UNC basketball players return next season


North Carolina’s Armando Bacot (5) and RJ Davis (4) react after a field goal from Brady Manek to give the Tar Heels a 56-38 second-half lead over Baylor on Saturday, March 19, 2022 during the NCAA Tournament at Dickies Arena at Ft. Worth, TX.


North Carolina’s surprising run through the NCAA Tournament came to an end Monday night.

The No. 8 seeded Tar Heels fell to Kansas, 72-69, in the national title game.

UNC rode on the backs of its stars to New Orleans. Now, how many of these stars are returning for 2022-23?

No player has announced any future plans yet, but it’s never too early to take a look at what the roster might look like next season.

Did Caleb Love and Armando Bacot’s postseason run increase their NBA draft stock? Did Brady Manek make his way to drawing boards? And which first-year player will have an immediate impact?

Which UNC players enter the NBA draft?

UNC’s brightest stars at the end of the season are Love, Bacot and Manek. It’s no coincidence that the trio have appeared on a few fictional drafts, though none of the three appear to be projected first-round picks.

Bacot, a junior and the team’s leading scorer (16.3 ppg) and rebounder (13.1 per game), shows up in the second round of some mock drafts. NBADraft.net has Bacot ranked 48th overall for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

another website, www.nbadraftroom.comhas the 6-foot-10 Bacot in the second round for the Sacramento Kings.

Love (16.0 ppg) averaged 20 ppg in the NCAA Tournament heading into Monday’s game against the Jayhawks. A sophomore combo guard, Love (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) thrived in March playing off the ball. NBADraft.net has Love ranked 33rd overall for the Indiana Pacers.

Manek (15.2 ppg) has scored in double digits in every NCAA Tournament game. NBADraft.net ranks Manek 46th overall for the Detroit Pistons.

North Carolinas Armando Bacot (5), Caleb Love (2) and RJ Davis (4) celebrate the Tar Heels for an 81-77 win over Duke in the NCAA Final Four semifinal on Saturday, April 2 2022 at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

Returning seniors?

Leaky Black could return thanks to a COVID year. Black participated in senior nighttime activity against Syracuse on Feb. 28. Black hasn’t officially announced his plans for 2022-23, but his veteran leadership and ability to fill out stat sheets would be welcomed by Hubert Davis. Black has started 96 games in his college career.

Manek also participated in senior night activities at UNC’s Smith Center. After playing four seasons in Oklahoma, Manek cannot return to Chapel Hill for another season.

Who enters ?

Davis added three four-star recruits to its 2023 class: point guard Seth Trimble, center Jalen Washington and forward Tyler Nickel make up the No. 3 recruiting class in the ACC, according to 247Sports. The trio have the UNC class ranked No. 11 in the country.

Trimble is the younger brother of former Tar Heels forward JP Tokoto. Trimble may have the opportunity to see the court sooner rather than later. If Love leaves, that would mean RJ Davis would be the primary returning ball handler. Davis and Love shared point guard duties for most of the season. Trimble could step in right away and help rotate the guard.

Besides, Will Shaver, a 6-10 center who was part of the 2022 recruiting class but didn’t sign up until January, will help the team in the job. He is not expected to be an immediate starter.

Who could see their minutes increase?

Donrez Styles saw his roles increase later in the year. Davis began to deepen his bench during the NCAA Tournament, playing more second Puff Johnson once back from injury, and Kinston rookie Styles.

The on-the-spot work Styles has seen, especially with a season-high 25 under against defending champion Baylor in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, will only boost his confidence heading into next season. He scored a season-high nine points in that game.

Speaking of Johnson, who had 11 points and 6 rebounds in 18 minutes against Kansas, a full offseason could propel him into the starting lineup a year from now, depending on who returns. He only played the last 15 games of his first season and only played in January last season. Justin McKoy is the other reserve who played significant minutes in the playoffs. The Virginia transfer could continue this momentum next year and play a key role.

2021-22 UNC Basketball Roster

No. name pos. Height Weight Year Hometown
0 Anthony Harris g 6-4 195 R-So. Woodbridge, Virginia.
1 leaky black F 6-8 200 Sr. Concorde
2 Caleb Love g 6-4 195 So. Saint Louis, Mo.
3 Dontrez Styles G/F 6-6 210 Prof. kingston
4 RD Davis g 6-0 175 So. White Plains, NY
5 Armand Bacot F/C 6-10 240 Jr. Richmond, Virginia.
11 D’Marco Dunn g 6-4 185 Prof. Tucson, Arizona.
13 Dawson Garcia F 6-11 235 So. Prior Lake, Minn.
14 Johnson Puff g 6-8 205 So. Moon Township, Pennsylvania.
15 Robert Landry g 6-4 195 So. Greensboro
21 Go Shave F 6-10 265 Prof. Birmingham, Alabama.
22 Justin Mc Koy F 6-8 220 Jr. Raleigh
24 Kerwin Walton g 6-5 210 So. Hopkins, Minnesota.
25 Creighton Lebo g 6-1 170 So. Greenville
30 Jackson Watkins g 6-1 175 Jr. Richmond, Virginia.
34 Duwe Farris F 6-6 215 Jr. Charlotte
35 Ryan McAdoo F 6-5 210 R-Sr. Boca Raton, Florida.
45 Brady Manek F 6-9 230 Gr. Harra, Okla.

This story was originally published April 4, 2022 11:45 p.m.

Sportswriter Jonas Pope IV covered college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central, NC State and the ACC for The Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.

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