Assessing The Tar Heels' Offseason Transfer Movement

Assessing The Tar Heels' Offseason Transfer Movement
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

It has been an eventful offseason for the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team. Just four of 13 scholarship players from the 2022-23 squad are set to return to Chapel Hill. Hubert Davis has remodeled the roster around center Armando Bacot and point guard RJ Davis following the Tar Heels’ substandard 20-13 season, which saw the program miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010 despite starting the year ranked first in the preseason AP Poll.  

Fifth-year seniors Leaky Black and Pete Nance exhausted their collegiate eligibility, but the remaining seven departures all elected to transfer. With only two high school recruits enrolling for the fall, this forced UNC to scour the portal for replacements, leading to four additions so far. 

Now that the portal is closed to non-graduate entrants who wish to be immediately eligible for the 2023-24 season, BetCarolina.com took the time to examine what the Tar Heels have lost and gained throughout this year’s transfer window.

Stick with BetCarolina ahead of the Tar Heels season, and for pending North Carolina sports betting legislation.

UNC Transfer Losses

  • Caleb Love (uncommitted, decommitted from Michigan on May 17): 33 of 33 games 
    played, 35.7 minutes per game, 16.7 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game, 2.8 assists 
    per game
     
  • Puff Johnson (committed to Penn State): 27 of 33 games played, 16.0 minutes per game, 
    4.1 points per game, 2.7 rebounds per game, 0.4 assists per game
     
  • D’Marco Dunn (uncommitted): 27 of 33 games played, 10.2 minutes per game, 2.7 points
    per game, 0.7 rebounds per game, 0.2 assists per game
     
  • Tyler Nickel (committed to Virginia Tech): 25 of 33 games played, 6.0 minutes per game,
    2.1 points per game, 0.6 rebounds per game, 0.3 assists per game
     
  • Dontrez Styles (committed to Georgetown): 15 of 33 games played, 5.9 minutes per 
    game, 1.4 points per game, 0.9 rebounds per game, 0.1 assists per game
     
  • Justin McKoy (committed to Hawaii): 11 of 33 games played, 5.4 minutes per game, 1.7 
    points per game, 1.2 rebounds per game, 0.1 assists per game
     
  • Will Shaver (committed to UAB): 3 of 33 games played, 2.0 minutes per game, 0.7 points
    per game, 0.3 rebounds per game, 0.3 assists per game

         Net transfer losses: 66.4 minutes per game, 25.1 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game, 3.7 
         assists per game.

Love, Johnson Leave Shoes To Fill

While North Carolina lost more players to transfer than it added this offseason, most of those losses came from their bench depth. Caleb Love was the only starter to enter the portal and of the six reserves to leave, only Puff Johnson and D’Marco Dunn earned even semi-consistent playing time. Expect North Carolina sports betting apps to make note of this when the season tips off.

Love led the Tar Heels in both minutes and points per game, but shot just 37.8% from the field and saw his assist rate drop for a second consecutive year. Although he is capable of exceptional displays of shot-making, his bouts of inefficiency harmed the team at times, making this a potential addition by subtraction scenario. 

As sixth man, Johnson played a key role on a team that lacked functional depth, but he struggled to make an impact offensively, taking just 93 field goal attempts for the entire season and converting on only 38.7% of them. However, he was the only UNC reserve to eclipse even 25% of the team’s total minutes played, as all five starters averaged at least 30 minutes per game.  The Tar Heels used their bench less frequently than all but three other D1 teams this season, per KenPom.com. 

Dunn and Dontrez Styles both came to North Carolina as top 70 players in the Class of 2021, according to the 247Sports Composite, but neither could establish themselves in Chapel Hill. Styles played almost double the minutes Dunn did as freshmen (though neither averaged over six minutes per game) before that flipped this year and Dunn earned more than triple the playing time of Styles.  Still, despite ranking seventh on the team in minutes per game, Dunn’s spot in the rotation became precarious by the end of the year as he only appeared for 10 or more minutes in three of the season’s final 13 contests (and never for more than 13 minutes).

The only member of the Tar Heels 2022 recruiting class to depart, Tyler Nickel also found himself struggling to see the floor after ranking in the bottom half of last year’s top 100. Billed as a skilled forward, Nickel attempted 27 of his 40 field goals from beyond the three-point line but hit only six of those three-point attempts (22.2%). 

As the only non-former four- or five-star prospects on the roster, Justin McKoy and Will Shaver served as the back end of UNC’s bench this season. With neither likely to have seen a meaningful increase in playing time, it should come as little surprise both opted to transfer.

UNC Transfer Additions

  • Paxson Wojcik (transfer from Brown): 27 of 27 games played, 34.6 minutes per game, 
    14.9 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, 3.2 assists per game
     
  • Cormac Ryan (transfer from Notre Dame): 32 of 32 games played, 33.9 minutes per 
    game, 12.3 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game, 2.5 assists per game
     
  • Harrison Ingram (transfer from Stanford): 33 of 33 games played, 27.9 minutes per game,
    10.5 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, 3.7 assists per game
     
  • Jae’lyn Withers (transfer from Louisville): 32 of 32 games played, 25.0 minutes per 
    game, 8.9 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game, 0.8 assists per game

    Net transfer gains: 120.5 minutes per game, 45.9 points per game, 22.0 rebounds per game, 10.1 
    assists per game

Which New Arrival Will Make The Most Impact?

In its quest to replace these seven players and remake the team, North Carolina looked to the portal with a clear plan of action: decrease the reliance on athleticism and isolation ball and acquire experienced shooting and playmaking with size.  

All four incoming transfers stand at least 6’5”, have at least two years of college experience and averaged at least one made three per game in 2022-23.

This comes after the Tar Heels failed to match the levels of shooting and playmaking that made them so dangerous in 2021-22 when they lost the national championship to Kansas. UNC went from shooting 35.8% from three as a team then to 31.2% this past season with their rate of assists to field goals made falling from 54.1% to 45.8%. Both of these figures ranked inside the top 100 nationally in 2021-22, but outside the top 300 in '22-23.

Paxson Wojcik, Cormac Ryan, Harrison Ingram and Jae'lyn Withers combined to shoot 36.2% from three last season and the floor spacing they provide should theoretically open up the court for Bacot and Davis. With those two stars as the centerpiece of the team, the transfers should settle into complementary roles next to them despite collectively averaging over 20 points per game more than the transfers they replace.

While Wojcik, Ryan and Ingram all finished second on their team in scoring this season, each are still suited to impact the game with lower usage.  Both Wojcik and Ryan took over half their field goal attempts from three in '22-23 but have demonstrated the ability to scale their shot diet and volume with what the team needs over their careers. 

Ingram does not possess the same level of shooting skill as Wojcik or Ryan, but he provides the best playmaking of the group. A rare handler for his size, only eight players 6’7” or taller posted a higher assist percentage than Ingram last season. The former McDonald’s All-American should slide easily into Leaky Black’s spot given these traits, though he offers a higher upside than Black because of the extra offensive juice in his game.

Withers gives the Tar Heels a natural stretch four to pair with Bacot that can still battle on the defensive glass like Carolina typically expects of its bigs. He struggled to finish inside this season, making just 44.5% of his twos, but with a 41.7% three-point percentage and 22.2% defensive rebounding rate, he was one of just ten qualified players to shoot at least 40% from three on 50+ attempts while exceeding a 20% defensive rebounding rate in '22-23, per BartTorvik.com.

What Do The Sportsbooks Think?

North Carolina has three remaining scholarships to fill, although reclassification rumors continue to follow several of their Class of 2024 commitments.

How are national sportsbooks weighing the new look squad? Over at DraftKings Sportsbook, the Heels are +2200 to win the national title, the same odds as other strong programs like Gonzaga and Texas, but behind others like Kentucky (+1300), Kansas (+1400) and UConn (also +1400). Expect a DraftKings North Carolina promo code when the state officially legalizes mobile sports betting.

The bad news for Heels fans? Rival Duke is the favorite over at DraftKings at +1100, meaning this new-look squad will have to go head-to-head with a strong, veteran rival several times next season.

Stay close to this site for North Carolina sports betting promos ahead of the college basketball season.

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Author

Josh Markowitz is a freelance writer for BetCarolina.com. He is a lifelong sports fan with an emphasis on college basketball, football, baseball and the scouting/evaluation process. A graduate of Elon University's School of Communications, Josh also has experience in television production.

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