#44 North Carolina Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels

Overall Rank: #44
Conference Rank: #6 ACC
#44 North Carolina Women's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview
North Carolina Team Page


A handful of transfers have left North Carolina a shell of their former selves. A year ago they were able to deal with the transfer of Diamond DeShields and reach the NCAA Tournament as a #4 seed. They even reached the Sweet Sixteen and ended the year with a 26-9 overall record. That is not bad at all, even by UNC standards. This year will be different though. The Tar Heels have just eight players on their roster eligible to play this season. Coach Sylvia Hatchell has taken UNC to 13 NCAA Tournaments in the last 14 years, but this group is in danger of missing out.

2014-15 Record: 26-9, 10-6
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Sylvia Hatchell
Coach Record: 689-259 at North Carolina, 961-339 overall

Despite the mass exodus out of Chapel Hill, there is still some talent here. Xylina McDaniel, a 6-2 senior, is back after a leg injury cut her 2014-2015 season short. In 12 games last year, she averaged 11.3 points and 6.6 rebounds. She entered last season as an All-ACC selection and McDaniel will have to be a leader on the floor in so many ways. Guard Jamie Cherry showed promise during her freshman season, averaging 6.4 points and 2.2 assists per game. She is a capable outside shooter too. N’Dea Bryant will not be the most prolific scorer on the team, but she is an experienced senior and that is important for this team right now. Bryant is also 6-0 and could play the four spot in certain situations. At the least, it will give Coach Hatchell an option to play small. With the two freshmen coming in, Destinee Walker and Stephanie Watts, playing small is certainly an option. Both Walker and Watts have the talent to step into the starting lineup and at least one of them will have to do so.

The list of departures is huge, but most notably are the transfers of Allisha Gray to South Carolina and Stephanie Mavunga to Ohio State. Those were North Carolina’s top two scorers and rebounders. And that’s not even mentioning the loss of fellow starters Brittany Rountree and Latifah Coleman and super sub Jessica Washington. But for this season, the weakness appears to be in the frontcourt. Outside of McDaniel, there is not much proven talent. The good news is though that the little depth this team does have lies in the frontcourt. Hillary Fuller and Hilllary Summers averaged just 5.1 and 7.3 minutes per game, respectively and will have to play a much bigger role this season. Erika Johnson will also be in the mix after missing last season with an injury. Two years ago Johnson only made 20 appearances though.

Final Projection:
Ideally, Fuller, Summers or Johnson will emerge as a solid frontcourt mate for McDaniel. That would allow Coach Hatchell to use one of the freshman guards as a scoring option off of the bench and the other two forwards for frontcourt depth. But it may not work out that way if none of the forwards are really ready to play 20 to 25 minutes per game. Eventually this team will find its groove and know its roles, but eventually they could run out of steam too. If North Carolina can go into March on the bubble, all the players deserve a lot of credit for getting that far. From there, as long as the short bench doesn’t catch up to them, UNC has the talent to get over the hump and get back to the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Jamie Cherry, Sophomore, Guard, 6.4 points per game
Destinee Walker, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Stephanie Watts, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
N’Dea Bryant, Senior, Guard, 5.2 points per game
Xylina McDaniel, Senior, Forward, 11.3 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.3 (24th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.3 (201, 11)
Field-Goal Percentage: 41.4 (100, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 37.8 (74, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (69, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 31.6 (155, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.1 (257, 13)
Rebound Margin: -0.2 (185, 11)
Assists Per Game: 14.8 (64, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 15.3 (130, 8)

Madness 2016 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#22 Xylina McDaniel

Madness 2015 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#19 Destinee Walker
#21 Stephanie Watts


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