<![CDATA[The Daily Tar Heel: Mens basketball]]> Mon, 24 Jun 2019 21:57:10 -0400 Mon, 24 Jun 2019 21:57:10 -0400 SNworks CEO 2019 The Daily Tar Heel <![CDATA[Men's basketball 2018-19 season in review: ACC title highlights another strong season]]> Despite a less-than-ideal finish - an upset loss to Auburn in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament - there were still plenty of bright spots for the North Carolina men's basketball team in 2018-19.

The Tar Heels went 29-7 overall and posted a 16-2 mark in conference play, enough to split a regular season ACC title with eventual national champion Virginia. It was UNC's 32nd time capturing at least a share of the ACC regular season title and the ninth in head coach Roy Williams' 16 seasons.

After going 11-3 in a tough non-conference slate - including a Dec. 15 win against Gonzaga - the Tar Heels soon found themselves at a crossroads, suffering an 62-83 thrashing at the hands of Louisville in their third ACC game. Rather than roll over, the team responded by ripping off seven straight wins and going 16-2 to finish the regular season, tying the Cavaliers atop the ACC.

North Carolina also went 2-1 against a much-hyped Duke team in 2018-19. The 73-74 loss to the Blue Devils came in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament in Charlotte, N.C., denying the Tar Heels a third win against their rival and a shot at a postseason conference title.

Still, North Carolina earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament for the 17th time in school history, an NCAA record. But after handling Iona and Washington in the first two rounds, UNC was outshot and outplayed in the Sweet 16 against Auburn, bringing the Tar Heels' season to an end with an 80-97 loss. The Tigers advanced all the way to the Final Four in Minneapolis, Minn. before falling to Virginia.

Roy Williams' squad never would have gotten that far without the help of a high-scoring Tar Heel triumvirate: graduate wing Cameron Johnson, who led the team with 16.9 points per game; Coby White, who posted 16.1 points per game in his first and last season in Chapel Hill; and senior forward Luke Maye, who was third on the team in points (14.9) and first in rebounds (10.5).

Those three accounted for 55.8 percent of North Carolina's points in 2018-19, and took turns carrying the scoring burden in different games. Rounding out the starting five were senior guard Kenny Williams and sophomore forward Garrison Brooks, while first-year Nassir Little was the Tar Heels' most valuable player off the bench.

A much-hyped recruit coming in to Chapel Hill, Little averaged 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds before declaring for the NBA draft alongside White.

Thus, North Carolina lost its five leading scorers from 2018-19: Johnson, Maye and Williams, who all graduated, and the two rookie standouts. That void will have to be filled by returners Brandon Robinson, Leaky Black and Brooks, among others, along with incoming players like Cole Anthony and Armando Bacot.

The Auburn loss doesn't diminish UNC's accomplishments last season, nor does it change the fact that Roy Williams had created a veritable championship blend, the right mix of young talent and veteran experience needed to win a title. The ball didn't bounce North Carolina's way, but all the pieces were there.

Only time will tell if this year's Tar Heels can replicate the considerable success of the team that came before them.

@ryantwilcox

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[ANALYSIS: Don't overlook returning players for UNC men's basketball]]> In the one-and-done era of college basketball, early season attention usually goes to the team with the latest big-time high school recruits. However, postseason success often favors the well-constructed rosters, balanced with youthful talent and veteran experience.

Relatedly, a lot has been made of the job head coach Roy Williams did on the recruiting trail this offseason ahead of the 2019-20 campaign. Williams snagged five-star point guard Cole Anthony, five-star big man Armando Bacot Jr., four-star combo guard Anthony Harris and 3-star guard Jeremiah Francis from the high school ranks, along with graduate transfers Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce.

Their arrival in Chapel Hill brings excitement and hope for another championship. It has also shifted attention away from the players that are already here and will continue to contribute. Here are three returning Tar Heels that will be vital to a successful season - and maybe even to hanging another banner in the Dean E. Smith Center.

Garrison Brooks

During his sophomore year, Brooks took large strides, earned the trust of Roy Williams and was rewarded with major increases in playing time on his way to becoming one of the Tar Heels' primary big men. Brooks jumped from 14.6 minutes per game in his first season in Chapel Hill to 23.0 minutes in his second.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 7.9 points and 5.6 rebounds, both increases from his first-year averages of 4.5 and 3.5, respectively.

With the addition of Bacot, North Carolina may look to revert back to an inside-out focus offensively, playing bully ball in the paint in its half-court sets. If that's the case, Brooks could easily see continued growth in these areas.

Brandon Robinson

With Seventh Woods deciding to transfer to South Carolina, Brandon Robinson is the lone senior who saw valuable minutes for the Tar Heels last season. After sophomore Leaky Black went down with an ankle injury, Robinson saw his minutes increase, and he made the most of them.

The Douglasville, Ga., native averaged 11.9 minutes a game while shooting 49.4 percent from the field and 46.0 percent from 3-point range.

This year, the 6-foot-4 guard will be in prime position to battle for a starting job in the backcourt alongside Anthony. His length also adds value on the defensive side of the ball for a North Carolina team that likes to switch on screens. If Robinson can keep his shooting averages high, expect him to play an even larger role in his last season as a Tar Heel.

Leaky Black

This time last year, Black was part of a trio of first-years that generated plenty of hype for the Tar Heel faithful. Since then, rookie partners in crime Coby White and Nassir Little have declared for the NBA Draft after standout seasons.

After missing a chunk of the season due to injury, Black will return to Chapel Hill for his sophomore campaign and should have a big impact in the upcoming year.

At 6-foot-7, the Concord, N.C., native has the length and ability to legitimately defend three positions. On offense, Black showed an ability to handle the ball and run the North Carolina offense. If Williams decides to play him as a combo guard again, he should have success operating on the elbow over smaller guards.

@JSIMP24

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[Luke Maye, Kenny Williams sign with Bucks, Spurs after NBA Draft]]> One day after the 2019 NBA Draft, Luke Maye and Kenny Williams have found homes in the professional ranks.

After both went undrafted on Thursday, former North Carolina forward Luke Maye signed with the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, while guard Kenny Williams signed with the San Antonio Spurs, according to a release from the athletic department.

Both Tar Heels graduated in the spring after four years with the program, highlighted by a national championship win in 2017.

Maye finished his career in Chapel Hill with 1,392 points and 942 rebounds, 10th most in program history. A Huntersville, N.C., native, he posted 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in 2017-18 and 14.9 points and 10.5 rebounds as a senior. Maye also became the first Tar Heel to average a double-double in back-to-back seasons since 1976.

Williams totaled 915 points and 143 three-pointers in his UNC career, starting for the Tar Heels in the 2016-17 national championship season before suffering a season-ending injury in early February. He scored in double figures 49 times, including posting 20 and 18 points in a pair of home wins against Duke the last two seasons.

Maye and Williams will join fellow Tar Heels Coby White, Cameron Johnson and Nassir Little, all of whom were drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft on Thursday.

@ryantwilcox

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[For UNC, an NBA Draft to remember for many different reasons]]> Imagine that before the 2018-19 season, I told you that not one, but two UNC men's basketball players would find themselves as lottery picks in the next year's NBA Draft.

Now imagine that I told you that neither of them was Nassir Little.

It would've been hard to believe. Very hard to believe.

Gotta love draft night.

First-year guard Coby White was the first off the board for the Tar Heels, taken seventh overall by the Chicago Bulls. NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski described White as "perhaps the fastest rising prospect" in pre-draft workouts; in reality, White's stock has been on an astronomical trajectory since North Carolina's season began, a year in which he led the Tar Heels in assists and was second on the team in points. Before the year, White was seen as a late first round pick at best.

According to a post-draft statement from Roy Williams, White was also in "serious consideration" for the third, fourth, fifth and sixth overall picks. Not bad for a guy ranked 96th in his high school class three years ago.

Then, in what was considered the surprise of the night, the Phoenix Suns leapt at the chance to take UNC's Cameron Johnson 11th overall. Indeed, though many thought of Johnson as perhaps the best shooter in the draft, he was projected as a late first-round talent, not a lottery pick. White, upon hearing the news, summed the moment up pretty succinctly: "That's crazy. That's so love, bro."

Hey, at least the Suns know exactly what they're doing, right?

For one to rise, though, another has to fall. Little would have to wait another hour to hear his name called, eventually being picked 25th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. Among those drafted before him: Tyler Herro, Sekou Doumbouya, Goga Bitadze, Luka Samanic, Matisse Thybulle and, just before Little, former Virginia guard Ty Jerome.

Here's your reminder that before the year, Little was the No. 3 player in his high school class according to 247Sports, a consensus top-five pick with can't-miss athleticism and a ridiculous motor.

If he logged the same amount of minutes as, say, Darius Garland, the No. 5 pick who sat out most of last season due to injury, he likely would've still enjoyed a lottery pick selection. Instead, Little averaged 9.8 points per game off the bench in his lone season in Chapel Hill - not enough, seemingly, in the eyes of most scouts. That's why they play the games, as they say.

The good news for Little is that the draft is a crapshoot. Would anyone be shocked if he turned the motivation of his late selection into a long and productive NBA career? Not really. Williams said he was "dying" for Little as he waited to be picked, but called him "the absolute steal of the draft."

In any event, Thursday was still, by any metric, the most successful draft night in nearly a decade from a UNC perspective: three first round picks for the fourth time in program history (most since 2012, when there were four), while Little became the 52nd Tar Heel selected in the first round, an NCAA record. With Cole Anthony's arrival in Chapel Hill, many expect him to become the 53rd in a year's time.

Of course, the team that selected you is a lot more important than the slot in which you were taken. For Little, Portland is a franchise with a solid infrastructure, coming off of a Western Conference Finals appearance, with a desperate need for a young, athletic forward to lock down opposing wings: [Larry David voice] Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Chicago and Phoenix, though? Not so much. The Bulls last season were best known for having a drill sergeant as a coach who was still woefully unable to discipline his young players, while the Suns just made their *checks fingers* 258th consecutive trip to the lottery.

Only time will tell if White and Johnson can help turns things around for their new franchises. That's most of the fun of draft night - the unpredictability. Perhaps the night wasn't what Coby White, Cameron Johnson and Nassir Little had anticipated, with each having their own reasons as to why.

But that's over now. The chips have fallen. For three of the newest former Tar Heels, the only thing that matters is what comes next.

@ryantwilcox

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[PREVIEW: Here's where a few former Tar Heels could end up in the NBA draft]]> Thursday's NBA Draft will be a busy one for North Carolina men's basketball, as up to four former Tar Heels could end up hearing their names called. Here's where members of our sports desk think they could end up, and on what team they'd be best suited.

Coby White, guard

Jerome Simpson, staff writer: In November, most NBA draft boards didn't have Coby White ranked as a first-round talent; now, he's primed to be a lottery pick. After taking North Carolina by storm, White is ready for the next level.

White's breakaway speed in the open court has been discussed ad nauseam, but other aspects of his game have come a long way, enough to make him the favorite to be the first Tar Heel drafted.

Of course, the Goldsboro, N.C. native has room to grow. At the next level, he'll need to limit his live ball turnovers and continue to develop into a floor general in the half-court. NBA teams will want him to bump up his 4.1 assists per game.

But White has effectively molded himself into a well-balanced scorer. Yes, he's got the open court speed of John Wall or De'Aaron Fox, but he's also flashed the split dribble of Kyrie Irving and shades of James Harden step-backs. He has the potential to be an elite shot creator.

White is projected as high as No. 5 overall to Cleveland, but most draft boards have him going No. 7 overall to Chicago. The Bulls haven't hidden their desires to upgrade at the point guard position; after three years in the league, Kris Dunn has left organizations with more questions than answers.

Pairing the 6-foot-5 White with Zach LaVine in the backcourt, along with the developing Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. in the frontcourt, could push the Bulls into contention in a few years.

Nassir Little, forward

Matthew Audilet, staff writer: If you were making predictions about Nassir Little's draft position at the beginning of this past season and you said he wouldn't be a lottery pick, you would get some funny looks. Now it looks as though the Tar Heel forward may barely even crack the top 10.

Coming out of high school, Little was ranked third in his class by 247Sports, and many outlets had him going somewhere in the top five of the 2019 draft.

While Little did provide valuable contributions to this year's team, he averaged just under 10 points per game coming off the bench for head coach Roy Williams, leading many to believe his draft stock has slipped.

Still, Little has attributes that are enticing to any NBA team. His high motor and incredible athleticism make him an excellent slasher and finisher. And at 6-foot-6, 224 pounds with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, he is more than ready physically for the NBA game. Little's handle and ability to create his own shot are where he can improve.

Little's build and style of play is similar to that of Hawks forward Taurean Prince. Both are excellent defenders who can guard any position. Prince is also a recently improved shooter, something Little also needs to work on if he wants to have a long NBA career.

If Little falls, expect the Washington Wizards to take him with the ninth pick. For years, the Wizards have been looking for someone to push them to Eastern Conference contention;now primed for a rebuild or retool around Bradley Beal, Little's high upside could be the infusion of talent they need.

Cameron Johnson, forward

Audilet: If Cam Johnson proved anything in his college career, it's this: he can handle a transition. The graduate transfer arrived at UNC and had an immediate impact in his two years in Chapel Hill. With his style of play, it would be no surprise if Johnson seamlessly made the jump to the next level.

Averaging 47.5 percent from 3-point range last year and standing at nearly 6-foot-9, Johnson is an attractive pick for any team looking for a knock-down shooter with the ability to shoot over smaller defenders. His skillset makes him a perfect piece to pair with players who can draw more than one defender, freeing him out on the wing for open shots.

The most immediate concern teams may have with Johnson is his age; at 23 years old, he's older than some young NBA stars. On the other hand, Johnson is a lower risk than others, as teams don't have to wonder whether he'll reach his potential: he's seemingly already there.

Johnson's upside is similar to that of Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton. Neither will dazzle you with athletic ability, but both have a smooth jumper and the option to pull up over smaller defenders from beyond the arc.

With the 21st pick and a desperate need for three-point shooting, the Oklahoma City Thunder would be an ideal landing spot for Johnson. Opposing defenses would have to focus most of their energy on Russell Westbrook and Paul George, making Johnson a great scoring option on the wing.

Luke Maye, forward

Andrew Reynolds, staff writer: Though he's not expected to be drafted, Maye has worked out with multiple NBA teams, the most interesting of which is the Charlotte Hornets, Maye's hometown team that has the 52nd pick in the draft.

As far as NBA comparisons, Kris Humphries comes to mind, a player that didn't receive significant minutes but contributed in multiple categories. Humphries posted a career 46.3 percent shooting from the field while averaging 6.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game at the power forward spot.

Maye's smaller build for his position and lack of athleticism have been well documented, but his aggressiveness crashing the boards, which lead to him posting double digits rebounds in the ACC, will help any NBA team. Maye's leadership and high basketball IQ will also help his NBA chances moving forward.

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[Tar Heels in the pros: Danny Green joins rare company, captures second NBA title]]> The Toronto Raptors' historic victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals gave the country of Canada and Raptors fans what they've been searching for since the beginning of the organization: an NBA title. While this accomplishment marks a series of firsts for the Raptors organization, North Carolina basketball alum Danny Green is no stranger to the championship podium.

Green joined the list of former Tar Heels to earn an NBA ring when he won his first championship with the San Antonio Spurs back in 2014. He averaged 9.2 points per game on 53 percent shooting and shot 45 percent behind the arc in the Finals.

That title didn't just add Green's name to a list of Tar Heel champions, though. The victory also cemented his name on a much shorter list with some pretty elite company.

Green became one of the few players who've won both an NCAA and an NBA championship, joining NBA legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson. The only other Tar Heels to accomplish this feat are legendary themselves; James Worthy and Michael Jordan won it all at UNC together back in 1982, and then both went on to become champions in the pros.

With Thursday's Finals victory, Green joins Worthy and Jordan in this right, as well: Tar Heels with multiple NBA championships.

Green was acquired by the Raptors last offseason in a trade that was headlined by Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan. Toronto's general manager, Masai Ujiri, correctly guessed that the addition of Leonard, paired with Green's skills as a spot-up shooter and defender, could help propel the Raptors to a Finals run.

Green's efforts as a role player were invaluable to the Raptors success. He averaged 10.3 points per game during the regular season on an extremely efficient 45 percent shooting from behind the 3-point line. Green was an integral part of Toronto's balanced scoring attack, as he was one of six Raptors who averaged double figures in scoring throughout the season.

During this year's Finals, Green was largely a non-factor except for a breakout 18-point performance that helped push the Raptors to an important Game 3 road victory. Green helped counter Stephen Curry's six 3-pointers and massive 47 point scoring night with six 3-pointers of his own. After the Warriors lost a pair of stars in Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, the Raptors needed their role players to step up, and Green did just that.

Green will always be a Tar Heel born and Tar Heel bred, but winning a second NBA title in Toronto will give him some fond memories of the Raptor red.

@Matthew_Audilet

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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Danny Green hoists the 2009 NCAA championship trophy with his team. Green has since gone on to win the NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs. (DTH File Photo)

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<![CDATA[Former UNC guard Seventh Woods to transfer to South Carolina]]> After three years as part of the North Carolina men's basketball, former Tar Heel guard Seventh Woods will spend his final year of eligibility at South Carolina, he announced on Friday.

On April 25, Woods posted on Instagram that he intended to transfer from UNC, days after commitments from incoming first-year guards Cole Anthony and Anthony Harris. Then on Friday, Woods' Instagram story featured his new South Carolina student ID, along with the caption "USC '20."


In 2018-19, the Columbia, S.C. native averaged 2.5 points and 2.1 assists in 10.8 minutes per game as a junior, backing up Coby White at the point guard spot.

Woods also played in all 40 games as a first-year for a Tar Heel team that won the national championship in 2017. A stress fracture in his foot limited Woods' playing time in his sophomore year.

A former 4-star recruit, Woods will join a South Carolina team that went 16-16 last season and failed to make the NCAA tournament.

"My three years here at UNC has been nothing short of amazing," Woods wrote in his original Instagram post on April 25. He continued: "I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and the best is yet to come!"

@ryantwilcox

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[Over a year later, still few answers in Jalek Felton's departure from North Carolina]]> CHARLOTTE - On March 1, 2018, Jalek Felton withdrew from North Carolina, about a month after the University suspended him and began an investigation into allegations of misconduct.

Over a year later, little has changed. In a phone interview with The Daily Tar Heel two weeks ago, attorney Kerry Sutton confirmed that the investigation hasn't ended, and she is still actively representing Felton, a former reserve guard on the men's basketball team.

"We are still working hard to clear his name," the Durham-based lawyer said, "and we'll take every legal avenue we have to."

Felton has kept a low profile since his suspension in January 2018, which made him ineligible for all "University activities," including class and basketball. His last interview with a United States media outlet came in July 2018, when he spoke with ABC Columbia at a summer league event in his home state of South Carolina.

Since then, Felton has played professionally in Slovenia and Finland and communicated primarily through his Twitter account, team-issued statements and Sutton, his attorney.

But, with the 2019 NBA Draft approaching, Felton made a rare public appearance. On May 21, he worked out for the Charlotte Hornets with five other players and met with reporters afterward. Felton, 21, declined to discuss the specifics of his suspension and withdrawal. He did, however, reflect on his time at North Carolina with a sense of completion.

"Not really," he said, when asked if there were any updates on his situation. "I was just young, made a couple bad decisions. That's in the past. Looking forward and just moving forward from here."

At the time of Felton's suspension, the University declined to comment, citing federal privacy laws. In an email to the DTH last week, a University spokesperson said that was "still the case" and declined to comment.

'Really gifted'

Felton arrived in Chapel Hill with considerable hype.

He was the No. 1 player in South Carolina's class of 2017 and the No. 30 player in the country. He was the nephew of Raymond Felton, the former UNC guard who helped the Tar Heels win the 2005 national championship. And he had committed early, too - in 2014, when he was a high school sophomore and North Carolina was embroiled in its academic-athletic scandal.

At UNC's 2017 media day, head coach Roy Williams said Felton was "maybe the most gifted player on our team" but added that the guard's work ethic and defense had to improve.

"If I can get him to be more focused and tougher, I think he's got a chance to be a really good player and really help us," Williams said. "He's got some skills that a lot of other people don't have."

In North Carolina's season opener against Northern Iowa, Felton filled in for an injured Joel Berry II and started his first career game as a Tar Heel. Berry, a senior, returned one a game later, and the Felton began to split reserve minutes with then-sophomore Seventh Woods. The results proved a mixed bag.

Through 22 games, Felton was averaging 9.7 minutes, 2.9 points and 1.6 assists per game. There were flashes: a career-high 15 against Western Carolina, 12 points on four threes against Ohio State, a dunk against Stanford.

There were struggles, too. In December 2017, Felton admitted that Williams' coaching style made him "almost want to cry sometimes," but he also saw its benefits.

"You have to look at all the guys he has pushed," the first-year said. "All the point guards he's had, and look how successful they've been."

In nine ACC games, Felton had just eight total points and nine total assists. And on the morning of UNC's tenth conference game - Jan. 30, 2018, on the road at Clemson - his suspension was announced in an 11 a.m. press release.

"University of North Carolina freshman guard Jalek Felton has been suspended from the University," it read, "and therefore is not currently eligible to participate in any University activities."

'Due process rights have been violated'

Within the hour of Felton's suspension, Sutton announced she'd be representing him. In a Jan. 30 tweet, she called Felton "an extraordinary young man & an exemplary student athlete."

"The support he's getting from (UNC) fans and friends today means the world to him," Sutton wrote. "We'll get him back in class & on the court where he belongs as soon as we can."

In an interview with the DTH, Sutton declined to discuss specifics of the investigation, as she has done throughout her time representing Felton.

Her law firm, Sutton & Lindsay, PLLC, lists a number of specializations on its website, including defenses for students and athletes facing allegations of sexual misconduct and Title IX violations.

Sutton recently represented Allen Artis, a former UNC football player who was charged with misdemeanor assault on a female and sexual battery in 2016 and had his case dismissed in 2017.

On the night of Jan. 30, after North Carolina lost to Clemson, Williams said he had "nothing to do" with the how the suspension was handled, which was a University matter.

Felton was neither charged with a crime nor arrested. He missed five weeks of classes and basketball while the University gathered information for the investigation.

And on March 1, Sutton announced in a tweet that Felton had withdrawn from the University. In later interviews, she said that UNC "turned its back" on Felton and "kicked him out without giving him his rights." Sutton reaffirmed that opinion to the DTH.

"I believe his due process rights have been violated, and we will continue to work hard to remedy that part of the problem," she said.

Felton quickly began talking with other colleges about transfer options. In his July 2018 interview with ABC Columbia, he said South Carolina, Texas, Texas A&M and St. John's had all shown interest.

He ended up choosing against all of them. Felton signed with Petrol Olimpija, a professional team in Slovenia, rather than sitting out the 2018-19 season as a transfer, as required by NCAA rules.

He tweeted a photo of him and his first professional contract on July 13. Its caption read: "Different Path …. Same Destination."

'Made me grow up fast'

After just two games with Petrol Olimpija, Felton was on the move again.

The basketball website Sportando reported his departure in mid-December. By the end of January, Felton had signed with BC Nokia in Finland. He had 31 points, six assists and five rebounds in his debut. Over seven games, he averaged 16 points, 7.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds for BC Nokia in 28.6 minutes a game.

In Charlotte, Felton said European basketball was a "totally different world," adding that his time overseas - most of it alone - was a learning experience.

"It taught me a lot," he said. "You know what I'm saying, with almost losing basketball to here (working out for the draft) is unbelievable. It just made me grow up fast. It just made me grow up and realize how fast something can be taken away from me. And I appreciate the game a little more now - a lot more now - than I did before."

Felton said he's kept in touch with "mostly all" of his 2017-18 teammates. He specifically named Theo Pinson, now with the Brooklyn Nets; Brandon Robinson, a rising senior; and Woods, who is transferring from UNC. Felton has also leaned on his uncle, Raymond, now a guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, for draft advice.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard isn't projected to be drafted by any major media outlet. His immediate plan is to stay in the United States next season, competing in the NBA Summer League and then the developmental G League, if needed.

"I'm blessed to be going through this process right now, with all I've been through in the past year and a half," Felton said. "It's a tremendous blessing. I can't thank God enough."

As for his conduct investigation, though, there is no immediate timetable. In August of last year, Felton told ABC Columbia that the investigation could wrap up in January 2019. But the investigation is still ongoing, Sutton confirmed to the DTH.

"The University took longer than we expected to do their part of the investigation and getting it set up," she said. A University spokesperson declined to comment.

Sutton declined to give a new estimate for when she thinks the investigation will end. She has been speaking with Felton a few times a week and said they will "probably be friends for a long, long time."

"I only work with clients that I like, because it's very stressful," she said. "So he is a wonderful guy, and I will work hard to do everything I can for him - that's for sure."

@chapelfowler

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[PREVIEW: DTH sports desk gives its NBA Finals predictions]]> On Thursday night, the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors will face off in Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals. The Warriors are looking to win their fourth title in five years, while the Raptors are making their first Finals appearance in franchise history. Keep reading for predictions from five members of the DTH sports desk.

Ryan Wilcox, sports editor:

The Warriors are not better without Kevin Durant.

...Right?

In five Durant-less games this postseason, Steph Curry is averaging 35.8 points on 41.7 percent from 3-point range, compared to 23.5 points on 37 percent from deep in 11 games with KD. More importantly, the Warriors are undefeated without Durant, having just swept the Portland Trail Blazers for a spot in the NBA Finals.

On paper, it doesn't make sense that Golden State would be better sans Durant, the most talented scorer of all time. And over the course over an entire season, they're not.

But Durant-to-New York rumors are unavoidable. They have been all season, ever since Draymond Green blew up at Durant after a November game, reportedly accusing Durant of making the season all about himself and his free agency.

Golden State all too aware of the meta conversations around Durant. Since he went down, the Warriors have been playing with a razor-sharp edge - expect them to come out with something to prove, and remind us who started their dynasty in the first place.

Warriors in four; Steph Curry wins Finals MVP

Brian Keyes, summer editor in chief

The writing is on the wall for Golden State.

When was the last time a superstar guard and high-scoring 7-footer seemed destined for a split despite going on a historic run due to contrasting personalities and play-styles?

That's right, it's the 2004 Lakers all over again! And this year, the Raptors are the Pistons. They've got all the parts. A mid-season trade for a 2-way post player to push them over the edge? Check. An underdog point guard who kicked around the league early on before finding his place, defends like a pit bull and can hit timely shots? Check. Former multi-time Defensive Player of the Year? Check.

Sometimes, the basketball gods just want a good narrative. The Raptors are in the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. Drake might get into a fist-fight with the members of Smash Mouth. Kawhi Leonard might score 60 without moving a muscle in his face, and Kyle Lowry might shoot 3-17 and somehow be +20 in a game.

The Raptors have the players on defense to make life harder for the Warriors than it's ever been, especially if Kevin Durant misses more than two games. It might all depend on Danny Green learning how to shoot again and Fred VanVleet forgetting that he ever missed a shot. The Raptors bet big this year; I think it'll pay off.

Raptors in seven; Kawhi Leonard wins Finals MVP

Andrew Reynolds, staff writer:

Kawhi Leonard is tearing it up in this year's playoffs for Toronto, averaging 31.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. But while single individual performances can change a game - Leonard has arguably carried the Raptors to the Finals - team chemistry is equally important.

Even without Durant, the Warriors have plenty of talent. Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each have the ability to take over games, and have done so frequently in recent years. But it's their chemistry that makes them even tougher to beat, and when they get on a roll, they're almost unstoppable.

An injured Durant flew with the team to Toronto, and center DeMarcus Cousins has not officially been ruled out of Game 1. Add those two back, and the Raptors have an even bigger challenge to overcome.

Warriors in five; Steph Curry wins Finals MVP

Jerome Simpson, staff writer:

Toronto had a great Eastern Conference title run and made franchise history along the way. Kawhi Leonard proved he's the best two-way player in the NBA, and since the birth of his son, Fred VanVleet has shot 68 percent from the field and 82.4 percent from three.

It makes for a great sports story, but it isn't sustainable.

Simply put, the Warriors win because they have more guys who have been in this moment, they have more options offensively, they're engaged, and they thrive when people count them out. Kevin Durant, no Kevin Durant, it won't matter, the Warriors are THAT good.

Warriors in six; Klay Thompson wins Finals MVP

Matthew Audilet, staff writer:

With the Warriors making their fifth straight NBA Finals appearance, it's extremely difficult to build a case for them not winning the Larry O'Brien trophy for the third year in a row.

While it may seem like the injury to Durant would open a window of opportunity for the Toronto Raptors, the Warriors have gone 5-0 in his absence. The stellar play of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and the team's dazzling ball movement in Durant's absence are reminiscent of the Warriors team that won a championship back in 2015.

The incredible playoff numbers being posted by Kawhi Leonard in his first year as a Raptor will only be enough to push Toronto to one win at home. The Raptors should be able to take either Game 1 or 2 in an electric home atmosphere, feeding off the city's excitement for the franchise's first ever Finals appearance. This excitement will surely wane in the coming games, though, as they attempt to contain all of the Warriors' prolific offensive weapons.

Warriors in five; Steph Curry wins Finals MVP

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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Sports editors from left to right: Chris Hilburn-Trenkle, Jack Frederick, Ryan Wilcox and Holt McKeithan.

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<![CDATA[Former UNC guard Seventh Woods is zeroing in on three schools for transfer]]> Seventh Woods, a former UNC guard who announced he would transfer from North Carolina on April 25, has narrowed his list of new destinations down to three.

Woods, who played three seasons with the Tar Heels, is considering South Carolina, Gonzaga and Michigan, as first reported by Lou Bezjak of The State. ABC Columbia's Mike Gillespie later reported that Woods has already made his choice and will likely announce it next week.

In 94 career games, Woods averaged 1.8 points, 1.5 assists and 0.6 steals per game. He spent his first two seasons as a reserve behind Joel Berry II and played in all 40 games for UNC's 2017 national championship team, which defeated Gonzaga in the NCAA title game.

As a junior, Woods backed up record-setting first-year guard Coby White, now a projected NBA Draft lottery pick. As a senior, he would've been pressed for playing time yet again. Days before Woods announced his intent to transfer, five-star guard Cole Anthony and four-star guard Anthony Harris both committed to UNC.

Woods, a Columbia, S.C. native, will sit out the 2019-20 season per NCAA transfer rules, as reported by The State, and use his final season of eligibility in 2020-21.

@chapelfowler

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[Tar Heels in the pros: Danny Green returns to the NBA Finals]]> What do Bob Cousy, Magic Johnson and UNC alumni Michael Jordan and Danny Green all have in common? They've all won an NCAA championship and an NBA Finals. The list of men who have accomplished such a feat is short - the list of men who have an NCAA title and multiple NBA titles is even shorter.

Danny Green has a chance to do just that.

In 2009, as a piece of the Tar Heels' NCAA championship team, Green averaged 13.1 points per game and shot 41.8 percent from behind the arc.

Fast-forward five years, Green averaged 41.5 percent from 3-point land over the course of the regular season and captured his first and only NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014. The year prior, Green was even better, knocking down 27 3-pointers, then a Finals record, in a losing effort to the Miami Heat. In 2014, his Spurs got revenge against the Heat in five games.

Fast-forward another five years, and the North Carolina product once again has a chance at capturing an NBA championship, this time with the Toronto Raptors.

During the 2019 campaign Green saw some of the best statistical performances of his career, including a 62.2 effective field goal percentage and a remarkable 45.5 percent mark from deep.

The 31-year-old veteran has earned the moniker of a three-and-D player, equally known for knocking down corner threes as he is for his premier perimeter defense.

While Green's performance stood out in the regular season, his postseason play has taken a hit. Thus far, through 18 games in the playoffs, Green is averaging just 6.8 points per game and a dismal 31.4 percent from 3-point land.

If the Raptors are going to knock off the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors, they are going to need Green to rediscover his championship form, when he shot 49.1 percent from the field and 47.5 percent from three in 2014 with the Spurs.

If Green can do that, it will go a long way to adding his name to an even shorter and more exclusive list of basketball champions.

@jsimp24

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[Former UNC guard Jalek Felton says his 2018 suspension, withdrawal are 'in the past']]> CHARLOTTE - Jalek Felton spent Tuesday morning in a familiar environment.

The former UNC guard, who was suspended from the University in January 2018 and withdrew just over a month later, was one of six players at a pre-draft workout hosted by the Charlotte Hornets.

He took shots and scrimmaged on the practice court that he hung out on as a kid, back when his uncle, Raymond Felton, now with the Oklahoma City Thunder, was starting his career with the then-Charlotte Bobcats. To work out on that same Spectrum Center court as a prospective NBA player, the younger Felton said, was a "tremendous blessing."

After the workout, Felton met with reporters for a wide-ranging interview that touched on his time at North Carolina, his experiences playing overseas in Slovenia and Finland, his future basketball plans and more. Here are some relevant excerpts:

On his draft preparation experience so far:

"I'm blessed to be going through this process right now, with all I've been through in the past year and a half. It's a tremendous blessing. I can't thank God enough."

On any updates regarding his suspension and withdrawal from UNC:

"Not really. I was just young, made a couple bad decisions. That's in the past. Looking forward and just moving forward from here."

On what he learned playing overseas:

"It taught me a lot, you know what I'm saying? With almost losing basketball to here (working out for the NBA Draft) is unbelievable. It just made me grow up fast. It just made me grow up and realize how fast something can be taken away from me. And I appreciate the game a little more now - a lot more now - than I did before.

"Going over there as a 20-year-old kid on your own, that's rough, man. The first month was tough, but it taught me to fight through adversity on my own. I don't have Mama, I don't have Daddy to hold my hand. I just had to go up and get it on my own, learn to mature and just really be on my own. It helped me to be a man today, walking in here, just doing everything on my own."

On adjusting to European basketball:

"They play super hard. They're aggressive. It's just a totally different world over there; they look at basketball in a whole different way than we do. They're not as talented, so they just play really hard and really aggressive. There's some you meet who have talent with aggression, and they're really good. It honestly gets you prepared. It makes you grow up really fast over there.

"Sometimes, you go on a team and meet a vet that's 30. He's done been there 10 years, 12 years, and you've got to battle that every day. There's a lot of ups and downs. It was definitely challenging."

On his future basketball plans:

"I'm really hoping I'll get drafted, but if not, a Summer League invite for sure. Worst case scenario, G League. For sure, if possible, I'm trying to stay in the (United) States."

On how much of a resource his uncle, Raymond Felton, has been:

"A big help, considering he's done walked every path I walked, except for overseas. As far as being in here and going through this process, he's helped a lot. He told me you need to get in shape ASAP. You come in here, you're not in shape? You'll bum it. My main thing was really getting my body in the best shape I can get, come in here and give it all I got and leave it here, leave it up to them to make the decision."

@chapelfowler

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[COLUMN: Despite what you may think, UNC basketball players are just like you and me]]> Maybe you don't know it yet, but when you step onto campus you'll realize the basketball players you grew up watching on primetime television aren't that different from you and me.

With a campus culture that revolves around basketball for months at a time, it can be easy to forget sometimes. The UNC-Duke game reaches every nook and cranny of Chapel Hill every year and the towering figures you see walking along campus might not look like the average student.

And to be clear, in some ways they are different. Not many of us in this world were awarded the athletic prowess or vertical abilities to dunk with ease, or dribble circles around world-class college defenders. Not many of us grew up to be almost seven-feet tall, or will have to answer to the media on a daily basis for our mistakes.

But you'd be fooled to believe those 18 to 22 year olds - athletes our own age who are almost never thought of that way - don't have a lot in common with the rest of us.

When I first stepped on this campus, I thought it was weird to be walking alongside athletes I'd only ever seen on ESPN, or from the nosebleeds of the Dean Dome. It was strange to see Joel Berry, Luke Maye, Brice Johnson or Marcus Paige standing in line at the Chick-fil-A in Bottom of Lenoir, or walking to class. But I got used to it.

The frequency with which you run into people the sports world wants to know all about becomes even more cool when you remember what you have in common. You're here in Chapel Hill too getting an education. For me, just understanding that has made interviewing the team for the DTH a whole lot more fun.

Regardless of growing up a UNC fan or not, my best advice is to treat basketball players and all kinds of athletes with respect. After all the years idolizing players, staying up late watching the games or wearing your favorite player's jerseys on your back, we want to believe they are different. But I learned they aren't the larger-than-life figures I once thought them to be. They're just people.

I couldn't learn this until I experienced it firsthand. On one of my first days of classes, I was walking through the Pit when I saw someone come out of Student Stores as a handful of Gatorades came tumbling to the ground.

The person was clearly embarrassed. After a moment, I realized the figure a couple dozen yards away from me was Luke Maye. He was trying to figure out his first week of college life, just like I was.

I learned a lot from that moment, just as I have from being around all kinds of people who go to this University. Without an athlete's perspective of my own, I know for sure basketball players sometimes lose their cool playing video games and do things they probably shouldn't. They endure classes, exams, hard and long days, get lost on campus the first couple of weeks and the embarrass themselves.

So with that newfound knowledge, don't abuse your new privileges as fellow students. Don't be creepy, follow them around, try to get their autograph, or be afraid to talk to them like you would anyone else.

These players don't deserve to be the subject of your daily obsessions, nor should they be cast aside for being too different - too unapproachable for someone like you.

They are everyday college students like all of the rest of us who are trying to figure their way around classes and adulthood. Treat them as such.

They just happen to be incredibly good at basketball, on top of that.

@_JACKF54_

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[Here's an updated look at UNC basketball's roster for the 2019-20 season]]> For the North Carolina men's basketball team, next season will be one filled with change - though expectations will remain as high as ever.

This offseason, the Tar Heels lost six key rotation players, including their five leading scorers from 2018-19. Graduates Cameron Johnson, Kenny Williams and Luke Maye are gone. So are standouts Coby White and Nassir Little, who both declared for the NBA draft after their first season in Chapel Hill. And last month, backup point guard Seventh Woods announced his intention to transfer after three seasons at UNC.

For a while, it looked like last season's Sweet 16 appearance and 2-1 record against rival Duke would be all that Tar Heels fans would have to hold on to for the foreseeable future.

But thanks to the efforts of head coach Roy Williams and company in recent weeks, the 2019-20 year will be a reload, not a rebuild.

One month ago, the 2019 recruiting haul for North Carolina consisted of just two players: 5-star center Armando Bacot of Bradenton, Florida and 3-star guard Jeremiah Francis of Pickerington, Ohio.

Then, on April 23, the Tar Heel backcourt got a major boost when 5-star guard Cole Anthony, one of the crown jewels of his senior class, and 4-star guard Anthony Harris both committed to Carolina.

For some, that might have been enough. But with scholarships left to offer, UNC remained active in the transfer market, landing graduate guard Christian Keeling from Charleston Southern and graduate forward Justin Pierce from William & Mary to fill out the roster. The two players both have one year of eligibility remaining, and will look to immediately contribute to a UNC team that won a share of the ACC regular season title last season.

All told, North Carolina landed four new players in the span of just 10 days, additions that changed the Tar Heels' outlook next season from NCAA tournament hopeful to possible title contender.

The most important of the recent commits was likely Anthony, the No. 4 player in his class according to 247Sports and the son of NBA veteran Greg Anthony. The Mouth of Wilson, Virginia product has been called "one of the most complete point guards I have ever recruited" by his new head coach, showcasing exceptional athleticism and a solid shooting stroke. He also won MVP honors at both the McDonald's All-America Game and the Jordan Brand Classic, two of the biggest showcase games in high school basketball.

Harris, a 4-star guard who was originally committed to Virginia Tech, missed much of his senior season after tearing his ACL. He is the No. 65 recruit in 247Sports' composite rankings and the No. 8 combo guard in his senior class.

Also crucial next season will be Bacot, who will anchor the Tar Heel frontcourt alongside rising junior forward Garrison Brooks. Bacot is one of the nation's top centers, ranked as the 26th best player in his class by 247Sports and the fifth-best at his position. He has a long wingspan and nice touch around the rim, projecting as a productive, offensive-minded big man.

The addition of 6-foot-4 Keeling will help shore up some concerns on the wing for North Carolina. Keeling is a potent threat from 3-point range, shooting 38 percent from deep last year, and he averaged 18.7 points and 6.9 rebounds as a junior at Charleston Southern.

Finally, the 6-foot-7 Pierce is a do-it-all big man who will bring a versatility to the Tar Heel front line that would have been missing next season. At William & Mary, Pierce shot 32.4 percent from beyond the arc last season and 41.6 percent the year prior, and could fill the role formerly filled by Luke Maye, a player who also tended to stretch the defense from the frontcourt.

That group will join a core of returning UNC players that includes rising senior Brandon Robinson, rising juniors Andrew Platek and Sterling Manley, and rising sophomore Leaky Black. Robinson received steady minutes off the bench last season as one of North Carolina's most potent 3-point threats, while Manley and Black were regular contributors before each suffering injuries that limited their late-season opportunities.

To be sure, the bulk of Roy Williams' rotation will feature a lot of new faces. But there's no reason why next season's team, led by veterans like Robinson and bolstered by the talent of Anthony and others, can't reach the heights of last year's squad - or, as fans hope, go even higher.

@ryantwilcox

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[Vasco Evtimov graduates from UNC, his 20-year promise to Dean Smith fulfilled]]> Vasco Evtimov will be the first to tell you: when he makes a promise, he sticks to it. Even if it takes 20 years to complete.

Evtimov graduated from North Carolina this weekend with a bachelor's degree in communications. In doing so, the 41-year-old fulfilled a promise he made to Dean Smith, his former head coach at UNC, in the summer of 1999.

And to confirm that accomplishment, Evtimov made good on another promise. In the hallways of the building that bears his namesake, there's a bronze bust of Smith, who died in 2015 at age 83.

"The first time I saw the statue, I always told myself the day I graduate, the first thing I'm going to do is come over here and take a picture - to make sure that he knows," Evtimov told The Daily Tar Heel in an exclusive interview. "And that's what I did. When I finally did it, the feeling was incredible."

The photo has done numbers. Evtimov joked that he's "never gotten so many likes on Facebook." And his Instagram's been blowing up, too. Everything culminated on Sunday morning, when he sat in Kenan Stadium with thousands of other undergraduates and officially became a UNC alumnus.

His path to graduation, which he first shared with the DTH in February, was a unique one. Evtimov arrived in Chapel Hill a 1996 McDonald's All-American, but he played sparingly for a star-studded team that went to the Final Four.

With the approval of Smith, Evtimov then took a redshirt year and completed 10 mandatory months of French military service. When the 6-foot-10 forward returned to North Carolina, much had changed.

Bill Guthridge was in his second year as head coach after Smith's surprise retirement ahead of the 1997-98 season. Evtimov played well in the preseason, but the NCAA handed him an 18-game suspension for playing with a local club team while in France. He returned late in the 1998-99 season and felt increasingly out of place.

That summer, he opted for a professional career overseas - but he promised Smith he would return to UNC and get his degree when he retired.

"It says everything about him: the kind of man he was, how important education was to him …" Evtimov said of Smith. "He didn't just care about you as a basketball player. He wanted you to become a grown man with an education because you needed to know basketball wasn't forever."

Evtimov retired in 2016 and soon after began taking classes through Complete Carolina, a degree completion program for former student-athletes. He lived in an apartment for five semesters, often biking to campus and taking classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

But just last week, as Evtimov finished up his exams, he had a bit of a scare.

His graduation status hinged on a passing grade in MATH 119, a class he'd struggled in all semester. It was ironic, Evtimov said, because he excelled at math in high school and got a B+ in MATH 118 earlier at UNC.

As graduation approached, he hung around in limbo, waiting to see if his final exam score would give him the boost he needed. The news didn't come until three days before graduation.

"Then I passed," Evtimov said, "and I was ready to go."

In the immediate future, Evtimov plans to stay in North Carolina. His son, Nicholas, has committed to play basketball at Western Carolina, and his daughters, Maria and Lili, go to school in Winston-Salem.

He'll be on the lookout for any coaching jobs - his eventual goal is to be a college assistant - while also securing something full-time where he can utilize his communications degree.

For now, though, Evtimov is celebrating his graduation with one of his favorite hobbies: carp fishing. For this interview, he called in from one of his spots in rural Danbury, North Carolina.

He reminisced on a lot: the promise he kept to Smith, coming back to UNC, the 8 a.m. classes he doesn't have to take anymore. And he thought back to the previous graduations he'd attended in Kenan Stadium and how Sunday's was different, in the best possible way.

"This time I walked," Evtimov said, "and the feeling was amazing."

@chapelfowler

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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Vasco Evtimov graduated with a degree in communications on Sunday. A promise to Dean Smith, his former head coach, is what got him there. Photo courtesy of Vasco Evtimov/Instagram.

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<![CDATA[Graduate transfer forward Justin Pierce picks UNC]]> Next year's North Carolina men's basketball team is finally complete.

Graduate transfer Justin Pierce, formerly of William & Mary, added to what has already been a busy recruiting cycle for head coach Roy Williams' team, announcing his commitment to the Tar Heels on Thursday on his personal Twitter account.

"I'm excited to announced that I am a Tar Heel!" Pierce wrote on Twitter. "North Carolina gives offers me the best opportunity to chase my dreams on and off the court."

In his junior season at William & Mary, Pierce averaged 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game, earning third team All-CAA honors.

Pierce announced his intention to transfer from William & Mary after longtime head coach Tony Shaver, himself a former Tar Heel, was dismissed from the program.

The 6-foot-7 forward will bring a versatility the Tar Heel frontcourt would have been missing next season. Pierce is a do-it-all big man with capable 3-point range, shooting 32.4 percent from beyond the arc last season and 41.6 percent the year prior. He could see significant playing time after the departure of Luke Maye, a player who also tended to stretch the defense from the front-court.

On Twitter, Pierce said he'll also pursue a master's degree in business administration, or MBA, while at UNC. After his playing career ends, he hopes to work in an NBA front office.

Pierce joins Christian Keeling of Charleston Southern as the second graduate transfer to spend his final season of eligibility in Chapel Hill. Those two will arrive in addition to the nation's sixth-ranked recruiting class, according to 247Sports, highlighted by five-stars Cole Anthony and Armando Bacot. Four-star Anthony Harris and three-star Jeremiah Francis are also a part of the class.

The 2019-20 North Carolina basketball team will look very different from the team that lost to Auburn in the Sweet 16 last season. With the addition of Pierce, there will now be six newcomers to replace six departing players for the Tar Heels.

"I'm excited to join the family and to compete for a national championship next year!" Pierce wrote on Twitter.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

@matt_chilson

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[Grad transfer Christian Keeling commits to UNC for 2019-20 season]]> The rich get richer.

On Friday night, graduate transfer Christian Keeling capped off one of the busiest recruiting weeks in recent UNC basketball memory, announcing on Twitter that he will join the Tar Heels for the 2019-20 season. Keeling averaged 18.7 points and 6.9 rebounds last season at Charleston Southern, and will spend his final year of eligibility in Chapel Hill.

Keeling originally said he was going to commit on May 12, Mother's Day, in honor of his late mother, but changed his mind.


The commitment is the third for head coach Roy Williams in the last four days, after five-star guard Cole Anthony, one of the most prized recruits in the 2019 class, and four-star guard Anthony Harris, both committed to the Tar Heels on Tuesday.

The addition of 6-foot-4 Keeling helps shore up some concerns on the wing for North Carolina next season. Keeling is also a potent threat from 3-point range - he shot 38 percent from deep last season.

And in what is quickly becoming vintage Armando Bacot, the incoming first-year center tweeted moments after Keeling's commitment that North Carolina has one more piece to add.



In 2019-20, the Tar Heels will look to follow up a season in which they captured a share of the ACC regular season title and fell to Auburn in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

@rwilcox_

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[Previewing UNC's roster after commitments from Cole Anthony and Anthony Harris]]> It was a whirlwind week in the world of North Carolina men's basketball. But as incoming first-year Armando Bacot proclaimed on Twitter, the Tar Heels might not be done yet.

This past Tuesday was one of the busiest days in UNC basketball recruiting history. In the morning, head coach Roy Williams secured a commitment from five-star guard Cole Anthony, the No. 3 player in his senior class and top combo guard in the country, according to 247Sports. Hours later, four-star guard Anthony Harris, No. 65 in the 2019 247Sports' composite rankings and the eighth-best combo guard in the class, joined the Tar Heels as well, and UNC's 2019 recruiting class skyrocketed to sixth on 247Sports' team rankings.

Along with incoming three-star guard Jeremiah Francis, the trio will ease a lot of concerns in the Tar Heel backcourt, which will lose starters Coby White and Kenny Williams. But questions on the wing remain - questions that could be answered by five-star small forward Precious Achiuwa, whose college decision is one of the last dominoes to fall in the high school basketball's senior class.

The Bronx, N.Y., native is ranked as the 13th player and the fourth-best small forward in the nation, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He's also an A-plus athlete and a projected NBA lottery pick in 2020. As written earlier this month, Achiuwa projects as someone who could come to Chapel Hill and immediately fill the role once occupied by Nassir Little, battling for rebounds inside and getting to the rim. But experts see Memphis, Kansas and Connecticut standing in the Tar Heels' way, among other teams. So, Achiuwa is likely a long shot.

Meanwhile, North Carolina remains active in the graduate transfer market, with former Charleston Southern star Christian Keeling listing Clemson and UNC as his top two schools. Keeling scored 18.7 points per game last season and shot 38 percent on 3-point attempts in 2018-19. He would provide some much-needed shooting for the Tar Heels.

A dynamic player on the wing could work wonders to round out UNC's roster. Be it Achiuwa, Keeling or someone else, Roy Williams will need someone to spar with other teams' best forwards. He now has plenty of depth in the backcourt, but just one returning rotation player, Leaky Black, between 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-7.

But even if Bacot's prediction doesn't pan out, the Tar Heels will end this week a lot better off than they started it. At worst, UNC's 2019-20 lineup will look something like this:

Anthony will start at point guard, with either Harris or Black joining him in the backcourt. Harris is a highly touted prospect, but Black has a year's more experience and impressed in limited minutes this past season, showing a propensity to handle the ball, contribute on the defensive end and see the entire floor at 6-foot-7. The announcement of Seventh Woods transferring is surprising, but will free up minutes for the Tar Heels' other guards.

Rising senior Brandon Robinson will likely start on the wing. In three years at UNC, he's shot 37.9 percent from 3-point range and will be perhaps the team's top option from deep next season. Expect him to get significantly more playing time in his last year in Chapel Hill - he averaged 11.9 minutes per game as a junior.

Rising junior Garrison Brooks will join Bacot to anchor the paint. The two project as a fitting pair down low - Brooks as a defensive-minded big man who cleans up on the glass, Bacot as an offensive post threat with nice hands and soft touch around the rim.

Coming off the bench, expect Francis, Sterling Manley, Andrew Platek and Brandon Huffman to all contribute meaningful minutes.

Make no mistake: the heavy lifting is done. In Anthony, Roy Williams landed the big fish, one who will likely excel in the college ranks and help carry North Carolina along the way. Any new Tar Heel from here on out should be treated as a bonus.

@rwilcox_

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[Rising senior guard Seventh Woods to transfer from UNC basketball]]> Seventh Woods will transfer from North Carolina, the rising senior guard announced on his Instagram on Thursday afternoon.

In his post, Woods thanked his UNC coaches, teammates and everyone who helped him "overcome the struggles throughout (his) college career." Woods did not write of any possible transfer destinations in his announcement.

The four-star recruit from Columbia, South Carolina, played in 94 games over three seasons at UNC. He averaged a career-high 2.5 points and 2.1 assists per game as a junior, serving as the Tar Heels' backup point guard behind Coby White.

"I wouldn't go back and change any decision I've made but I do feel like it's time for a change," Woods wrote on Instagram, "with that being said I plan on finishing my academic and basketball career elsewhere."

As a first-year in 2017, Woods played in all 40 games for a North Carolina team that went 33-7 and won the national championship. As a sophomore, he was hampered by a stress fracture in his foot and played in just 20 games.

"My three years here at UNC has been nothing short of amazing," Woods said on Instagram. "Two regular season championships, a National Championship and group of brothers that I would cherish for life."

Heading into his junior season, Woods was a candidate for UNC's starting point guard position. He lost that spot to White, a first-year who is now a likely lottery pick in this summer's NBA Draft, and averaged 10.8 minutes per game off the bench.

Woods - whose Hoopmixtape drew him national attention at age 14 - would have entered the 2019-20 season once again pressed for playing time. On Monday, five-star combo guard Cole Anthony committed to North Carolina. Hours later, four-star guard Anthony Harris also announced his commitment to the Tar Heels.

With Woods' transfer, six UNC players on the 2018-19 team that reached the Sweet 16 won't be back this fall. Seniors Kenny Williams and Luke Maye graduated, graduate transfer Cameron Johnson used his final year of eligibility and White and Nassir Little, both first-years, declared for the NBA Draft.

"I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and the best is yet to come!" Woods said on Instagram.

@chapelfowler

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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<![CDATA[Four-star guard Anthony Harris joins Cole Anthony in committing to UNC]]> Tuesday has been kind to the North Carolina men's basketball team.

To start the day, five-star combo guard Cole Anthony announced on ESPN's Get Up that he was committing to UNC for the 2019-2020 season. The son of former NBA veteran Greg Anthony was named the MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game and won co-MVP honors at the Jordan Brand Classic. Anthony played his senior season at Virginia's Oak Hill Academy.

Hours later, the day got even better for head coach Roy Williams when four-star guard Anthony Harris announced he would join Anthony in Chapel Hill next season in a post via Twitter with the caption, "Let's do it!!"

"Anthony's a remarkable young man," Williams said in a team release Tuesday night. "I love his toughness and competitiveness. A team can never have enough of these qualities. We are very fortunate to have a player of his caliber join our program. His parents (Anthony Sr. and Meecsha Harris) have done a great job raising him and Coach Farello has done a tremendous job coaching him at Paul VI. He's a great addition to our program."


Harris originally committed to Virginia Tech on Nov. 19, 2018, but his plans changed once head coach Buzz Williams left for Texas A&M. On April 4, Harris announced he would open his recruitment back up in a post via Twitter.

"Congratulations to Coach Buzz on his new position," Harris said in the post. "Although I will still consider Virginia Tech, in order to fully weigh all my options I have decided to reopen my recruitment."

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard from Fairfax, Va., is the No. 65 recruit in 247Sports' composite rankings and the No. 8 combo guard in the class. As a senior for Paul VI Catholic High School, Harris missed the majority of the season after tearing his left ACL on Dec. 1 in a win over the St. Frances Academy.

Harris played with fellow UNC recruit Armando Bacot Jr., on Nike's Team Takeover, a squad based in the Washington D.C. area that won the Nike Peach Jam last summer. Harris averaged 8.2 points and 2.5 assists and proved to be a threat from outside, hitting 21 of 48 3-pointers.

UNC now has four commitments for the 2019-2020 season and the class checks in at No. 6 on 247Sports' team rankings. Anthony and Bacot are both five-star recruits and point guard Jeremiah Francis is a three-star recruit from Pickerington, Ohio.

The three first-year guards will join a crowded North Carolina backcourt that includes rising seniors Seventh Woods and Brandon Robinson and rising junior Andrew Platek.

@christrenkle2

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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