The North Carolina Tar Heels got some good news when senior combo guard Dexter Strickland was cleared to play. Strickland tweeted the news of his upgraded status on Monday. Strickland tore his ACL and was lost for the season, after playing just 19 games for Carolina last year.
Finally cleared to play!!
— Dexter Strickland (@DStrick01) August 27, 2012
Strickland was injured on January 19th against Virginia Tech and has been rehabbing ever since. Losing Strickland was a tough blow to the Heels in what was the first of a string of injuries that ultimately derailed the teams national championship hopes. The Heels who were thin at the point guard position last season and relied on Strickland to serve as the starting shooting guard and backup point, are in the same position again this season.
Head coach Roy Williams had said as recently as July that he wasn’t sure if Strickland would be ready by the time training camp rolled around and that the senior guard may be limited when the season began. Details at this point are unknown in terms of how far along Strickland is in his rehab but his earlier than expected clearance date is certainly a positive for Carolina.
The Heels are deep on the perimeter this season with Reggie Bullock, PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald also returning and incoming freshman JP Tokoto joining the mix. UNC isn’t nearly as fortunate at the PG position where incoming freshman Marcus Paige will take the reins from Kendall Marshall who departed for the NBA after his sophomore season in Chapel Hill.
The Heels will rely on a combination of Strickland and walk on transfer Luke Davis to backup Paige, meaning Strickland is the only player on the Heels roster with any experience running the point for Roy Williams.