A team slowly changing its ways, the North Carolina men's basketball team enters the 2020-2021 season with its fourth different starting point guard in the last four seasons.
After Joel Berry II graduated in 2018, UNC has seen first-year phenoms Coby White and Cole Anthony fill the position in the seasons following. Now, Caleb Love, another five-star UNC commit, is most likely to run the offense in the upcoming season.
In the last few seasons, UNC has deviated from the typical style head coach Roy Williams has employed.
Under Williams, point guards typically start for multiple seasons before leaving the program. Guards under his coaching tree who started for multiple years include Raymond Felton, Ty Lawson, Kendall Marshall, Marcus Paige and Berry II.
The aforementioned players also typically had the same core players around them when taking over the position. This difference was apparent last season, as Anthony entered his lone campaign with the Tar Heels after the team lost White, Nassir Little, Cam Johnson and Luke Maye, among other players.
Love will be put in a similar situation, with UNC losing Brandon Robinson, Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce. What Love has going in his favor will be the return of senior forward Garrison Brooks — the team's leading total point scorer last year — as well as the arrival of five-star bigs Day’ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler.
While the point guard position has been fluid in recent years, having players take the court for just one season before losing them to the NBA is not common for Williams. Since he took over in 2003, only six players have left the program to enter the NBA draft after just one season.
Before Tony Bradley's departure following the 2017 National Championship, only Marvin Williams and Brandan Wright had made the same one-and-done call.
In that time, teams like Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Arizona had several recruits enter their programs knowing that they'd only be on campus for a year.
Though late to the party, North Carolina is beginning to mirror other major college basketball teams in the way it constructs its roster.
Coaching methods may be similar to what UNC has done in the past — with the fast-paced offense and and secondary break common in the Williams era — but what could be changing is the amount of time players will stay in the program.
In the three national titles Williams has won — as well as seasons that UNC has only fallen a few games short of the title — the best players have mostly been juniors and seniors.
It seems that UNC is taking a new approach with its team, though it has found much success under Williams going against the grain.
It is not a foregone conclusion that any of UNC’s five-star recruits will leave after the season, though there is certainly a trend worth noticing.
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