harris and Jeremiah Francis to return from injury. Williams could also go with veteran guard Brandon Robinson or graduate Christian Keeling, but both are unknowns at the point guard position.
Robinson is out for the foreseeable future with an ankle sprain. Keeling, though, is unknown to the North Carolina fanbase but could be an important asset for the Tar Heels.
“Once you’re playing, it’s still basketball no matter what level you’re at,” Keeling said. “So you still gotta play basketball, and that’s what I’m here to do, is play basketball.”
Lastly, there's junior Andrew Platek, a backup wing who could get an opportunity at the point if all else fails.
“I’m going to (play) as much as I deserve to, and that’s what coach told me. That’s what he tells everybody," Platek said. "You’ve gotta have value for the team and I add that in shooting and defending and decision-making.”
Most of the guards on UNC's bench don't have experience as a primary ball handler. That means UNC might have to rely heavily on Anthony, its five-star point guard, for what will likely be his only season in Chapel Hill.
He played 28 minutes in the team’s exhibition game, the most of any player for the Tar Heels. Expect him to continue seeing a ton of time throughout the regular season, which begins Wednesday against Notre Dame.
It all comes back to Cole Anthony. The most important question will be whether he can live up to the hype and do something great, helping the Tar Heels repeat as regular season ACC co-champions.
After all, that's why Williams brought him to UNC.
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