North Carolina basketball was already going to have to lean on a number of new faces on the wing this season.
Then, in an exhibition against Winston-Salem State on Friday, senior guard Brandon Robinson went down.
Robinson sprained his right ankle in the first half against the Rams while attempting to block a shot, and was on crutches after the game. Though UNC announced that x-rays came back negative for a fracture, no timetable was given for his return.
His absence will present even more opportunities for a couple of newcomers – graduate transfers Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce – plus Andrew Platek.
The junior guard from Guilderland, New York averaged 1.1 points per game in 3.6 minutes for UNC last season, but figures to be a more prominent part of the Tar Heels' backcourt rotation this year.
With the departures of Coby White, Kenny Williams and Cameron Johnson, Platek provides much-needed three-point shooting and can space the floor for first-year point guard Cole Anthony and others. He's a career 35.7 percent shooter from long range on 42 attempts, and should also look to be more aggressive attacking the basket and creating plays for teammates.
Then there's Keeling and Pierce, two more sharpshooters who could very well be the keys to a successful season for UNC.
Keeling, a 6-foot-3 guard from Augusta, Georgia, joins the Tar Heels after three seasons at Charleston Southern, where he averaged 18.7 points as a junior on 38 percent from three-point range. He's a proven scorer at the mid-major level who can fill it up in all three phrases of the game; the only question is if he can do the same against ACC-level talent.
He also averaged 6.9 rebounds per game last year, impressive for a player his size — though head coach Roy Williams said those rebounds won't come as easily for Keeling against superior athletes. Keeling, for his part, says he learned at CSU what it takes to compete on the glass.