North Carolina’s Head Coach, Roy Williams, signed three McDonald’s All-American in his 2014 class and the trio have Tar Heel fans excited for 2014/15, and for good reason.
Justin Jackson: The Texan is a versatile forward/guard, who has already shown the ability to both run the floor in the up-tempo Tar Heel offence as well as follow the play up the court. He gives Williams a scoring threat at either the 2 or 3 spot, as Jackson is an efficient scorer that can spot up and shoot from distance or attack the basketball off the bounce. Jackson has showcased a floater in the lane. The newcomer led all-scorers in the “Late Night With Roy” Blue-White scrimmage, as well in as exhibition games against Fayetteville State and Belmont Abbey. His basketball IQ is something that will earn the freshman valuable minutes in an experienced squad that includes nine upperclassmen.
Theo Pinson: Greensboro product Theo Pinson is another guard/small forward option at Coach William’s disposal, but with a different skill set to his 2014 classmate. He differs from Jackson in two main areas. For one, he is a pass-first guard. He likes to create for others and is swagger on the ball allows for smooth passes. Second, he likes to explode to the basket and at 6-6 and190 lbs., if he polishes his frame at Carolina, he will be able to go against any ACC big in the lane. At Wesleyan Christian, he was a highlight reel for dunks and blocks, which is similar to the style of Junior J.P. Tokoto. Pinson wanted to punish defenders and that offensive assertiveness will light up faces in the Dean Dome. Think Vince Carter.
Joel Berry II: He earned MVP honours and a second-straight FHSAA title with Lake Highland Prep in 2013/14. He is a proven winner. In the tournament run, Berry posted numbers of 22.4 points per and 6.6 rebounds per. With the return of both starting point-guard Marcus Paige and backup Nate Britt, it is unlikely that Berry will have an immediate impact like the above two. But Williams is playing it safe by overloading at the point as injuries at the position derailed tournament runs in the past. The Floridian is most dangerous in half-court sets as defenders rarely match his first step.
The three newcomers bring back a sense of toughness that has often been thought of as missing at Chapel Thrill in recent years, at least since the days of Tyler Hansbrough and co. That is not a slight to recent teams, but fans were critical of James Michael McAdoo’s tenacity around the rim. Post players, like sophomores Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks, who will be taking on larger roles in 2014/15 will help build ferocity within the Carolina roster.
Carolina opens their regular season 14 November at home against NC Central at 7pm on ESPNU.