The North Carolina Tar Heels had a very strange 2013-14 season that included some surprising upsets during the regular year that led many to think they were NCAA Final Four contenders. However, coach Roy Williams‘ club also had some major setbacks and started very poorly in the ACC.
The Tar Heels rebounded and made their way to the NCAA tournament. Despite falling to the Iowa State Cyclones, the players can always look back on that season as a success.
Next year, however, will be a different story. Despite losing James Michael McAdoo to the NBA Draft, the Tar Heels have many great returning starters and a superb incoming freshmen class.
Marcus Paige obviously leads the way as he comes back as one of the best players in the country and one of the favorites for National Player of the Year. Paige was one of the premier clutch players in all of college basketball and should get even better going into his junior season. Paige averaged 17.5 points and 4.5 assists last season, and while those numbers may not change much, he will be a better player because of his supporting cast. Paige will have a more seasoned frontcourt that includes Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson. Both players showed they could have big games and much more is expected of them.
The freshmen class is considered one of the best in the country and gives the Tar Heels pieces that were left empty last year. Joel Berry will ease Paige’s role in the backcourt as he will likely take over at the point guard and move Paige into more of a scoring role. Berry is an elite player and should fit into the Tar Heels’ system immediately because of his vision and speed. Justin Jackson is considered one of the better wing players in this year’s class, and his shooting should help a team that was terrible from behind the three-point line last year. Theo Pinson rounds out the class as a tenacious defender and quality offensive contributor. He will allow the Tar Heels to play a man-t0-man defense that will lead to fast breaks off of defensive rebounds.
North Carolina was given a break last year, but next season nothing short of a Final Four appearance will do.