UNC basketball is suddenly a contender for the 2019-20 season.
In the span of a few weeks, Roy Williams has rebuilt his roster to make the Tar Heels a major threat heading into next season. Williams has done so in a way that seemingly goes against his recruiting philosophy: by bringing in one-and-done recruits and graduate transfers.
UNC lost seniors Luke Maye, Cam Johnson and Kenny Williams to graduation this offseason, as well as freshmen Coby White and Nassir Little to the NBA Draft.
But not long after UNC’s loss to Auburn in the NCAA Tournament and those departures were made official, the Tar Heels received a commitment from five-star guard Cole Anthony. Widely considered a one-and-done prospect, Anthony is expected to take over White’s point guard role in UNC’s offense and be an immediate starter.
Four-star guard Anthony Harris committed to North Carolina just hours after Anthony’s commitment. When paired with Anthony and five-star center Armando Bacot, this gave UNC both immediate help and building blocks for the future.
Suddenly, the projections for the 2019-20 season weren’t looking so bad.
But Bacot, who has been busy recruiting others to join him in Chapel Hill, proclaimed that the Tar Heels were not done on the recruiting trail. True to Bacot’s word, graduate transfers Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce joined in on the fun and both committed to play for North Carolina next season.
So in the span of a few weeks, UNC has gone from losing its top five scorers to being filled with talented players for the 2019-20 season.
While Duke and Mike Krzyzewski are more famous for their one-and-done philosophy, UNC has seen its share of early draft entrants in recent years. Along with White and Little this season, Tony Bradley was a one-and-done player for UNC after the 2016-17 season.
When combined with Anthony’s likely one-and-done status after this upcoming season, that will give Williams four one-and-done players in the span of four years. Schools like Duke will hit higher numbers in that category, but Williams’ willingness to approach this recruiting strategy speaks to the changing landscape of college basketball and Williams’ ability to adapt.
Bringing in graduate transfers to play for a single season also ties in to this approach. Johnson transferred from Pittsburgh was an All-ACC performer for the Tar Heels, but he was on campus for two seasons. Keeling and Pierce each have one year in Chapel Hill and, when combined with Anthony, gives UNC three likely departures after next season.
Does this signify that Williams is all in on winning a title during the 2019-20 season? Perhaps, but it also gives players like Harris and Leaky Black time to develop instead of being thrust into action too early in their careers.
So while landing graduate transfers and one-and-done players makes Carolina a contender for next season, it also means that the Tar Heels are building for the future.