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Who Should Hubert Davis Target in the Transfer Portal?

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Heading into yesterday’s deadline to enter the transfer portal, Hubert Davis and North Carolina were at the max of 13 scholarships for the 2022-2023 season. Sophomore Kerwin Walton then announced his intentions to search for a new home, opening up a roster spot for the National Runner-Up.

While the Tar Heels bring back four starters, the glaring question mark is how to replace the production of Brady Manek. Puff Johnson proved his value in the National Championship, but with his smaller sample size of college experience, a stretch 4 from the portal would solidify an already dangerous core in Chapel Hill.

The Portal Report will break down potential fits for the final roster spot and why some big names in the portal won’t be wearing argyle next season.

KJ Williams

The Murray State transfer was the leading scorer for a three-loss NCAA tournament team and potentially the best mid-major in college basketball, averaging 18 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Williams, the Ohio Valley Player of the Year, brings the size and scoring at the 4-spot, but his 32 percent average from three could bring forth hesitation.

The Heels need a stretch 4 to spread the floor and give Armando Bacot space to work down low. Williams can stretch his game to the outside if needed, but also provide minutes at the 5 if Bacot gets in foul trouble. With the Cleveland, MS native going through the NBA Draft process, a return to college basketball may not be in the cards. If the 6-foot-10 forward returns to the collegiate ranks, expect LSU to be a favorite as former Murray State head coach Matt McMahon has taken over in Baton Rouge.

Pete Nance

As a four-year performer at Northwestern, Nance would use his fifth and final year of eligibility should he withdraw from the NBA Draft. The son and brother of NBA veterans Larry Nance Sr. and Larry Nance Jr. tallied 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest in Evanston.

Nance’s three-point average stands out as a potential replacement for Manek, shooting 45.2 percent from beyond the arc on 93 attempts. While also averaging 1.1 blocks per contest, the Akron, OH native could serve as a secondary rim protector and add outside shooting in Chapel Hill

Matthew Mayer

Perhaps the perfect successor to Manek is the 2019 National Champion from Baylor. Hubert Davis saw Mayer’s impact firsthand as the Austin, TX recorded 10 points against the Tar Heels after pouring in 22 points in the Round of 64 against Norfolk State.

Mayer averaged a career-high 9.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in his fourth season in Waco. Although Mayer struggled from beyond the arc at 32 percent, he posted back-to-back seasons of 37 percent or better from three prior to this season.

The production of Manek beyond the arc and as a catch-and-shoot threat won’t be matched, but Mayer is a capable ball handler and can also contribute to the pick-and-roll game. Mayer would provide an upgrade on defense at the 4-spot and his experience as a National Champion is rare in the portal. As the potential fifth-year senior saw just 22.8 minutes of action per contest, his addition to the roster in Chapel Hill would still provide Puff Johnson the ability to cement himself in the rotation.

Felipe Haase

As an under-the-radar transfer, Haase could make the transition back to the Power 5 level. After two seasons at South Carolina, the Chile native transferred to Mercer where he recorded 14.8 points and 5.6 rebounds this past season.

Haase was successful on 40.6 percent of his 175 attempts behind the arc, shooting at a high clip for a big man. With the availability in Chapel Hill, the potential fifth-year senior could slide into the stretch-4 position and compliment the ball-dominant guards in the Carolina frontcourt.

AJ Green

As a two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, AJ Green has and will continue to garner interest from a plethora of Power 5 schools. Green recorded 18.8 points per game on 41% shooting. Although he struggled from inside the arc, the Cedar Falls, IA native connected on 38.7 percent from three, shooting no worse than 38 percent over the past three seasons.

An elite shooter, Green will serve as a successful role player at the Power 5 level, but I do not foresee it being in Carolina blue. The 6-foot-4 guard would prohibit the production of Caleb Love and R.J. Davis, while also taking minutes from incoming freshman Seth Trimble.

With his dad serving as an assistant coach on the Iowa State staff, it is expected that Green will be a Cyclone next season.

Isiaih Mosley

Although there is only one basketball to compete with, Hubert Davis should do his due diligence on the Missouri State transfer. Mosley earned First Team honors in the Missouri Valley Conference and finished runner-up in the Conference Player of the Year voting.

The Columbia, MO native tallied 20.4 PPG and 6.2 RPG, shooting 42.7 percent from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-5 guard has been one of the most consistent scorers at the mid-major level the past two seasons, averaging 19 or more points on 50 percent from the field.

Mosley would not necessarily fit the Manek mold in Hubert Davis’ system, but it is worth a look for the Tar Heels and their extra roster spot.

Emoni Bates

Any time a former top-10 recruit enters the portal, every Power 5 program’s fans will want their services. Emoni Bates was tabbed as a generational prospect before his first season at Memphis under Penny Hardaway. Injuries hindered Bates’ availability, playing in just 18 games and averaging 9.7 PPG and 3.3 RPG.

With Bates making the patented sophomore leap, he could return to his pre-college hype and potential. The main issue with Bates coming to North Carolina is the inefficiency and need for the ball. The Ypsilanti, MI native shot just 38 percent from the field, while the Tigers lineup was clearly more successful without him in the lineup. As Carolina returns three starters who average in double figures, there would not be enough possessions for the former-five star recruit to be satisfied.

Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Another former five star recruit that battled injuries was Patrick Baldwin Jr. Heading to Milwaukee to play for his father, Baldwin Jr. was limited to just 11 games where he averaged 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds on 34% shooting.

Baldwin Sr. was dismissed after a 10-22 record in the Horizon League, leading Baldwin to enter the transfer portal as he tested the draft waters. The draft stock of Baldwin was not improved, but it is still likely that the Sussex, WI native will remain in the draft as a first round selection.

The Tar Heels need a supplemental player that compliments the Core Four in Chapel Hill, not a prospect who seeks to be the focal point of an offense.

Conclusion

As Hubert Davis seeks to fill the 13th roster spot from the transfer portal, I expect one of the trio of KJ Williams, Pete Nance, and Matthew Mayer to head to Chapel Hill. With the decisions to return to school or remain in the draft looming, the outlook of the transfer portal can change drastically in a short period of time. Check back in to The Portal Report to see how Hubert Davis improves the already loaded North Carolina roster.

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