Courtney Banghart has made an immediate impact entering just her second year as head coach of the UNC women's basketball team. She has brought life into a struggling program by successfully recruiting some of the top talents in the country.
Banghart had a strong first recruiting class, bringing in Class of 2020 five-stars Deja Kelly and Anya Poole, who are each expected to be a part of the team’s rotation going into this season, if it is played.
The coach followed that up with a 2021 recruiting class that's one of the best in school history. It features five-star recruits Teonni Key, Destiny Adams, Morasha Wiggins and Kayla McPherson, who committed just last week on Aug. 16. All four players are in the top-50 of their class, according to ESPN's recruiting rankings.
Adams, Key and Wiggins are all outstanding two-ways players, but McPherson is the centerpiece that really brings the class together.
She displays a fantastic basketball IQ, which could help her develop into a leader on the court. She is a gifted scorer but also knows how to find an open teammate in traffic.
Her skill set meshes well with the other prospects in the class. Adams is a great three-point shooter, and Key can score from the mid-range — they will help spread the floor so McPherson can find them for an open shot when driving into the paint.
Wiggins will also benefit from McPherson’s presence. Her versatility will give her opportunities to score from all over the court. Wiggins is also a good enough passer to take over some of the play-making and dish to Adams and Key on the wings.
McPherson is the second top-15 women’s basketball recruit to come to UNC in the past year, with Kelly committing last November. It's clear the players are buying into Banghart’s system after recent down years for the program.
North Carolina finished under .500 for three straight years from 2016-2018. The team finally had a winning record in the 2018-19 season, but faced a scandal involving their Hall of Fame head coach Sylvia Hatchell that forced her to resign.
Banghart stepped into a tough position last year and had an up and down campaign. The team’s 16-14 record and 8-game losing streak to end the season does not look good on paper — but Banghart took over a team with little depth and a weaker recruiting class. She still led them to several quality wins including giving a top-10 N.C. State team its first loss of the season.
Injuries became an issue for the Tar Heels and they did not have a deep enough rotation to regain momentum as they started to lose games later in the season.
Depth shouldn't be a problem for Banghart’s teams going forward. The 2020 recruiting class is joining a team with plenty of strong returning players, headlined by All-ACC center Janelle Bailey. They will be able to fill in the holes left by departing players Taylor Koenen, Leah Church and Madinah Muhammad.
The 2021 class will turn the bench into a strengthening point for the team. The roster will not only be loaded with top-level talent, it will have a terrific second unit that could potentially push the team to its first NCAA Tournament appearance during Banghart's tenure.
North Carolina will go from a total of two five-star players in its rotation last year to possibly seven in only two seasons. It has been an impressive start to the Banghart era in Chapel Hill.
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