#16 North Carolina Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #16
Conference Rank: #4 ACC
 North Carolina Logo
North Carolina avenged their heartbreaking championship game loss in 2016 by winning their sixth NCAA Championship in school history last year. The title was the third UNC has won with Roy Williams at the helm. The Tar Heels have won 33 games in each of the last two seasons, but this year will be a bit of a rebuild by North Carolina standards. All-ACC guard Joel Berry remains, but the Tar Heels lose four of their top five scorers from last season. Roy Williams will need a mix of returning depth players and incoming freshmen to play major roles this year. North Carolina will surely take a step back, but should still find themselves in the mix at the top of the ACC.
2016-17 Record: 33-7, 14-4
2016-17 Postseason:
NCAA Tournament
Roy Williams
Coach Record:
398-115 at North Carolina, 816-216 overall
Who’s Out:
North Carolina will have a load of talent to replace from their championship team. Three double-digit scorers are gone, led by first team All-American forward Justin Jackson. Jackson had a spectacular junior year, averaging a team-high 18.3 points along with 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Jackson also led the Tar Heels with 2.6 made threes per game on 37% shooting from behind the arc. Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks have both graduated after four-year careers as big men at North Carolina. Meeks averaged 12.5 points and 9.5 rebounds as a senior, both career highs. Hicks also set career marks as a senior, averaging 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds. North Carolina will have a tough time replacing Meeks and Hicks down low. Fellow big man Tony Bradley also departed somewhat surprisingly after his freshman season. Bradley never started and played just 14.6 minutes per game, but showed enough talent to move on to the NBA. Lastly, Nate Britt has graduated after four years at UNC. Britt averaged a career-low 4.5 points along with 2.4 assists in 19.0 minutes per game as a senior.
Who’s In:
Roy Williams brought in a grad transfer along with five freshmen to replace the lost production. Cameron Johnson comes to North Carolina after spending three years at Pittsburgh. Johnson is a sharpshooter who made 2.4 threes on 41.5% shooting from deep last season. Roy Williams doesn’t typically go after the elite one-and-done freshmen, and this year’s batch is no exception. The top recruit for UNC is point guard Jalek Felton. Felton was a four-star, top-30 player nationally and was the top ranked player from South Carolina. Garrison Brooks is also a four-star recruit. Brooks, a 6-9 forward, gives the Tar Heels some much-needed frontcourt help. Andrew Platek, Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley are all three-star prospects. Platek is a shooting guard who likely won’t see heavy minutes as a freshman. Huffman and Manley are both big men who will give UNC additional depth and size down low.
Who to Watch:
The Tar Heels enter 2017-18 behind their senior leader, Joel Berry. Berry earned second team All-ACC honors as a junior behind 14.7 points, 3.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. Berry was the Heels’ leader down the stretch, winning Final Four Most Outstanding Player. Theo Pinson is back for his senior season. Pinson is an all-around threat who averaged 6.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and a team-high 3.7 assists in 21 games as a junior. Kenny Williams returns after missing the end of 2017 with a knee injury in February. Williams had started the last 18 games before his injury, averaging 6.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists on the season. Elite Eight hero Luke Maye is back and will have a bigger role as a junior this year. Maye emerged during the NCAA Tournament, scoring in double digits three times in six tournament games, matching his total from the entire regular season. Seventh Woods also appears primed for a breakout year as a sophomore. Woods was a top-50 recruit and played just 7.7 minutes per game as a freshman. Woods should get more playing time this year along with fellow sophomore Brandon Robinson. Robinson saw 7.8 minutes per game as a freshman.
Final Projection:
North Carolina is unlikely to make it to a third straight National Championship Game appearance, but Roy Williams will still have plenty of talent on his roster. The Tar Heels will be without Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks, so previous role players will need to step up. North Carolina is one of the best schools in the nation at developing talent, so they should still be a top-20 team even during a transition year. The Tar Heels will remain near the top of the ACC standings.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament
Projected Starting Five:
Joel Berry, Senior, Guard, 14.7 points per game

Kenny Williams, Junior, Guard, 6.2 points per game
Cameron Johnson, Junior, Guard, 11.9 points per game
Theo Pinson, Senior, Forward, 6.1 points per game
Luke Maye, Junior, Forward, 5.5 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 84.4 (12th in nation, 1st in conference)

Scoring Defense: 70.6 (127, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.6 (69, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.3 (47, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (203, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.5 (151, 13)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.1 (176, 10)
Rebound Margin: 12.3 (1, 1)
Assists Per Game: 18.1 (4, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.8 (68, 7)
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#26 Jalek Felton
#127 Garrison Brooks