Tag Archives: Gonzaga Basketball

Who’s in and who’s out? The 2019 NBA Draft Early Entry List

Updated: March 31, 2019 | 1:00pm

The end of the college basketball season carries with it the beginning of underclassmen declaring their NBA Draft intentions.

With the ability of underclassmen to go through the pre-draft process and combine, gaining valuable insight from NBA scouts without relinquishing their college eligibility, the list of those declaring for the NBA Draft grows by the year. Note that NCAA players can declare and withdraw from the draft twice without forfeiting their college eligibility.

Players have until 11:59 pm ET on April 21 to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft. Players who hire an agent immediately forfeit their remaining collegiate eligibility (although plans are in the works and waiting to be ratified by the NBA and NBPA which would allow undrafted players to retain college eligibility after going through an Undergraduate Advisory Committee evaluation). Players who don’t hire an agent have until May 29 (10 days after the NBA Draft Combine ends) to withdraw and return to college.

Players are divided into one of the following four lists and will be updated regularly as new information becomes available:

  1. Those who are IN THE DRAFT (have declared for the draft and signed [or intend to sign] with an agent)
  2. Those who are TESTING THE WATERS (have declared for the draft but not signed with an agent)
  3. Those who are RETURNING TO COLLEGE (have declared their intention to return to school and not enter the draft)
  4. Those who we are still WAITING TO HEAR FROM (have NBA potential but have not announced a decision one way or the other)

Each declaration is painstakingly researched to make sure you are supplied with the most up-to-date and accurate player information. You won’t find any “according to a source” in this article. Accompanying each player, you’ll find a hyperlink to his declaration, a press release from the school or other official announcement.

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IN THE DRAFT
** = Hiring agent while maintaining college eligibility

  1. Bol Bol | Oregon | Freshman | C | 7’2” | 235lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  2. Ky Bowman | Boston College | Junior | G | 6’1” | 188lb | Link
  3. Yoeli Childs | BYU | Junior | F | 6’8” | 225lb | Link
  4. **CJ Elleby | Washington State | Freshman | F | 6’6” | 200lb | Link
  5. Daniel Gafford | Arkansas | Sophomore | F | 6’11” | 233lb | Link
  6. Darius Garland | Vanderbilt | Freshman | G | 6’2” | 175lb | Link 1| Link 2
  7. Dewan Hernandez | Miami | Junior | F | 6’11” | 236lb | Link 1| Link 2
  8. Amir Hinton | Shaw (D2) | Junior | G | 6’5” | 190lb | Link 
  9. Romeo Langford | Indiana | Freshman | G | 6’6” | 215lb | Link
  10. Nassir Little | North Carolina | Freshman | F | 6’6” | 220lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  11. Skylar Mays | LSU | Junior | G | 6’4” | 200lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  12. Jalen McDaniels | San Diego State | RS Sophomore | G | 5’9” | 160lb | Link
  13. Ja Morant | Murray State | Sophomore | G | 6’3” | 175lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  14. Miye Oni | Yale | Junior | G | 6’6” | 210lb | Link 1| Link 2
  15. Shamorie Ponds | St. John’s | Junior | G | 6’1” | 180lb | Link 1| Link 2
  16. Isaiah Reese | Canisius | Junior | G | 6’5” | 185lb | Link
  17. Naz Reid | LSU | Freshman | F | 6’10” | 250lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  18. Simi Shittu | Vanderbilt | Freshman | F/C | 6’10” | 240lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  19. Tremont Waters | LSU | Sophomore | G | 5’11” | 175lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  20. Coby White | North Carolina | Freshman | G | 6’5” | 185lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  21. Lindell Wigginton | Iowa State | Sophomore | G | 6’2” | 189lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  22. Kris Wilkes | UCLA | Sophomore | G | 6’8” | 215lb | Link 1| Link 2

TESTING THE WATERS
* = Waiting on confirmation of declaration

  1. Bryce Aiken | Harvard | Junior | G | 6’0” | 175lb | Link
  2. *Tyus Battle | Syracuse | Junior | G | 6’6” | 205lb
  3. Jordan Bone | Tennessee | Junior | G | 6’3” | 180lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  4. Oshae Brissett | Syracuse | Sophomore | F | 6’8” | 210lb | Link
  5. Charlie Brown, Jr. | Saint Joseph’s | RS Sophomore | F | 6’7” | 199lb | Link
  6. Steven Enoch | Louisville | RS Junior | C | 6’10” | 260lb | Link 1| Link 2
  7. Talen Horton-Tucker | Iowa State | Freshman | G | 6’4” | 233lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  8. Nathan Knight | William & Mary | Junior | F/C | 6’10” | 245lb | Link 1| Link 2
  9. Sagaba Konate | West Virginia | Junior | F | 6’8” | 250lb | Link
  10. Jaylen Nowell | Washington | Sophomore | G | 6’4” | 200lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  11. Jordan Nwora | Louisville | Sophomore | F | 6’7” | 225lb | Link
  12. Reggie Perry | Mississippi State | Freshman | F | 6’10” | 245lb | Link 1 | Link 2 
  13. *Jontay Porter | Missouri | Sophomore | F | 6’11” | 240lb
  14. Myles Powell | Seton Hall | Junior | G | 6’2” | 195lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  15. Samir Sehic | Tulane | RS Junior | F | 6’9” | 235lb | Link
  16. Derrik Smits | Valparaiso (Transfer) | RS Junior | C | 7’1” | 240lb | Link 1| Link 2
  17. Jimmy Whitt, Jr. | SMU | Junior | G | 6’3” | 175lb | Link

RETURNING TO COLLEGE

  1. John Petty | Alabama | Sophomore | G | 6’5” | 197lb | Link
  2. LaMont West | West Virginia (transferring to Missouri State) | Junior | F | 6’8” | 222lb | Link

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WAITING TO HEAR FROM

  1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker | Virginia Tech | Sophomore | G | 6’5” | 205lb
  2. Udoka Azubuike | Kansas | Junior | C | 7’0” | 270lb
  3. Geo Baker | Rutgers | Sophomore | G | 6’4” | 180lb
  4. RJ Barrett | Duke | Freshman | F | 6’7” | 202lb
  5. Charles Bassey | Western Kentucky | Freshman | F | 6’11” | 245lb
  6. Darius Bazley | 1 year removed from high school | F | 6’9” | 200lb
  7. Marques Bolden | Duke | Junior | C | 6’11” | 250lb
  8. Brian Bowen | Sydney Kings (Australia) | F | 6’7” | 190lb
  9. Ignas Brazdeikis | Michigan | Freshman | F | 6’7” | 215lb
  10. Jordan Brown | Nevada | Freshman | F | 6’11” | 210lb
  11. Moses Brown | UCLA | Freshman | C | 7’1” | 245lb
  12. Taeshon Cherry | Arizona State | Freshman | F | 6’8” | 210lb
  13. Brandon Clarke | Gonzaga | RS Junior | F | 6’8” | 215lb
  14. Tyler Cook | Iowa | Junior | F | 6’9” | 250lb
  15. Jarrett Culver | Texas Tech | Sophomore | G | 6’6” | 195lb
  16. Silvio De Sousa | Kansas | Sophomore | F | 6’9” | 245lb
  17. Luguentz Dort | Arizona State | Freshman | G | 6’4” | 215lb
  18. Ayo Dosunmu | Illinois | Freshman | G | 6’5” | 185lb
  19. Devon Dotson | Kansas | Freshman | G | 6’2” | 185lb
  20. Carsen Edwards | Purdue | Junior | G | 6’1” | 200lb
  21. Bruno Fernando | Maryland | Sophomore | F | 6’10” | 240lb
  22. Quade Green | Kentucky | Freshman | G | 6’1” | 170lb
  23. Quentin Grimes | Kansas | Freshman | G | 6’5” | 210lb
  24. Kyle Guy | Virginia | Junior | G | 6’2” | 175lb
  25. Rui Hachimura | Gonzaga | Junior | F | 6’8” | 230lb
  26. Ashton Hagans | Kentucky | Freshman | G | 6’3” | 192lb
  27. Jaxson Hayes | Texas | Freshman | F | 6’11” | 220lb
  28. Tyler Herro | Kentucky | Freshman | G | 6’5” | 195lb
  29. Jaylen Hoard | Wake Forest | Freshman | F | 6’8” | 215lb
  30. Daulton Hommes | Point Loma (D2) | Junior | G | 6’8” | 215lb
  31. Markus Howard | Marquette | Junior | G | 5’11” | 175lb
  32. De’Andre Hunter | Virginia | RS Sophomore | G | 6’7” | 225lb
  33. Ty Jerome | Virginia | Junior | G | 6’5” | 195lb
  34. Keldon Johnson | Kentucky | Freshman | G | 6’6” | 211lb
  35. Herbert Jones | Alabama | Sophomore | G | 6’7” | 206lb
  36. Tre Jones | Duke | Freshman | G | 6’2” | 183lb
  37. Braxton Key | Virginia | Junior | G | 6’8” | 225lb
  38. Louis King | Oregon | Freshman | F | 6’9” | 205lb
  39. VJ King | Louisville | Junior | G/F | 6’6” | 215lb
  40. Joshua Langford | Michigan State | Junior | G | 6’5” | 210lb
  41. Dedric Lawson | Kansas | RS Junior | F | 6’9” | 235lb
  42. Jalen Lecque | High School (5th Year Senior) | G | 6’4” | 190lb
  43. Kalob Ledoux | Louisiana Tech | Junior | G | 6’3” | 190lb
  44. EJ Montgomery | Kentucky | Freshman | F | 6’10” | 225lb
  45. Zach Norvell, Jr. | Gonzaga | RS Sophomore | G | 6’5” | 205lb
  46. Chuma Okeke | Auburn | Sophomore | F | 6’8” | 230lb
  47. KZ Okpala | Stanford | Sophomore | F | 6’9” | 215lb
  48. Lamar Peters | Mississippi State | Junior | G | 6’0” | 185lb
  49. Jordan Poole | Michigan | Sophomore | G | 6’5” | 195lb
  50. Kevin Porter, Jr. | USC | Freshman | G | 6’6” | 218lb
  51. Payton Pritchard Oregon | Junior | G | 6’2” | 195lb
  52. Danjel Purifoy | Auburn | Junior | F | 6’7” | 230lb
  53. Neemias Queta | Utah State | Freshman | C | 6’11” | 240lb
  54. Cam Reddish | Duke | Freshman | F | 6’8” | 218lb
  55. Paul Reed | DePaul | Sophomore | F | 6’9” | 210lb
  56. AJ Reeves | Providence | Freshman | G | 6’6” | 210lb
  57. Nick Richards | Kentucky | Sophomore | F | 6’11” | 244lb
  58. Isaiah Roby | Nebraska | Junior | F | 6’8” | 230lb
  59. Javonte Smart | LSU | Freshman | G | 6’4” | 200lb
  60. Jalen Smith | Maryland | Freshman | F | 6’10” | 215lb
  61. Xavier Sneed | Kansas State | Junior | F | 6’5” | 220lb
  62. Killian Tillie | Gonzaga | Junior | F | 6’10” | 220lb
  63. Nick Ward | Michigan State | Junior | F | 6’9” | 245lb
  64. PJ Washington | Kentucky | Sophomore | F | 6’8” | 228lb
  65. Nick Weatherspoon | Mississippi State | Sophomore | G | 6’2” | 195lb
  66. Austin Wiley | Auburn | Junior | C | 6’11” | 260lb
  67. Grant Williams | Tennessee | Junior | F | 6’7” | 236lb
  68. Zion Williamson | Duke | Freshman | F | 6’7” | 285lb
  69. Cassius Winston | Michigan State | G | 6’1” | 185lb
  70. Kenny Wooten | Oregon | Sophomore | F | 6’9” | 235lb
  71. Omer Yurtseven | Georgetown | Junior | C | 7’0” | 275lb

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Remember to check back regularly as this article will be updated with each player announcement.

If you have updated information, please contact Isaac Schade (@isaacschade | isaacschade@gmail.com).

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Duke

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 88-72 road win over Duke on Wednesday night.

Highlights:

  • How absolutely sublime that in a year when all anyone can talk about is Duke’s freshmen, it was Carolina’s senior leadership that won this game. Luke Maye finished with 30 points (his first 20-point game against Duke), 15 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two turnovers. Cameron Johnson had 26 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and zero turnovers. And while Kenny Williams didn’t have the scoring numbers, he drew three charges, had five rebounds, four assists, one steal and zero turnovers. Maye has scored 20+ in four of the last six games, while Johnson has 27 and 26 points in the last two.
  • While the seniors had really strong games, the freshmen unfortunately struggled. Coby White finished with six turnovers and nine points, but on 3-for-14 shooting. He did corral five rebounds, dish out three assists and have two blocks. Nassir Little was essentially a non-factor and Leaky Black is still in street clothes.
  • With the freshmen struggling, it was up to the juniors and sophomores to help out. With White struggling, Seventh Woods provided 12 strong minutes. He scored five points, drew a charge, passed out three assists and had two steals. One of those steals led to the vicious Garrison Brooks dunk right before halftime. Speaking of Brooks, he was the other unexpected scoring contributor – 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and two steals.
  • The aforementioned Brooks dunk right before halftime was part of the most important sequence of the game. With 1:30 remaining before halftime, Duke cut the Carolina lead to five. Over the next 90 seconds, the Heels went on a 5-0 run to rebuild a double-digit lead. On two occasions early in the second half, Duke cut the lead back to nine, but the Heels led by double-digits for the remaining 18 minutes of the game. A week after Duke’s impressive comeback against Louisville, Carolina knew they had to keep playing. Every time Duke made a push, the Heels responded right back.
  • If you told me before the game that Carolina was going to shoot 2-for-20 from three and that Coby White was going to shoot 3-for-14 and have six turnovers, I would have thought there was no way Carolina wins. This team has been so dependent upon the outside shot this year.
  • Carolina wasn’t the only team to struggle from deep. The two teams combined to shoot 3-for-34 from three in the first half. Duke wound up shooting 8-for-39 for the game.
  • Part of the reason Carolina was able to overcome those shooting woes was their points in the paint. The Heels scored 30 of their first 32 points in the paint (12 of which were second chance buckets). Duke allows 30.0 points in the paint per game this season. Carolina more than doubled that number, finishing with a whopping 62.
  • And part of the reason Carolina was able to get those inside points was a knee injury to Zion Williamson less than a minute into the game. It’s unfortunate for the young man, who is a transcendent athlete. Hopefully he’ll be okay. It was obvious (with apologies to Tre Jones) that Williamson is the one who sets the defensive tone for Duke. Without him, the Blue Devils are extremely vulnerable defensively; particularly in the paint. The Williamson-less Blue Devils we saw tonight reminded me more of last year’s poor defensive team than the unit I’ve seen this year in Durham.
  • An important factor in Williamson’s absence was the freedom it allowed Luke Maye. Maye, who would have had a much more difficult time navigating Williamson’s defense, quickly scored six points against the replacement (Jack White) and was then off and running to a 30-point game.
  • Duke fans will say the injury cost Duke the game (and it certainly had a great impact), but the same could be said for Carolina’s game against Virginia last week. A game in which Carolina came much closer to winning than Duke did tonight. Even without Zion, Duke still has three of the top 10 freshmen (and two of the presumptive top-five NBA Draft picks) in the country. Plus, the game was played at Cameron (a.k.a. Hansbrough) Indoor Stadium.
  • It’s so vitally important to get off to a good start on the road (see Carolina’s 18-0 opening against Wake on Saturday). The Tar Heels jumped on top early, never trailed and built a double-digit lead seven-and-a-half minutes into the game.
  • 160 total points were scored in the game. Only 44 of those points (27.5 percent) were scored by someone not named Luke Maye, Cam Johnson, RJ Barrett or Cam Reddish.
  • Carolina is now 7-0 in the ACC in road games. The remaining two are at Clemson and at Boston College. Only one team has ever gone 9-0 on the road in ACC play – Virginia in 2017-18.
  • This was the 11th time in the Roy Williams / Mike Krzyzewski era that Carolina and Duke have met as top-10 opponents. After tonight’s win, Carolina now holds a 6-5 advantage in those games.

  • With the win (and given the tiebreaker over NC State), Carolina is now guaranteed no worse than the seventh seed in the ACC Tournament, including a first round bye.
  • The Heels are tied for first in the ACC with Virginia and Duke. Carolina’s next two games are against Florida State and Syracuse, the teams tied for fourth (and two games back in the loss column). The results of those two games will go a long way to determining who winds up with the top four seeds in the ACC Tournament (which comes with a first and second round bye). Carolina has the scheduling advantage of playing both these games in the Dean Dome.
  • Carolina now has victories over two of the four current projected number one seeds (Duke and Gonzaga) and came a few plays away from a third (Virginia). Duke has two wins over Virginia, but, outside of that, the Tar Heels arguably own the best pair of wins in the country.
  • Something to keep your eye on: Cam Johnson can’t seem to catch a break on the nagging injury front. This was the third game he’s missed part of because of an injury. Tonight he hurt his left ankle when stepping on a photographer four minutes into the second half. He came back in a couple minutes later and promptly hit a mid-range shot and later drew a charge. However, he appeared to re-tweak the ankle in the last minute of the game. Hopefully Cam will be okay for the quick turnaround against Florida State on Saturday.
  • Many celebrities were on hand for the game. Most notably was President Obama. Others included Spike Lee, Todd Gurley, Greg Olsen and Ken Griffey Jr.

 

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Florida State on Saturday, February 23. Tip is at 3:45ET on CBS.

Want to receive an email with Quick Hitters and other articles from Isaac Schade? Click here.

 

Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Kentucky (CBS Sports Classic)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 80-72 loss to Kentucky on Saturday afternoon in Chicago at the CBS Sports Classic.

Highlights:

  • For those of you traveling for the holidays that missed the game, you probably enjoyed the time you spent talking with your awkward aunt more than those of us who watched the game. It was painful. Here’s a microcosm that sums up what you missed: 54.3 seconds left. Carolina down eight. Kentucky’s Reid Travis misses front end of 1-and-1. P.J Washington was the only Wildcat lined up for the free throws. All 5 Tar Heels watch as Washington tips out the miss for an offensive rebound.
  • Both teams came into the game as dominant, top-level rebounding machines. Whichever team controlled the glass figured to be in position to win the game. Kentucky finished with a plus-10 margin (43-33) over Carolina. The typically offensive-rebound-happy Tar Heels only managed one in the first half and five total for the game. This marks the first time Carolina’s been outrebounded this season. The teams were close in just about every other stat. These rebounds tell the story of the game.
  • Turnovers, the live ball variety in particular, continue to be a bugaboo. Each time Carolina would get close to Kentucky, someone would commit a silly turnover leading to a run-out for the Wildcats. This happened frequently also against Gonzaga, but the offensive outpouring that night covered a world of sins. At some point, the horizontal, top-of-the-key live ball turnovers have to stop.
  • Cameron Johnson, who once again paced the team in scoring with 17, was the main turnover culprit (five). In fact, the starters combined to commit 14 of the 17 turnovers.
  • Kentuky’s Ashton Hagans is a blur and a disruptive defensive force. He finished with as many steals as points (seven). Hagans rolled his ankle midway through the first half, but was thankfully able to return. While we want to (thoroughly and soundly) beat all our opponents, we never want to see them injured.
  • Speaking of a blur, Coby White can seemingly get to the rim whenever he wants.
  • The game had an incredible pace to it early on. The teams were up and down the court.
  • Carolina had no answer for Stanford transfer Reid Travis. He finished with 16 points…in the first half. Brooks played him pretty well (particularly early in the second half) but there was a noticeable defensive drop-off when Manley subbed in.
  • Great energy from Seventh Woods early in the second half cut the lead down to four (47-43). After securing three offensive rebounds, Kentucky hit a three to immediately push the lead back to seven. Carolina never again got that close. Each time the Tar Heels began to cut into the lead, Kentucky responded with a bucket or a steal. Case in point: Carolina cut the lead down to six with just under seven minutes remaining. The Heels secured a defensive rebound but Hagans stole the outlet pass, which eventually resulted in a Wildcat three and a nine-point lead. From there, Carolina committed a live-ball back court turnover, resulting in another Kentucky breakaway lay-up.

  • A positive to walk away with: This was about as poor a performance as is seemingly possible from this group. Against Kentucky. And yet, the loss was only by eight points. What’s the take away? Clean up four or five of those lost possessions, and this is a different ball game.
  • Please keep in mind: Roy Williams teams have a proven track record of growing by leaps and bounds over the course of a season. Be patient and enjoy the evolution.
  • As well as this team typically scores, if they can hold on to the basketball, they should have a successful ACC record. If this team can’t learn to value the basketball, it will be a brutal ACC season. Back to the drawing board.
  • That said, whether it was Kentucky’s disruptive defense or just lack of precision, today’s offense was not marked by the usual certitude and team play. There was a lot of isolation and a lot of standing around. Baskets often felt lucky, rather than the foregone conclusions that they typically are.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Davidson on Saturday, December 29. Tip is at Noon ET on ESPN2.

Want to receive an email with Quick Hitters and other articles from Isaac Schade? Click here.

 

 

Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Gonzaga

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 103-90 home win on Saturday night over #4 Gonzaga.

Highlights:

  • What a big-time win in an incredible environment. Yes, Gonzaga is missing a starter and another key player, but they’re still good enough to be top five in the country. While you would love to add win over Kentucky to the résumé next Saturday, taking at least one of these two games is encouraging.
  • Welcome to the 1,000-point club Luke Maye! Maye becomes the 78thTar Heel to reach that milestone. The 1,000thpoint was a free throw tacked on to a dunk that put Carolina over the century mark. In fact, Maye was 7-for-7 on free throws, with the first six coming after being fouled while shooting three pointers. This was not only the Heels’ first signature win of the year, but also Maye’s first signature game: scoring 20 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.

  • While on the subject of Luke Maye, it is being said around basketball that his production has “really dropped off from last year”. He’s currently averaging 14.3 points to last year’s 16.9 when he neededto shoulder a bigger portion of the scoring load. He’s currently averaging 10.0 rebounds per game as compared to last year’s 10.1. While his field goal percentage (48.6 to 45.0) and three-point percentage (43.1 to 31.3) are down, his free throw percentage is up almost 20 percentage points (62.4 to 79.5). All that to say – Luke Maye is going to be juuuuuuust fine.
  • With a sample size of 10 games (roughly one quarter of the season), we can legitimately begin to look at season stats. Cameron Johnson is shooting 49.1 percent from deep, exactly 15 percentage points better than last year’s 34.1 percent. Johnson had an absurd night, leading all scorers with 25 on efficient shooting. While his six threes (including a shot-clock-ending desperation heave) were impressive, it was this dunk that was the most memorable:

  • Seventh Woods had a career-high 11 points – by halftime. The junior finished with 14 points. Woods made two three pointers, the first time he’s hit multiple in a game. In fact, two three pointers ties the number he hit in his first two seasons combined. Woods went on a personal 6-0 run over the last 1:16 of the first half to stretch an eight point lead back out to 14.

  • Coach Williams wants to dominate the glass, and dominate the glass the Heels did – 42-21. Additionally, Carolina had 14 offensive to Gonzaga’s five and outscored the Bulldogs by an overwhelming 27-0 on those second-chance opportunities.

  • The Tar Heels had to be that good on the boards to win because they coughed up a season high 23 turnovers, which led to 29 Bulldog points and kept Gonzaga in the game.
  • On several occasions Gonzaga out-Carolina-ed Carolina by getting pitch-aheads to a man streaking down the court behind the defense. This will no-doubt be a point of emphasis in the film room.
  • Much like the UNC-Wilmington game, the Heels showed much better defensive desire and did some things well, while others have room to grow. The want-to seems to be there, and that’s a step in the right direction. That said, as I predicted the final score resembled the UNC-Kentucky regular season game from 2016-17 in which the Wildcats won 103-100 behind 47 points from Malik Monk. In fact, Carolina finished with that exact same total tonight. Let’s just hope this season doesn’t wind up for the Heels the way that season wound up for Kentucky. But just for a reminder of how that season ended for Kentucky:
  • On five occasions in the second half, Gonzaga cut the lead to single digits. But on all five of those instances Carolina responded by scoring the next basket to push the lead back to double-digits. The Bulldogs are a team that can score in bunches, so maintaining the double-digit threshold provided security for the Heels. Although, once again, avoiding live ball turnovers and Carolina-like-run-outs would have placed an even larger cushion between the two teams.
  • Roy Williams has been saying how good a shooting team this is and that it would eventually break out. 13-for-25 (54.7 percent) from deep is a great example of that. Shooting that well from outside on a consistent basis will cover a multitude of sins in other facets of the game.
  • Leaky Black, who is dealing with patellar tendinitis, only played three minutes. But in that time he used his go-go-gadget arms to steal a pass and head in the other direction for an electrifying dunk. Sterling Manley also only scored two points, but it was a nice turnaround jump shot early in the second half.

  • I must unfortunately leave you with a sour taste in your mouth: The execution after the final media timeout left much to be desired. The play included several turnovers, some fouls and some missed clutch-ish free throws. Thankfully, the cushion in this game was large enough to absorb these gaffes, but that won’t always be the case.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the CBS Sports Classic in Chicago against Kentucky on Saturday, December 22. Tip is at 5:15ET on CBS.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. UNC-Wilmington

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 97-69 home win on Wednesday night over UNC-Wilmington.

Highlights:

  • There are scoring runs and then there are scoring runs. Luke Maye picked up his fourth foul with 17:16 remaining in the game and the Heels up 48-41. You might have been concerned. I was concerned. Should we have been? Nope. The Heels immediately went on a 16-0 run, which extended to an absurd 30-3 run. When Maye checked back in with 9:12 remaining the lead had ballooned from seven to 31 (75-44). Here’s Kenny Williams talking about the 53-point second half explosion:
  • The big concern of late has been the Tar Heels’ (lack of) defense. For the game, Carolina held UNC-Wilmington to 35.5 percent shooting, forced them into 25 turnovers, and scored 34 points off of those turnovers. It remains to be seen whether the defense was legitimately better, or just a product of playing (with apologies to UNC-Wilmington) an inferior team. We’ll get quick answers with the next two games being against Gonzaga and Kentucky.
  • After exploding out of the gate, Cameron Johnson’s scoring has tapered off the last couple games. He rebounded nicely tonight, leading all scorers with 21 points (ties his season high). Here’s Johnson talking about the game:
  • Coby White and Brandon Robinson both sat out the game with injuries. Despite missing those two regulars, nine different players played double-digit minutes. As has often been the case this season, no player played 30 minutes or more.

  • Seventh Woods earned his first career start in White’s absence. He had three assists and three turnovers, a wash. Woods’ biggest contribution was his aggressive play to help grow the lead immediately after Maye went to the bench with his fourth foul.
  • In addition to Woods’ three turnovers, Kenny Williams, Luke Maye, and Nassir Little each also had three. These key players will need to curtail their sloppiness with the ball. The good news is that after nine first half turnovers, the first turnover of the second half didn’t occur until six minutes in.
  • With White out, Leaky Black also played more than usual. He quietly had a rather effective showing – four points (on 2-for-3 shooting), three assists, zero turnovers and two steals. That type of steady play will be important for Carolina throughout the season.
  • Kenny Williams really has become an assist machine. Despite his three turnovers, the senior racked up eight assists. He is averaging 4.9 assists per game this season. For reference to a recent non-point guard playmaker, Theo Pinson averaged 5.1 assists per game last season. As a team, Carolina assisted on 23 of their 37 made baskets tonight.
  • Devontae Cacok is Wilmington’s leading scorer (15.9) and the nation’s leading rebounder (12.3). As you are aware, the Heels pride themselves on rebounding as well. Carolina held Cacok to just six points and six rebounds, as well as just 21 minutes of game action due to foul trouble. It was a classic case of the Heels working to get an opponent’s dominant big man in foul trouble. Overall Carolina won the rebounding battle 49-36.
  • The Tar Heels enjoyed a lopsided 50-16 advantage on points in the paint. Big men Garrison Brooks (seven), Sterling Manley (eight), and Brandon Huffman (seven) each had a meaningful contribution to that tally. Manley also came away with double-digit rebounds (10).

  • Wilmington overcame a 7-0 UNC lead to take a 24-22 lead just over midway through the first half. Carolina responded with a 10-0 to take a lead they would never relinquish.
  • KJ Smith desperately tried to get a three in the closing seconds in order to help Carolina hit the century mark, but couldn’t get one to stick. No biscuits. They’ll have to wait for another day.

Roy Williams postgame press conference (make sure to listen to the story at the end about former President George H.W. Bush who recently passed away.):

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Gonzaga on Saturday, December 15. Tip is at 7:00ET on ESPN2.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. UCLA (Las Vegas Invitational)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 94-78 victory on Friday afternoon over UCLA in the Las Vegas Invitational.

Highlights:

  • I must be honest, during the first half I was prepared to say that this game was essentially just a continuation of all the same issues from the Texas game (and the first half was). I could have said, “I don’t need to write Quick Hitters tonight, just re-read last night’s.” I had the early season tournament cliché all lined up: “It’s always said of these mini tournaments that a really good team is going to leave 0-2. Unfortunately in this instance, that team was Carolina.” But then the second half happened and I had to scratch all of that.
  • I was curious to see how Coby White would follow up his big night. Was the 33-point explosion just a foreshadowing of things that would come later in the season or the new normal? White responded by scoring 10 of Carolina’s first 17 and finished with 19 total points on 6-for-11 shooting, including 4-for-7 from three. While 19 is certainly less than 33, this was a more impressive performance because he didn’t just create for himself but also dished out eight assists to teammates (against only two turnovers). This balance of scoring and assisting is exactly what Coach Williams will be looking for. All-in-all a great two game stretch from the freshman point guard.

  • The one thing White struggled with was foul trouble. Seventh Woods was still out with a concussion, so Leaky Black once again handled the back-up point guard minutes. Thursday night, the offense severely bogged down with Black running the show. While his stat line wasn’t gaudy against UCLA, he didn’t turn the ball over, had two assists and scored five points on 2-for-3 shooting. Black is gaining valuable experience and looking more comfortable running the team. His best play came early in the second half. With UNC up 55-54, Black blocked a shot (the ball hit the backboard first; it was an obvious goal tend…shhhhh don’t tell anyone), corralled the loose ball and threw a court length bounce pass to Kenny Williams for the fast break layup. Here’s that sequence:

  • Carolina has committed double-digit turnovers in every game thus far, including 18 and 17 in the previous two games. White turned the ball over on the first possession of the game and we appeared to be headed for more of the same. However the Heels committed only four more the rest of the half and just one in the second half for a season low of six.
  • The senior trio of Luke Maye, Kenny Williams, and Cam Johnson struggled mightily shooting against Texas. Those woes carried over into the first half of the UCLA game. However in the second half they shot a combined 10-for-12, totaling 30 of Carolina’s 53 points.
  • It’s been well documented that Kenny Williams has been struggling with his shot this year (although had a great shooting performance against UCLA). Rather than sulking, he’s found a new way to contribute offense by turning himself into Theo Pinson-type play maker. Prior to this year, Williams averaged 1.6 assists per game. This year he’s averaging a career-high 4.7 assists per game and 3.3 assist-to-turnover ratio. Here’s to hoping there will be a lot of Tar Heels pointing at Kenny Williams throughout this season.

  • Johnson was on fire after halftime, scoring the Heels’ first nine points. The most impressive of which was his second bucket. After burying a three on the previous possession, he could have easily decided to hoist another, but wisely chose to drive baseline for a lay-up. He followed up that play with a steal on UCLA’s next possession, which he quickly returned to Carolina’s basket for two more points. Here’s all three of those plays:

  • UCLA’s 7’1” freshman Moses Brown has had an impressive start to his college career. There was some concern how Carolina’s bigs would handle Brown’s presence. Cutting to the chase, Brown fouled out with 7:40 remaining having only played eight minutes.
  • Garrison Brooks had two under-the-radar-but-very-important plays that you might have missed. One showed up in the box score, the other didn’t. First, UCLA had the ball, up seven, with about 5:30 left before halftime. Brandon Robinson got a steal and Brooks somehow slapped the ball ahead to Coby White for a fast break dunk. No box score assist to Brooks (that went to Robinson for some reason), but a huge play and UCLA never pushed their lead back to double-digits. The other notable play was Brooks’ only two points of the night. The Bruins had cut Carolina’s lead down to seven and fouled Brooks with 7:40 remaining. He stepped to the line, a career 59.5 percent free throw shooter, and calmly sunk both free throws to push the lead back to nine. Here’s the “slap-ahead”:

  • Defense still needs to be cleaned up. The Heels allowed UCLA to hit their first seven shots and nine of their first 11 shots. The Bruins’ first miss came almost five minutes into the game. Once again, staying in front of the ball is of the utmost importance. Carolina played much tougher and attentive defense in the second half, even securing a shot clock violation at 12:19.
  • Nassir Little was in much more intentional attack mode this game; not settling for jump shots. The highlight of the game was his go-ahead dunk at the 12:00 minute mark of the second half, after which the Heels never again trailed. Here’s the dunk:
  • A stat it would be easy to miss, part 1: Brandon Robinson had four assists and zero turnovers.
  • A stat it would be easy to miss, part 2: reserve KJ Smith has scored in every game in which he’s played so far this season.
  • The Las Vegas Invitational promised to teach us a lot about this team. And it did. But there’s still a lot to learn. How would these games have looked with Seventh Woods in the mix? How will the freshmen respond to a true road environment against a strong defensive opponent (Michigan)? Stay tuned because games against Michigan, Gonzaga and Kentucky over the next several weeks will be revelatory.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game against Michigan in the ACC / Big Ten Championship. Tip is on Wednesday, November 28 at 9:00ET on ESPN.

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