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Basketball Transfers

Is Pete Nance a Fit for Hubert Davis and the Tar Heels?

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On Wednesday, Northwestern forward and transfer portal entrant Pete Nance withdrew his name from the NBA Draft. The former four-star recruit has been one of two big-time transfers linked to the Tar Heels, along with former Baylor Bear and now Illinois signee Matthew Mayer.

Nance has spent the past four seasons at Northwestern, becoming a fixture in the Wildcats’ starting lineup during his sophomore campaign.

The UNC target recorded his best season for the Wildcats in 2022, tallying 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds on 49.7 percent shooting. Nance’s usage rate skyrocketed to 25.3 percent, leading Northwestern in scoring, rebounding, and field-goal percentage.

Perhaps the most significant development for Nance has been his improvement from beyond the arc.

The Akron, OH native has increased his three point shooting percentage every season, making a leap from 36.4 percent to 45.2 percent this past season. As the Tar Heels look to replace Brady Manek, could Pete Nance be the missing piece to UNC’s roster?

Offense

With returnees Puff Johnson and Dontrez Styles, the answer may already be on the Tar Heels’ roster. However, Nance provides two things that the two wearing argyle do not: years of experience and better shooting.

Plugging Nance in the four spot would sacrifice some athleticism and versatility, but provide a quality back up to spell Armando Bacot. The 6-foot-10 forward has the size to slide to the five-spot and his 2.7 APG prove his ability to facilitate.

For the Tar Heel offense, Nance fits much better schematically than Mayer. The former Wildcat is more consistent from the outside and can fit the mold the UNC offense had with Brady Manek. Nance is more than a spot shooter, connecting from outside off of screens and movement. The four in and one out style is possible with Nance, who is a threat from beyond the arc.

Armando Bacot would once again have space in the paint, but also another reliable shooter to dish to if he is swarmed down low.

Two main focuses of the Tar Heel offense that Nance can emulate are dribble handoffs and slips to the basket. Nance’s experience would allow the Carolina guards to attack off the handoff and continue their offensive style.

Slipping screens is a staple within the Carolina offense. Armando Bacot and Brady Manek received high-percentage looks by slipping to the basket. As for Nance, he can continue this style, as he shot 81.3 percent and scored 1.58 points per possession on rolls or slips to the rim this season (ACC Sports).

Defense

The performance on the defensive end for Nance is not his calling card, but he certainly holds his own down low. There is not a drop off from Manek’s defense and Nance is effective guarding the pick-and-roll.

The biggest plus for the Tar Heels would be the ability to rest Armando Bacot. UNC’s Iron Five played heavy minutes for the Heels and Nance can defend in the five spot.  The senior forward is effective at squandering second chance points, pulling down five or more defensive rebounds per game the past three seasons.

Fit

Pete Nance would ideally fill a stretch-four role for the Heels, replicating the offensive scheme from last season. An important factor to consider is Nance’s experience in this role and playing with a productive center.

Duke transfer Ryan Young and Nance played 324 minutes together and were a +36 over the past two seasons (ACC Sports). A similar role alongside Armando Bacot would be guaranteed, providing Nance with a familiar look on both ends of the floor.

A main concern for Tar Heel fans is how the addition of Nance would impact Puff Johnson and Dontrez Styles. Johnson and Styles would likely come off the bench with Nance receiving starter minutes. However, Nance playing minutes at the five would allow the Tar Heels to play small and find minutes for the two returners.

Ultimately, this would provide five outside shooters on the floor for Carolina, with Nance also able to star in the pick-and-roll.

As the Tar Heels return four starters, Pete Nance is a perfect fit for Hubert Davis. His similarities to Manek would allow for Carolina to maintain a similar style. Armando Bacot would continue to dominate in this scheme, with the Heels able to spread the floor and create space.

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