It is tough to imagine a North Carolina basketball player with a journey like Leaky Black. Over the last four seasons, the 6-foot-8 Concord, NC native has struggled through losses, searched for a role and a position, and experienced a coaching change. Black has seen just about everything one cane during his UNC career.
Black’s experience and his journey is what makes him unique as a player and person. The breakthrough came last season as he emerged as an elite defender for the Tar Heels and a key glue guy in UNC’s Final Four run.
Black’s averages in 2021-22 were meager but important – 4.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game, but his acceptance of his role as a defensive stopper for Hubert Davis’s team catapulted the team and Black himself into the one of the most memorable postseasons runs in program history.
Below is Inside Carolina’s preview for Black, who enters his fifth season at North Carolina.
“I think Leaky Black has become a fan favorite for the Tar Heels,” Inside Carolina‘s Adam Smith said. “He’s become the heartbeat and the conscience of the team. Leaky said when he wasn’t elected captain last year and that hurt him. It will be interesting how that is determined this year, but Leaky does so much of the dirty work that other players don’t want to do and it’s invaluable.”
Black’s role last season saw him blanketing point guards like Kehei Clark of Virginia one night or banging with the NBA’s number one draft pick, Paulo Banchero, the next. He believes he can do more.
“Obviously offensively be more of a threat,” Black said. “I feel like the three-and-D (role) is a good deal for me, but I feel I could do more offensively. I’m just now starting to come out of my shell.”
Black enters the 2022-23 season as one of the best and most versatile defenders in the nation and an early favorite for ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
“Lockdown Leaky,” said Smith. “He provides an asset and even a weapon that some teams simply don’t have. Time and again, Leaky was able to take on the toughest defensive assignment on the wing and deliver for UNC.”
Coach Davis certainly understands the importance of his fifth-year senior’s return and how Black’s experience in college basketball can help this team reach the pinnacle they fell just short of last season.
“His passion for this program, this University, team, and basketball is what drives him.” Davis said. “His commitment, leadership, and personality are what keeps this team so close… I’m looking forward to Leaky building on the unbelievable season he had (last) year, and I’m looking forward to him cementing his legacy on this program even more than he already has.”