UNC Basketball: Transfer Portal Primer Part 1


With UNC’s decision not to compete in the NIT, college basketball season is officially over for tar heel fans (except for the fact that Duke and NC State lose in the NCAA tournament). The focus of Hubert Davis and his employees is the transfer portal that opened on Monday. There are two things to watch out for: entrances and exits.

It’s a new facet of college basketball for fans to watch. For all the excitement when a Brady Manek or Pete Nance walks in, there’s always the sting when a Walker Kessler or Kerwin Walton leaves. But since the portal is a part of the competitive landscape, Tar Heel fans had better embrace it, as it can make or break a team.

Here are the players who will have some business decisions to make for next season, starting with the seniors and juniors. In the next post later today we look at the sophomores and freshmen.

  • Justin McKoy: (Entered the transfer portal on Monday) The Virginia transfer saw a drop in games played (30 last season, just 11 this season) and total minutes (209 to 59). That’s a pretty steep drop. Hubert Davis doesn’t play long bench, but that’s… drastic. His entry into the portal comes as no surprise.
  • Armando Bacot: An interesting dilemma. Armando Bacot has experienced breathtaking highs and breathtaking lows during his four years with Carolina. He has achieved individual excellence and set school records for rebounds and double-doubles. Expectations for this season may have been misplaced, but UNC should have been a tournament team, so their final year will feel like a disappointment.

So why come back? As Fitzgerald pointed out, the past cannot be reconstructed. This season reinforces that fact, but you can create a new path forward. Bacot, when healthy, is a unique force in college basketball. If he can heal his ankles and shoulders and try again, this time surrounded by capable marksmen, who would stop him?

Also, he could potentially make more money from his NIL deals (I’m writing this post right now in a pair of Crocs I bought after learning that Armando became a spokesman for the sandal brand) than he does in the NBA as he currently can’t is intended to be designed in the latest mocks. This is a decision that needs to be closely monitored.

  • Puff Johnson: Puff saw an increase in games played (24 to 27), minutes per game (10.4 to 15.9), and points per game (3.1 to…4.1). If Puff isn’t happy with the minutes he’s received this season, it really is his own fault. His rebounding only went from 2.0 to 2.7 per game, not enough with the increased ground time. His shooting also suffered from the ground and free-throw line, although his 3-point percentage rose, but only to 28.3%, hardly instilling Hubert Davis with confidence.

Puff has suffered from injuries since arriving at Chapel Hill and has missed time this season with knee pain. If he needs surgery or takes an extended rest period, it could be beneficial to his basketball career in the long run. Switching and starting from scratch at another school where he would immediately have to fight for playtime is probably not the best move at the moment. I would expect him to stay and hopefully he can stabilize the wing and drive depth forward.

  • RJ Davis: What did his dislocated fingers cost us??!! RJ was in serious form to wrap up the season, hitting 53.3% of his 3-pointers in the last five games of the season, coinciding with the removal of the finger wraps on his shooting hand.

I don’t expect RJ to seriously consider leaving. RJ is too small to be a serious NBA threat as an early adopter, and Hubert Davis is too trusting to be benched. That’s not a bad thing for him or Carolina.

  • Creighton Lebo: The guy’s not going anywhere. we can chill
  • Caleb love: Unfortunately, it looks like it could end sadly for everyone involved.

Online hate and frustration over this season have boiled over, and while every player and coach has contributed to Carolina’s shortcomings, most of the discontent has been focused on Caleb. Yesterday, he essentially deleted his Instagram profile from everything UNC-related and shut down his Twitter account:

If Caleb leaves to either turn pro or switch (there are rumors of Mizzou in the mix, Caleb is from St. Louis), I’ll understand. It’s probably best for everyone involved if he starts fresh somewhere else. Caleb might have been an odd match for Carolina, but he will always be remembered for the lasting memory of this iconic image:

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

We will look at the sophomores and first year students in our next post. Early spoilers, Tyler Nickel is already in the transfer portal. Hold your butt.

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