99 in 99: #8 North Carolina Tar Heels


North Carolina cheerleaders

The North Carolina Tar Heels were once again playing for a championship in April.  Unfortunately, it was the NIT title.  UNC is coming off a very uncharacteristic season in which they missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Roy Williams.  The Heels will be a young team this season but do add the top freshman in the country, Harrison Barnes.

The Sports Bank’s “99 in 99” breaks down the 72 power conference college basketball teams and top 27 mid-majors.  Click here if you missed teams #9-#99.

By: David Kay

North Carolina Tar Heels (5-11 in ACC, 20-17 overall)

Projected Depth Chart
C: Tyler Zeller (Jr)/Justin Knox (Sr)
PF: John Henson (So)
SF: Harrison Barnes (Fr)/Justin Watts (Jr)
SG: Dexter Strickland (So)/Leslie McDonald (So)/Reggie Bullock (Fr)
PG: Larry Drew II (Jr)/ Kendall Marshall (Fr)

Gone: C-Ed Davis, SG-Marcus Ginyard, PF-Deon Thompson, PF-Travis Wear (transfer-UCLA), PF-David Wear (transfer-UCLA), SF-Will Graves (dismissed)

harrison barnes unc2010-2011 Outlook:
You know a special player is coming into your program when he has not even stepped on the floor for a collegiate game but has already been named pre-season All-American.  Meet Harrison Barnes.  The 6-8 wing is the top in-coming freshman in the country and the likely number one pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.  He can do it all and will have a John Wall-like effect for the Heels this season.

The guard play was incredibly inconsistent a year ago which played a big part in North Carolina’s struggles.  Larry Drew II enters his second season as the team’s starting point guard and should be flanked by sophomore Dexter Strickland, but there will be plenty of competition for minutes in the backcourt.

Sophomore Leslie McDonald never truly acclimated himself to the college game last season but is a much better player than he displayed.  Carolina also brings in top 25 recruits Kendall Marshall and Reggie Bullock who are often overlooked since Barnes receives all the press.  The talent is certainly there at guard but the experience factor is still a bit of a question mark.

The starting frontcourt boasts good size, length, and athleticism, but not much physicality inside.  6-10, 210 pound John Henson arrived in Chapel Hill with high expectations but had a fairly disappointing freshman season.  He did come on strong down the stretch but is still incredibly thin.  He makes up for his lack of muscle with his explosiveness at the rim and shot blocking on the defensive end. Henson can also step outside and has range out to the three-point line.

Starting center Tyler Zeller has suffered through an injury riddled two years at UNC.  He is a skilled big man who will need to stay healthy this season since the surprising transfer of the Wear twins and early exit of Ed Davis to the NBA leaves the Heels thin up-front.  Fortunately, they bring in Alabama transfer Justin Knox who becomes immediately eligible because he is a grad student.  He will provide some much needed muscle off the bench behind the thin Zeller and Henson.  Expect to see Barnes and junior wing Justin Watts play some four this season as Roy Williams will have to go with a smaller line-up at times.

As always, North Carolina is one of the most talented teams in the country.  But with only one senior, who comes in as a transfer, the leadership and experience factor remains unsettled.  But if Barnes is as good as advertised, we should be hearing a lot from the Heels this season… and not because they are playing in the NIT Finals.

Player to Watch: Kendall Marshall, PG
A true point guard in every sense of the phrase, Marshall might be the most talented distributor, playmaker in the 2010 class.  His ability to create and find teammates is well beyond what you would expect from a freshman.  He will definitely push Drew for playing time at the point and should flourish in UNC’s up-tempo offense.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/19 vs. Minnesota/Western Kentucky (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/21 vs. West Virginia/Davidson/Vanderbilt/Nebraska (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
11/28 vs. Charleston
11/30 at Illinois (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/4 vs. Kentucky
12/18 vs. Texas
12/28 vs. Rutgers

Other 99 in 99’s:
#9 Florida
#10 Illinois
#11 Kentucky
#12 Villanova
#13 Baylor
#14 Washington
#15 Georgetown
#16 Missouri
#17 Memphis
#18 Wisconsin
#19 Purdue
#20 Butler
#21 Virginia Tech
#22 Tennessee
#23 Gonzaga
#24 Texas
#25 San Diego State
#26 Xavier
#27 West Virginia
#28 BYU
#29 Georgia
#30 St. John’s
#31 N.C. State
#32 Florida State
#33 Marquette
#34 Temple
#35 Vanderbilt
#36 Arizona
#37 Murray State
#38 Dayton
#39 Notre Dame
#40 Mississippi State
#41 Utah State
#42 Maryland
#43 Richmond
#44 UNLV
#45 Seton Hall
#46 Wichita State
#47 Washington State
#48 St. Louis
#49 Old Dominion
#50 Minnesota
#51 New Mexico
#52 UConn
#53 Northwestern
#54 UCLA
#55 Southern Mississippi
#56 St. Mary’s
#57 Texas A&M
#58 Louisville
#59 Arizona State
#60 Northern Iowa
#61 Creighton
#62 Clemson
#63 Cincinnati
#64 Texas Tech
#65 Miami, FL
#66 Charlotte
#67 UTEP
#68 Ole Miss
#69 George Mason
#70 Colorado
#71 Weber State
#72 Alabama
#73 Bradley
#74 Central Florida
#75 Wake Forest
#76 Georgia Tech
#77 USC
#78 Oklahoma State
#79 Cal
#80 Oklahoma
#81 Virginia
#82 South Carolina
#83 Indiana
#84 Stanford
#85 Oregon
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#88 Arkansas
#89 Boston College
#90 LSU
#91 Providence
#92 Michigan
#93 Oregon State
#94. Nebraska
#95. Auburn
#96. DePaul
#97. Iowa State
#98. Rutgers
#99. Iowa

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and The Washington Times Communities.  You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.


  1. UNC is a good team and should do good.

  2. But I think all they have is Harrison Barnes, Larry Drew II, and Dexter Strickland.

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