Next season, basketball’s prospects look bright not because of newcomers but because the mainstays are staying.
Armando Bacot stated he was returning for his senior season on Wednesday. Then yesterday, Leaky Black joined the parade and announced he was returning for a fifth bonus season.
Leaky and Armando are two critical pieces for Hubert Davis to keep last season’s momentum going. At least from February 19th until the end of the season, when UNC shook the shame of the Pitt loss off and got cooking.
Carolina has some freshmen coming in that are dripping with potential. UNC’s 2022 recruiting class—point guard Seth Trimble, center Jalen Washington, and wing Tyler Nickel—is ranked 12th in the nation and 3rd in the ACC by 247 Sports. But, right now, none of those players are necessarily needed to plug any holes in the roster, at least not immediately.
With just Caleb Love left to decide his future, Hubert Davis is sitting pretty. His most enormous hole is Brady Manek-sized. However, he has an exciting mix of players that may be able to bridge the gap. What Davis has in spades with his returning roster is experience. Every year, so many preseason headlines are which teams have the best high school recruits that can potentially be one-and-done. Of course, there’s no shame in that every school wants them. But do they help you get to college basketball’s holy grail?
There’s plenty of competition for places. There are established starters to mentor the underclassmen, and the first- and second-year students will battle each other to be the first name called from the bench. Nevertheless, it’s a team built to win now, with players that can bridge into the next era.