The new-look UNC Basketball led by first-year Head Coach, Hubert Davis have had some games with fans on the edge of their seats and some games with fans with their heads in their hands… it sure has been fun though!
Eight games into the 2021/22 season, you may have thought there would have been more to report on, but with Coach Davis’ small rotation as of late, that’s not been the case. We have seen 7 or 8 guys plenty, but the deep squad we have has meant some players have been hard to grade.
A quarter the way through the season, here are my grades for the current UNC Basketball Team after eight games:
Subscribe to The Tar Heel Show on YouTube for podcast episodes with former UNC basketball players.
Caleb Love – B+
Caleb has shown on numerous occasions this season that he can carry this team if he has to. Love was voted a Team Captain in his Sophomore Year, the first time this has happened since the 2013/14 season with Marcus Paige.
Caleb is one of the most exciting players we’ve had in recent years when it comes to a fast break, it gives me Russell Westbrook vibes when no one is in his way… heck, even when someone is and he will still make a poster. I’m expecting more posters made by Love this year.
Love shined in the Michigan game with 22 points and we all know he can score. There were concerns last season with his ball-handling and the number of turnovers, Love has quietened down that worry with no more than 2 turnovers per game over the past 4 games. UNC play so fast, turnovers will happen… one or two.
Caleb did have a quiet game this season against Asheville, but UNC’s starting guard is averaging 16.2 PPG through eight games and racking up some assists too.
I’m excited for Caleb this season and really do think he will push himself into an All-ACC 2nd Team, maybe even 1st Team… I’ve set you my challenge Caleb!
Leaky Black – B
My guy… I said from the get-go that this is Leaky’s year and I took a lot of heat on social media for it. A Leaky Black type of player is the missing piece to the puzzle. Watch him talk to his teammates, push teammates into certain defensive positions and everything that doesn’t show up in the box score.
Where does it show that Black shut down one of the leading scorers in the country last game? It doesn’t. In my latest episode on The Tar Heel Show with James McAdoo, we spoke about Leaky and he said “the criticism he receives isn’t from anyone who knows basketball”. Leaky Black might not officially be a captain on this team, but he is showing lots of leadership qualities and showing everyone why he deserves to be in the starting lineup and averaging over 25 MPG.
Leaky is still not an offensive threat, which I understand frustrates people, therefore you can see players not passing it to him when he’s open for three. Although, I have been impressed with Leaky when he drives inside and I do believe that through the season and confidence, shots will fall.
I expect to see Black in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future as he is bringing strengths to the team, that not many others are right now.
Armando Bacot – A-
THE leader on the team this season, the keys were given to Mando at the start of the season and he has not disappointed. Tar Heel fans have been excited by the new-look threats from outside the arc, but Bacot has been dominating inside!
Armando now has five double-doubles through the first eight games, which is the most since Brice Johnson. Defensively Bacot has averaged 1.8 blocks per game too, he really is doing it on both ends.
Like Caleb, Bacot had one very quiet game and that was against Purdue. From what I saw that game though, Purdue could go all the way.
Bacot is averaging 0.64 FG% and in Coach Davis’ new style, Mando has all the room to destroy people on the low block and he’s even shooting with some confidence from a little further out. I believe you will see Armando on the All-ACC 1st Team this year.
RJ Davis – B+
If you follow me on social media, you will know I am a huge RJ Davis fan, I will compare him with the likes of Marcus Paige and Joel Berry… this guy is going to be a household name in the state of North Carolina… and he has not disappointed me yet.
RJ was also voted a Team Captain during his Sophomore Year and has been leading the UNC back-court alongside Love. UNC is playing with two main ball handlers, Davis and Love. We wondered how the rotation would be but they are playing together more often than not.
Davis has been heating up from deep. At Late Night in HD, we saw RJ knock down lots to whet our appetite and now RJ’s got the green light and has hit some very big three-pointers for the Tar Heels. Davis is averaging over 50% on three-pointers and has made 18 already this season.
Turnovers are the main concern for Davis after picking up quite a few over the last four games. I think RJ is more confident on the ball this year and his handling of pressure will get better and his passing decisions will improve.
RJ Davis is going to put a lot of smiles on UNC fans this year, you wait and see.
Brady Manek – B+
Everyone keeps saying… why only one year Brady, why!? Brady Manek might be everyone’s favourite Tar Heel. He has shown great abilities on the court and great maturity off of it in his post-game interviews.
Tar Heel Nation have been crying out for a Stretch-Four and boy have they got one now. Super-Senior Manek has been lighting it up from outside, none more than against Tennessee with 6 from downtown. It’s not just his outside scoring that has impressed, his footwork inside has been marvellous, Brady is proving to everyone he is a dual-threat offensively.
Manek has not started since the first game with Dawson Garcia taking his place, but Manek has averaged more minutes than Garcia through the first eight games. Of course, the starting lineup is important but that final lineup when the game is close is the one I’m looking at.
We need to enjoy this year of Brady Manek and I have a feeling the Bearded Bucket Getter (Jawad Williams’ words not mine) will give us plenty of memories.
Dawson Garcia – B-
Potentially the greatest acquisition from NCAA Transfer Portal this summer, Dawson Garcia. Dawson was voted in the Big East All-Freshman Team, then declared for the NBA Draft last season, but ultimately decided to join the Tar Heels.
There is no denying the talent of Garcia and Coach Davis has shown his faith in him too, by making him a permanent fixture in the starting lineup over the last seven games. The 6’11 forward adds so much offensive threat to UNC, from inside-out.
Dawson dropped 26 in the game against Purdue (the game Bacot was quiet). It was great to see another forward step up if it’s not working out for another big that game. Garcia has knocked down 8 three-pointers this season already and is not afraid to pull up if he’s given the room.
Garcia only played for 13 minutes and didn’t put up many numbers in the last game against Georgia Tech. Although, Garcia has impressed through the first quarter of the season and I am enjoying how the rotation of Bacot, Manek and Garcia is working.
I personally would like to see more from Garcia defensively and for us to not rely on Mando being the only clean-up guy inside.
Kerwin Walton – C
I don’t know what is going on. Our best three-point scorer hasn’t scored from behind the arc in four games. Kerwin Walton was being predicted as the guy who will shine in this UNC team and become our best outside scorer.
Shooters get in slumps and that is what Kerwin is in. Get him a couple of makes in the next game and that could be the confidence boost he needs. We still believe in him and want to see KW shine!
Walton is not bringing the same level of defensive intensity at the moment compared to the back-court of Caleb and RJ and the main wing, Leaky.
It’s a slump, he can shake it off!
Anthony Harris – C+
From what I have seen, I’ve been impressed with Anthony Harris. He performed well against Georgia Tech and helped Leaky with the assignment of Devoe.
Harris is only averaging eight minutes per game in this very deep squad. Anthony is now in his third year at UNC, after red-shirting his Freshman Year, I am hoping to see the leader in Harris come out this season.
Justin McKoy – C+
North Carolina Native, Justin McKoy transferred to UNC from ACC Rival Virginia this summer and has found himself on a very talented deep squad. We have yet to see McKoy break into the rotation as of yet.
Personally, I see many comparisons between himself and Leaky Black in their style of play, but I know from tapes that McKoy has got some bounce, sadly we haven’t seen it yet.
Justin is still very young and I do see him stepping up more next season, but I am interested in seeing what he can provide this current Tar Heel Team.
Dontrez Styles – NEEDS EXTRA CREDIT
GET DONTREZ INTO THE GAME!!!
That is every Tar Heel fans wish currently because we have yet to see Styles properly after only playing 11 minutes so far. The potential is there, I’m excited when we get to see the fruits of it.
Come on Coach, let the kid play!
D’Marco Dunn – NEEDS EXTRA CREDIT
Just like Dontrez, we have only seen Dunn play for 6 minutes this season.
D’Marco is an exciting young guard and I personally would like to see him in the game more when we’ve taken a large lead.
Coach Hubert Davis – B+
Eight games into the Head Coaching career of Coach Hubert Davis and I am content.
UNC are 6-2 and 1-0 in ACC. Those two losses came from Purdue, potential NCAA Champions and a ranked Tennessee side.
Coach Davis has implemented his style of the Carolina Way, continuing the cultures of UNC with a modern twist. I like his press conferences and he’s saying the right things.
I am surprised by his rotation currently and would like to see more of McKoy and Styles on the floor. I believe with the NCAA Transfer Portal now, a big role of Coach Davis is going to keep players happy and manage that.
I am proud to have Coach Davis as our Head Coach.
Next up, Elon and Furman should be two blow-out wins and a real test for Coach Davis and the Tar Heels against UCLA on December 18th.
I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS UPDATE ON THE CURRENT TAR HEELS, FOR THE MOST UP-TO-DATE NEWS, FOLLOW @BRITISHTARHEEL ON TWITTER.
Have you listened to The Tar Heel Show? It’s a podcast with former UNC basketball players talking about their time in Chapel Hill and so much more.
The latest episode is with James McAdoo and he talks about the current 2021/22 basketball season, as well as looking back on his UNC Basketball career, his NBA Championships and playing overseas. Watch the episode below:
Follow @britishtarheel on Twitter for all the updates on Tar Heels Basketball and subscribe to Tar Heel International.