In preparation for the ensuing season, the North Carolina men’s basketball team participated in a Blue-White scrimmage on Saturday afternoon.
The event was hosted by G3 Marketing, and the contest was held in conjunction with the team’s NIL organizers. With the University unaffiliated with the closed scrimmage, players wore event-themed jerseys and were coached by a myriad of former UNC basketball players.
The two teams competed in an untimed contest to 80 points, and the two squads featured a mixture of Tar Heel veterans and budding new faces.
Here are three takeaways from the Blue team’s 80-71 win in the intrasquad friendly.
First-years showing promise
Last year, the “Iron Five” starting lineup represented a squad with a limited bench manned by head coach Hubert Davis. Now coaching in his second season, Davis has made it clear that last year’s thin rotation is something he hopes to expand upon.
One of North Carolina’s top options off the bench this season may be first-year guard Seth Trimble. The four-star prospect finished with 21 points, displaying his athleticism on both ends of the floor.
Trimble's versatility should help him play alongside junior guards RJ Davis and Caleb Love. His two blocks — one of which came against senior center Armando Bacot— showed his tenacity and quick reflexes on the defensive end.
First-year forward Tyler Nickel showed his elite scoring ability for the Blue team. The Virginia High School League all-time leading scorer finished with 11 points, all of which came in the second half.
Though Nickel may be a year away from breaking into the Tar Heels’ rotation, Trimble’s transition to the college game has looked seamless up to this point, and he could serve as a consistent option off the bench.
Guard play impresses
Following a run to the national championship game in April, the Tar Heels' guards picked up right where they left off on Saturday.
Davis and Love both return after stellar sophomore campaigns, and the two led their respective teams in scoring. Davis led all scorers with 24 points while Love chipped in 22, including a trio of three-pointers in the second half.
Though both filled up the scorer’s sheet, the two flashed their well-rounded offense games.
Davis displayed his craftiness and speed to get to his spots at an efficient rate. On one play, the six-foot guard took graduate forward Pete Nance — who stands nearly a foot taller than the White Plains, N.Y. native — to the basket, where Davis swiveled his way to finish a floater.
Much like he showed throughout the team's tournament run, Love again showed that he can heat up in a hurry. Late in the second half, the former McDonald’s All-American drilled threes on two consecutive possessions — the latter of which came from the heart of the “Roy Williams Court” lettering nearly 30 feet from the basket.
Alongside Trimble, North Carolina’s guard room is loaded with talent with all three players bringing different, yet complementary, play styles to the Tar Heels.
Armando Bacot expanding his game
The center position has evolved immensely over the last decade.
Slowly, the prototypical back-to-the-basket bruiser has begun to die out amongst college basketball, and in its place has risen the “stretch big”, or post players with the ability to shoot beyond the arch.
Last offseason, Davis said Bacot was working on evolving his game toward the new-age center, shooting 1,000 3-point shots a week in hopes of expanding his range. But once the season began, Bacot’s offseason workouts came to nothing, as he attempted only eight three-pointers last year.
However, from the first tip of Saturday’s scrimmage, Bacot’s improved skill beyond the paint was evident.
Last year’s leading scorer drilled multiple mid-range jumpers and knocked down a three-point shot late in the scrimmage. Bacot also showed off his improving handle, converting on numerous drives that started out from beyond the three-point arc.
Alongside Nance, who finished with 11 points, the Tar Heels' roster presents one of the more daunting frontcourts in the country.
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