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Thursday August 5th

Analysis: Transfers have become an integral part of UNC's men's basketball program

<p>UNC graduate guard Christian Keeling (55) drives the ball up the court against N.C. State in the Smith Center on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.&nbsp;</p>
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UNC graduate guard Christian Keeling (55) drives the ball up the court against N.C. State in the Smith Center on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. 

After the addition of Marquette transfer Dawson Garcia to the UNC men’s basketball team, it’s hard to ignore the question of what transfers might mean to the Tar Heels as they go forward under the leadership of new head coach Hubert Davis.

Ever since he stepped up to replace Roy Williams in April, Davis has been determined to bring in players, particularly shooters in the frontcourt. Garcia is no exception. The 6-foot-11 forward shot 35.7 percent from behind the arc and averaged 13.0 points per game last season.

In a game last season against the Tar Heels — in which Marquette pulled off the upset win — Garcia scored 24 of his team’s 83 points, proving himself to be a dominant force for the Golden Eagles even as a first-year.

Like rising junior forward Armando Bacot, Garcia withdrew from the NBA draft this summer to join the Tar Heels for the 2021-2022 season, where he looks to continue his success on the college level.

Garcia isn’t the only transfer joining the Tar Heels this fall. Davis has also acquired two more forwards in Brady Manek, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, and Justin McKoy, a rising junior from Virginia.

Manek entered his senior year as a Sooner with an impressive 1,188 career points. Last season, he increased that number to 1,459 with 271 points, rising to No. 14 on the all-time scoring list at Oklahoma while shooting .375 from behind the arc.

McKoy was mostly used in a reserve role for the Cavaliers last season, shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line. The latter skill will come in handy for North Carolina, who shot just 66.8 percent from the line as a team last season — second-worst in the ACC.

These transfers add some experience to a younger team, especially as UNC has lost Garrison Brooks, Walker Kessler and Walker Miller to other schools.

It's no fluke that UNC has so many players transferring in and out of the program this season. In April, the NCAA changed its rules so players would immediately become eligible to play for their new teams after transferring. Previously, players had to sit out a season after transferring, unless they were graduate students.

Transfers have played a significant role on the UNC men’s basketball team in recent years. Justin Pierce and Christian Keeling both became Tar Heels in 2019 as graduate transfers from William & Mary and Charleston Southern, respectively.

And it’s hard to forget Cam Johnson, who came to North Carolina in 2017 after graduating in three years at Pitt. The small forward led the team in scoring in the 2018-2019 season and was drafted 11th overall in the 2019 NBA draft.

UNC hasn’t had many basketball transfers compared to other similarly successful programs, but the players that have transferred in over the years have made a big impact. Even before Johnson, Tar Heel transfers left their marks on the program.

Wes Miller came to North Carolina as a point guard from James Madison in 2004, just in time to be part of the 2005 national championship team. The following season, he led the team in three-point percentage at 44.1 percent — seventh best in a season in Tar Heel history. Miller would go on to become the head coach of UNC-G in 2011. He was considered a serious candidate for the North Carolina job in April before being named the next head coach at Cincinnati.

The significance of transfers for the UNC men’s basketball program isn’t new. As Tar Heel fans eagerly await the start to Davis’ head coaching career, they should also focus on what new transfers may contribute to this year’s team.

@lindseyashe_

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com



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