North Carolina basketball roster: Predicted starting lineup, bench rotation, depth outlook for 2022-23 season

As recently as mid-February, it looked uncertain whether North Carolina would even qualify for the 2022 NCAA Tournament, let alone be positioned to make a deep run. But the Tar Heels turned it on in coach Hubert Davis’ first season and made an unlikely run to the national title game as the No. 8 seed.

Now, with four of five starters returning from this team, expectations for UNC are sky high as the dust settles on college basketball’s offseason player movement cycle. North Carolina sits second in Gary Parrish’s Top 25 and 1, and will likely be favored to win the ACC over rival Duke, which will have seven true freshmen under new coach Jon Scheyer.

While the core of North Carolina players seem settled, led by household names such as Caleb Love and Armando Bacot, there are still questions about the composition of the roster. The Tar Heels ranked 348th out of 358 teams nationally last season in bench minutes, according to KenPom, but Davis filled all 13 purses for the upcoming season.

Will the sophomore coach find a way to get more substantial contributions from those not on the starting roster as he welcomes the nation’s No. 11 recruiting class to campus? Here’s a look at how the Tar Heels roster — and a potential rotation — jostles with a roster that looks settled.

Projected starting composition

1. Caleb Love

6-4 | 195 | Jr.

After a disappointing first season, Love made great strides in sophomore year and began to live up to his five-star prospect billing. His legendary 27-point second-half outburst against UCLA in the Sweet 16 helped propel the Tar Heels into their Final Four run. He followed that up with 27 against Duke as UNC secured a spot in the national title game. Love still has room to grow by becoming more effective offensively, and another jump will put him in contention for first-team All-ACC honors.

2. RJ Davis

6-0 | 160 | Jr.

Davis also had a solid run in his sophomore season, averaging 13.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game while starting all 39 UNC competitions. He and Love are a dynamic one-two punch offensively, as both can make the offense easier or explode for a scoring run of their own. If either or both can become lockdown defenders as juniors, that would go a long way to helping UNC reach its full potential after the Tar Heels struggled defensively at times last season.

3. Leaky Black

6-8 | 195 | Sr.

Although offensively insignificant in a starting lineup full of goal threats, Black again proved his worth last season as the Tar Heels’ best perimeter defender. Now back for his fifth season with 122 career games already under his belt, Black should once again serve as the ultimate player for UNC.

4. Pete Nance

6-10 | 225 | Sr.

Nance appears to be the best candidate to fill the starting job vacated by Brady Manek, who shot 40.3% from 3-point range as a graduate transfer from Oklahoma in his only season with the Tar Heels. Like Manek, Nance is an extended power forward and transfer graduate with plenty of top-level experience under his belt. He shot a career-best 45.2 percent from 3-point range for Northwestern last season, though he only attempted 3.1 per game compared to Manek’s 6.2 with the Tar Heels.

5. Armand Bacot

6-10 | 240 | Sr.

Luckily for North Carolina, the NBA draft has little appetite for traditional big men who specialize in bruising on the block. Because of that reality, it only made sense for Bacot to return for his senior season and make a run for ACC Player of the Year. He finished second in voting last season while leading the Tar Heels in points (16.3), rebounds (13.1), blocks (1.7) and field goal percentage (56.9). %). He was a third-team CBS Sports All-American and should only get better on that designation as he gives Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe competition for the best big man in the country.

Bench

Dontrez Styles

6-6 | 210 | So.

Styles logged just 5.8 minutes per game as a true freshman, but showed potential at times, like when he played a whopping 25 minutes in UNC’s second-round win over Baylor in the NCAA Tournament. His offensive game needs to be refined, but he can help the Tar Heels as a defender and rebounder with his size and athleticism.

Johnson puff

6-8 | 205 | Jr.

He’s the younger brother of former UNC sniper and current Phoenix Suns wing Cam Johnson, and it’s reasonable to compare their skills due to their similar frames and strengths. Cam was a late college kid who broke out as a junior at Pitt before transferring to North Carolina for his final two seasons. A similar jump in a junior year is unlikely for Puff due to the excess depth on the Tar Heels roster, but his 11-point exit from the bench in the national title game boded well for his chances of carving out a more stable role. this season.

Justin Mc Koy

6-8 | 220 | Sr.

McKoy appeared in 30 games for North Carolina last season after being traded the next two seasons as a role player to Virginia. His contributions have been minimal, but he’s a veteran who can help in the frontcourt when foul or injured.

D’Marco Dunn

6-4 | 185 | So.

Dunn has made occasional appearances on the floor as a proper freshman and is expected to be in line for a bigger role after the departures of fellow reserve guards Anthony Harris and Kerwin Walton. The former four-star prospect just needs a bit of running to get comfortable and find a rhythm.

Seth Trimble

6-3 | 185 | Prof.

As the No. 29 player overall in the Class of 2022, according to 247Sports, Trimble is the highest-ranked incoming recruit at UNC and will have a chance to break the rotation early. While Love and Davis have locked roles, Trimble should be able to match Dunn for minutes off the bench as a combo guard who can play with or without the ball.

Depth

Go Shave | 6-10 | 265 | r-Fr.
Jalen Washington | 6-9 | 210 | Prof.
Tyler Nickel | 6-8 | 210 | Prof.

Shaver is a former three-star prospect who signed up midway through last season. He brings good size, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s still a season away from competing for a regular role. Washington is a true four-star freshman with tremendous length that could become the program’s extension into the future. For now, he is working after knee injuries that plagued him in high school. Nickel is a bit of a wild card with positional versatility and a smooth offensive game. Any of the three could play on the pitch, but due to their youth and the experience ahead of them, they seem more likely to spend the next season in development.

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