Projecting North Carolina basketball's starting lineup for the 2021-22 season
The start of the Hubert Davis era in Chapel Hill is almost here.
North Carolina’s expectations are tempered a bit (relatively speaking) in Davis’ first year, but the Tar Heels have a veteran squad that should be competitive in the ACC this season.
KenPom’s preseason rankings have North Carolina pegged at No. 40 nationally, which is good enough for No. 6 in the ACC.
Here’s a projected starting lineup for Davis’ first season at the helm:
Point guard: Caleb Love
The former 5-star guard is hoping to have a much-improved sophomore season. He struggled at times as a freshman, shooting just 31.6 percent from the field. But the Tar Heels need his upside if they’re going to accomplish their goals in Davis’ first season. Leaky Black is a candidate to fill-in as a reserve, but he averaged just 5.6 points in 27.6 minutes per game last season.
Shooting guard: RJ Davis
Davis is also an option to be the lead ball-handler for UNC, which is a role he held in high school. The Tar Heels could chose to stagger him and Love at point guard without many other options on the roster. Davis averaged 8.4 points and 1.9 assists for North Carolina last season, mostly in a bench role.
Small forward: Kerwin Walton
Walton was an exceptional shooter for the Tar Heels last season, hitting 42 percent of his 3-point attempts. His ability to space the floor is likely reason enough for him to start, but it will be interesting to see if he can show off other facets of his game as a sophomore.
Power forward: Brady Manek
Speaking of shooting, Manek is excellent in that area as well. The former Sooner arrives as one of the most prolific sharpshooters in Oklahoma history after nailing 235 3-pointers across four seasons. He’s fifth all-time in that regard, and also averaged 5.6 rebounds per game for OU. Marquette transfer Dawson Garcia is also a candidate to play a lot of minutes in this role, and could end up being the primary starter.
Center: Armando Bacot
Bacot is perhaps UNC’s most proven player entering the 2021-22 season. He averaged 12.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season, and added nearly 1 block per game as well. With players like Garrison Brooks, Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler moving on, Bacot should be in for a big increase in role and production this year.
North Carolina opens its season with Loyola (MD) on Nov. 9.