College Hoops Today’s Jon Rothstein is all-in on North Carolina basketball this season. Last week, the college basketball insider named Armando Bacot (first-team), Caleb Love (second team), and RJ Davis (third team) as preseason All-Americans.
As a junior last season, Bacot became the first Tar Heel to lead the team in scoring (16.3), rebounding (13.1), field goal percentage (56.9), and blocks (65) in consecutive seasons. He also led the nation with an NCAA-record tying 31 double-doubles.
“This 6-10 big man had a double-double in all eight of his postseason games last spring, averaging an impressive 15.1 points and 15.5 rebounds during that span,” Rothstein wrote. “After leading North Carolina to within inches of a national title last spring, Bacot is back as a bonafide National Player of the Year candidate.”
As a sophomore in 2021-22, Love finished second on the team in points (15.9) and tied for first in assists (3.6) per game. His 38 percent clip from three-point range ranked third on the team (min. 20 attempts) and was a vast improvement from his freshman year average of 26.6 percent. His shot-making ability was leaned on heavily during late-game moments throughout the year.
“Love’s overall shot-making and level of play reached a different level late last season — especially in the NCAA Tournament,” Rothstein said. “The 6-4 guard scored 30 points in the Sweet 16 against UCLA and tallied 28 in the Final Four against Duke. Like Bacot, Love returned to school with the intention of bringing another national title to Chapel Hill in 2023.”
Preseason All-Americans for the 2022-23 college basketball season.
– First Team
– Honorable Mentionhttps://t.co/ztpFFu7T5f
—Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) September 10, 2022
The Tar Heels also returned one of their unsung heroes in Davis, who averaged 13.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists as a sophomore last season. Davis’ 36.7 percent clip from three ranked second on the team behind Brady Manek (min. 35 attempts).
“Bacot and Love get the bulk of the attention when it comes to the Tar Heels, but the 6-foot Davis is also one of the best players in the sport,” Rothstein said. “A New York native, Davis averaged 14.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, and five assists in six NCAA Tournament games last spring and scored 30 in the Round of 32 against Baylor.”
After reaching the National Championship game last season, the Tar Heels returned four of their five starters. They did lose Brady Manek, but have replaced him with Northwestern grad transfer Pete Nance, who is expected to start in UNC’s frontcourt alongside Bacot.
Nance averaged 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds as a senior for the Wildcats last season.
The Tar Heels also added a talented recruiting class that ranked No. 14 in the nation and included four-stars Seth TrimbleTyler Nicke and Jalen Washington.
Due to the return of Love and Bacot, in particular, the Tar Heels have been tabbed by several analysts, including Rothstein and Dick Vitale, as the preseason No. 1 team in the nation.