Fans already know what each returning starter for the North Carolina men’s basketball team brings to the table this season, but some of the new faces will be expected to contribute in their own right.
Junior guard RJ Davis is the primary ball handler who led the team in assists last season, and graduate wing Leaky Black is known for guarding the opposing team's best player. Senior big man Armando Bacot grabbed over 40 percent of the starters’ rebounds last season, while junior guard Caleb Love’s shot selection is often UNC’s double-edged sword.
These assets of North Carolina's veteran core aren’t likely to see any significant changes this year. However, there are six new players on the roster that head coach Hubert Davis will utilize in early non-conference matchups.
Here’s a breakdown of the immediate impact that each newcomer might have.
The graduate forward from Northwestern will join Bacot in the frontcourt as a starting forward. At 6-foot-11, Nance has a multifaceted skill set with fundamental post moves, clever backdoor passes and a reliable outside shot. He has already showcased his versatility in scrimmages and the exhibition win against Johnson C. Smith.
Last season, North Carolina faced difficulty when Bacot got into foul trouble, as the leading rebounder’s absence decreased opportunities for second-chance points. This forced the team to move the slightly shorter Brady Manek inside, weakening Manek’s role as a perimeter threat and creating defensive liabilities.
Nance led Northwestern in scoring, rebounding and blocks, and he also registered the team’s second-most assists. These skills make him well-equipped for rotating to the center position if Bacot picks up fouls.
Although Nance’s impressive 45.2 percent clip from beyond the arc will likely drop if he increases his 3-point shooting volume, opposing teams will still need to guard him on the perimeter, opening more space for Bacot on the inside. Alternatively, high-low action with Bacot will give Nance a plethora of one-on-one opportunities to showcase his inside craft and footwork.