North Carolina freshman Dontrez Styles is becoming an important player for the Tar Heels down the stretch.

Styles has played in just 18 games this season, but his playing time increased significantly in UNC’s win over Florida State last week. He played a season-high 16 minutes and scored 8 points.

North Carolina’s depth has been tested with the absences of Anthony Harris (injury) and Dawson Garcia (family illness).

For example, in North Carolina’s win over Louisville on Feb. 1, the Tar Heels bench unit scored 0 points in 21 total minutes. The Tar Heels have instead been leaning on their starting lineup.

But Styles brings an element of energy and athleticism that really helps UNC, especially on the defensive end. His 8 points vs. the Seminoles were also a season-high.

“Dontrez’s athleticism, his energy on both ends of the floor, was very impressive,” Hubert Davis said after the Florida State game.

Styles was a 4-star prospect and the No. 66 overall player in the class of 2021, according to 247Sports Composite rankings. The North Carolina native was the top-ranked player in Hubert Davis’ inaugural recruiting class.

It will be interesting to see if Styles’ playing time continues to tick up. North Carolina is still fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth and will need to continue taking care of business for the rest of the regular season.

UNC faces Pitt at home on Wednesday.