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Analysis: Looking at UNC women's basketball roster following recent transfers

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Junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams (3) goes for a lay-up in the UNC women's basketball team's game against Clemson University in the second round of ACC Championship in Greensboro, NC. UNC won 68-58.

Just a week removed from the North Carolina women’s basketball team’s 71-69 loss to Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams and sophomore forward Destiny Adams announced their decision to enter the transfer portal.

Todd-Williams’ perimeter defense and Adams’ physicality are key components the Tar Heels will look to replace next season. The team will also miss the sharpshooting of redshirt senior guard Eva Hodgson, who used her final year of eligibility.

Whether it’s through her four incoming high school recruits or the transfer portal, head coach Courtney Banghart will be tasked with making some pivotal changes to the roster. Here’s a look at UNC’s current depth chart and what each player brings to the table:

Guards

North Carolina’s backcourt is its strength, which begins with junior guard Deja Kelly. The First Team All-ACC selection led the Tar Heels in scoring and playing time, averaging 16.5 points and 35.4 minutes per game, respectively.

While Kelly’s veteran play is a cornerstone of Banghart’s system, first-year guards Paulina Paris and Kayla McPherson emerged as reliable ballhandlers midway through the season. Paris was usually the first guard off the bench when McPherson was injured, but McPherson saw more minutes in postseason play.

Paris is a consistent catch-and-shoot threat from the outside and boasts an impressive ability to finish through traffic with both hands. McPherson is a quality on-ball defender thanks to her athleticism and also demonstrated solid court vision and playmaking.

Incoming first-year Reniya Kelly is expected to round out UNC’s guard rotation. The four-star recruit was named the Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year and is touted for her midrange shooting ability, according to scout evaluations.

Wings

The loss of Todd-Williams and Adams leaves North Carolina’s wings as the unit with the most potential for change, but the Tar Heels will be boosted by the return of junior forward Alyssa Ustby. The First-Team All-ACC member was UNC's most versatile player, leading the team in rebounds, steals and blocks despite missing five games.

The group could also receive contributions from incoming first-year forward Laila Hull, the recipient of the Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year award. Hull finished her prep career as the all-time leading scorer at Zionsville Community High School and ranks second in all-time rebounding.

Frontcourt

Aside from Ustby, the Tar Heels lack a reliable post presence for isolation opportunities. Perhaps that’s where incoming first-year center Ciera Toomey comes in.

The five-star recruit out of Dunmore, Pennsylvania, stands at 6-foot-3 and is ranked No. 4 in her class. Although Toomey probably won’t start immediately, she is expected to make an impact in the paint on both ends of the floor. She has also showcased strong 3-point shooting — a rare asset for players of her size and position.

Junior Anya Poole will likely be North Carolina’s starting center, although she only averaged 21 minutes per game last season. Poole's veteran presence down low had an intangible impact on the Tar Heels’ composure in big moments, which is likely to continue next year.

Redshirt first-year forward Teonni Key and junior forward Alexandra Zelaya have similar skill sets — particularly with midrange shooting — but Key played more last season and was an integral piece in UNC’s first-round win over St. John’s.

UNC’s frontcourt wraps up with incoming first-year forward RyLee Grays. The four-star recruit out of Houston stands at 6-foot-3 and is described by scouts as an "intimidator on the block" due to her physicality.  

@danielhwei

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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Daniel Wei

Daniel Wei is a 2023-24 assistant sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. He has previously served as a senior writer. Daniel is a junior pursuing a double major in business administration and economics.