At his press conference on June 15, when asked about the program’s opening for its 13th scholarship, UNC men’s basketball head coach Hubert Davis simply said his team is “always looking to improve.”
UNC’s newest addition to the 2022-2023 roster, graduate transfer Pete Nance, subscribes to a similar mentality.
After graduating from Northwestern, Nance completely dedicated himself to the NBA pre-draft process in the hopes of joining the league like his dad, three-time NBA All-Star Larry Nance Sr., and brother, current New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. When Nance failed to receive the call-up to the traditional combine, he pulled out of draft consideration to pursue his collegiate options in the NCAA transfer portal.
“I was ultimately looking for a place,” he said. “I obviously went through the NBA Draft process and was really focused on that and thought I had a good chance. But I was looking for a place where I could take my game to the next level and really showcase my full skillset.”
At UNC, the 6-foot-11, 230-pound power forward who led the Wildcats in scoring last year will likely take on a much more subdued role. Vying for the spotlight alongside the likes of Armando Bacot, Caleb Love, RJ Davis and Leaky Black may not be every NBA prospect’s first choice. But for Nance, joining UNC’s already loaded offensive arsenal will afford him the perfect opportunity to showcase what he considers one of his greatest assets — his versatility.
“I’m kind of somebody that can do a little bit of everything,” Nance said. “Shoot, pass, dribble, I kind of try to pride myself on being versatile.”
At a team media availability on July 18, Nance’s new teammates confirmed his self-administered scouting report. Alongside his passing ability, Bacot expressed excitement for Nance’s knowledge of the game. Both he and Love noted Nance’s fit into the team’s “freelance” offensive style.
“He can shoot, he can pass, and I feel like he’s gelled with us well,” Love said.
"It’s like he’s not forcing anything," Black echoed. "He’s letting it come to him. He has so many options because he’s so versatile. He can pick-and-pop, pick-and-roll, he’s definitely going to be a big-time lob threat. Definitely going to dunk on a lot of people this year. Man, I’m excited.”
In addition to his ability to stretch the floor thanks to his three-point shooting ability, Nance can improve North Carolina’s depth at center as a backup option for Bacot. At Northwestern, Nance led the team in three-point percentage this past season and led the Wildcats in rebounds in his last two seasons.
“He’s got good length and he’s athletic,” Bacot said. “I think when I get in foul trouble and I get subbed out, it won’t be that huge of a drop-off in the paint. He's got that ability to block shots and just give us a paint presence.”
While attending the NBA G League Elite Camp, before speaking to Davis or any other members of the North Carolina coaching staff, Nance’s conversation with recent graduate Brady Manek opened his eyes to what a commitment to UNC might bring.
“I asked him just, ‘How was it? What was your experience?’ And he said it was the best basketball experience of his life,” Nance said. “Which, only being here one year, I thought was something just really cool at the time.”
Nance said that after pulling out of NBA Draft consideration, things moved “pretty quickly,” especially after watching the role that Manek was able to play in UNC’s run to the national title game last season.
By plugging in a graduate transfer with size and shooting ability to play the "stretch four" position, UNC alleviated pressure for Bacot around the rim.
"Being able to talk to coach Davis and some of the coaches on the phone, I had really great conversations with them," Nance said. "I felt like I really fit in with what they were telling me and what they were talking to me about. I really only visited one place because I kind of knew where I wanted to go."
Encircled by a crowd of reporters in the Dean E. Smith Center on July 18, Nance took questions from the media for the first time ever as a Tar Heel. When asked why he was so confident that he’d fit into the team, Nance pointed back to his calling card.
“I think being a versatile player, whatever the coaches need me to do and whatever role they want me to fill, I think I’d be able to adapt to that easily just because of my style of play," Nance said. "How I move the ball and share the ball, my passing ability and floor spacing I think is just a really good fit.”