2022 postseason run ‘lit a fire’ for UNC men’s basketball’s upcoming season

Entering the locker room with a 15-point increase after the first half of the 2022 NCAA Championships, it looked like the North Carolina men’s basketball team was on the cusp of the unthinkable. The same team that was considered a bubble team earlier in the season was now just 20 minutes away from the NCAA title.

But with the match clock running out, Tar Heel fans across the country fell silent. The #1 ranked Kansas Jayhawks put an end to the unlikely North Carolina race, rallying in the second inning to defeat UNC 72-69.

UNU’s “Iron Five” starting lineup, consisting of transfer graduate Brady Mannick, senior Leaky Black, junior Armando Bacot, and sophomores RJ Davis and Caleb Love, led the team throughout the race. Outside, questions arose about who would stay and who would leave for the NBA draft.

Questions were answered in April, starting with Bacot’s announcement that he will return for the graduation season on April 13. general. In the following weeks, RJ Davis and Love also chose to come back and play for another year with coach Hubert Davis.

“RJ, Caleb, Leaky, Armando, the older guys, all the returning guys, what they’ve gone through last year has set them all on fire for more experiences like this,” Hubert Davis said at a press conference on June 15.

Four of the five starters back, North Carolina heads into the 2022-2023 season that has ranked first in some of the pre-season rankings. Bacot, Black, Love and RJ Davis make up one of the most successful groups to return to college basketball, making UNC a strong contender for this year’s national title.

Outside of freshmen returning to UNC, the Hubert Davis staff recently added Northwestern Pete Nance’s transfer. Nance has been one of the most sought-after names in the transfer window, and his size and shooting ability make him a great alternative to Maneke. Rookie Buff Johnson and rookie sophomore Dontrez Styles may also help fill the gap left by Manek’s departure.

Experience is definitely something the Tar Heels won’t be lacking in next season. Aside from the four returning players, Johnson, Styles, and other players from this year’s squad have played in some big games all season. First-year Redshirt Will Schaeffer, who has opted to sign up for UNC and join the mid-season squad, will be eligible to play this fall and is already aware of the pressures of high-performance situations thanks to the UNC Championship taking place in New Orleans.

“The benefit that Will personally got from this experience I am very happy with,” Hubert Davis said. “He’s in a great place now because he came early.”

Upcoming 4-star recruit Seth Trimble, while new to the college scene, also has his fair share of big games, taking home the gold for Team USA at the 2022 FIBA ​​U18 Americas Championships.

Trimble and Shaver, along with the coming early years of Tyler Nickel and Jalen Washington, will provide depth for a shallow rotation of UNC dominated by the “Iron Five”.

“The five who played a lot in the last year, especially towards the end of the year, determined that by playing them in practice every day. And that was confirmed by their playing in the games,” said Hubert Davis.

Next year Hubert Davis would like to play more on the bench but says no place is guaranteed.

“I want there to be more rotation, but I won’t give people time to play,” he said. “I’ll give everyone a chance.”

With outstanding recruits and a solid core return, North Carolina has a strong case for a comeback season complete with a national title.

“The thing I love about our team right now is the hunger, the thirst and the desire,” Hubert Davies said. “It comes from the returning players, what they experienced last year, and then the novelty of the new student who was really excited. So putting that together, I think we’re in a good place.”


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