The 2018-19 North Carolina basketball season is off and running. The three freshmen (Rechon “Leaky” Black, Nassir Little & Coby White) have moved onto campus, enrolled in summer classes and picked their jersey numbers.
With the three freshmen included, this is what we currently know about jersey numbers for the 2018-19 North Carolina men’s basketball team:
- 0 – Seventh Woods
- 1 – Rechon “Leaky” Black
- 2 – Coby White
- 3 – Andrew Platek
- 4 – Brandon Robinson
- 5 – Nassir Little
- 11 – Shea Rush
- 13 – Cameron Johnson
- 15 – Garrison Brooks
- 21 – Sterling Manley
- 22 – Walker Miller
- 24 – Kenny Williams
- 30 – K.J. Smith
- 32 – Luke Maye
- 42 – Brandon Huffman
On Monday June 25, the team held their first summer practice. We find ourselves at the beginning of July with no college sports happening, so that’s about all the excitement we get.
The lull in college sports also means it’s a perfect time to look ahead and consider the depth chart for this year’s Tar Heel basketball team. With several of the starting positions up in the air, Roy Williams will undoubtedly stay true-to-form and parcel out a healthy chunk of playing time to anyone who proves they can come in and help the team. Looking at the roster list above, 12 of those 15 names will likely see a good deal of game action in non-conference play before the rotation tightens in ACC competition.
A few words about the process of projecting this depth chart:
While there are multiple players who will play more than one position during the season, for this exercise each player will be listed on the depth chart just once.
The 15 players currently on the roster will be evenly distributed among the five positions, meaning that each position will have three players listed on the depth (even if that means a player is slotted slightly out of position).
Coach Williams has the personnel to play either his traditional two big man lineup or go small. This capability muddies the waters of the traditional five positions. Additionally, Williams’ lineup construction decisions will obviously affect the allotment of minutes to different players. For example, if the Tar Heels play two big men, Sterling Manley and Garrison Brooks will probably see their numbers go up, but if they play small, those two will see a reduction in court time.
Here, then, is a look at the official and completely undisputed (okay, fine: unofficial and completely disputable) 2018-19 UNC Basketball Depth Chart.
1 – Point Guard
Williams will give Seventh Woods every opportunity to win this job. If healthy, it’s likely that his knowledge of the system will earn him the job right out of the gate. Don’t be surprised if Coby White takes over the starting role by the time ACC play rolls around. In an ideal world, both players have incredible years and share the lead guard role.
2 – Shooting Guard
Kenny Williams is the best defender on the team (this was true last year even with Theo Pinson on the roster). He was second on the team last year in made threes (behind Joel Berry) and three-point percentage (behind Luke Maye). Williams’ veteran leadership will earn him the majority of playing time at shooting guard. Leaky Black is a player whose skill set will allow him to play point guard, but whose height will also allow him to play forward. Andrew Platek played 7.5 minutes a game last year and will likely see around the same, since each of the incoming freshmen are more gifted physically.
3 – Small Forward
It will be interesting to see how Williams portions out playing time at small forward. Nassir Little comes in as the highest rated recruit since Harrison Barnes and will make a strong push for a starting position. However, having three seniors in the starting lineup would be a big deal in 2019; especially at a school like North Carolina.
Expect Cameron Johnson to get the starting nod, but for Nassir Little to play starter’s minutes. If the Tar Heels go small, both players will probably be starters. Brandon Robinson is due to come into his own this season. Expect to see an increase from his 8.6 minutes a game in 2017-18. Depending on the personnel on the floor, he will play anywhere from the two to the four.
4 – Power Forward
This is the easiest position to pick. Luke Maye has a stranglehold on a starting spot. The question is whether that spot will be at the four (big lineup) or the five (small lineup) Regardless of the answer, Maye will likely play the most minutes on the team, albeit not as many as he did last year, since he has more experienced big men playing alongside him. It would be fun to see Garrison Brooks and Sterling Manley on the court together more this season. Brooks has the higher defensive IQ, which will allow him to stay on the court as his offensive game catches up.
5 – Center
If Sterling Manley can pass his physical fitness tests (which kept him out of the starting lineup last year), he will likely get the nod as the fifth starter. If he is not a starter, he will likely be the first big man off the bench. In order for Carolina to achieve their ceiling (and to give Maye the rest he needs), both Manley and Brooks will have to be major contributors.
There you have it: the 2018-19 North Carolina depth chart. The personnel is such that Coach Williams will have several options in how to deploy his troops. Don’t be surprised (or frustrated) to see him tinker with different combinations throughout the non-conference part of the schedule. Remember that Willams’ preferred playing style is a traditional two-big lineup, so expect the likes of Manley and Brooks to get every opportunity to prove they belong in a starter’s role. Due to the versatility of talent on the roster, the amount of playing time given out game-by-game could be dependent on attacking an opponent’s weakness.
One thing is for sure: basketball season can’t get here soon enough!
Stay tuned for more updates throughout the summer as the 2018-19 season continues to take shape!