For six months now, Tar Heel nation has had to hear about how weak their team is on the low post. The critics would harp on how many points and rebounds North Carolina lost when Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes bolted for the NBA. They would say that while James Michael McAdoo is a great talent, he’s not a true post player and they would say that incoming freshmen Brice Johnson and Joel James are too unproven and inexperienced to fill the void. All points are valid, but they are forgetting about one other Tar Heel post player that will make an impact this season. Desmond Hubert.
Now Hubert is no Henson or Zeller, but he doesn’t have to be. All Hubert needs to be is effective doing what he’s best at. Hubert is 6-9 and very long and athletic. His reach gives Carolina a much needed threat down low in terms of rebounding the ball and blocking shots. Where Zeller and Henson placed so much value for Carolina last season outside of scoring points was in those areas. With those two players down low, North Carolina led the nation in rebounds per game two seasons in a row and Henson himself led the ACC in block shots during that two year span as well. Hubert’s style of play should go a long way for the Heels this season to help make up some of that difference.
Hubert’s main strength may be defense, but he is an underrated scorer on the offensive side of the ball. His stats may only read that he had just 17 points in 123 minutes last season (0.7 ppg), but Hubert’s role was really very limited. Now that his minutes will undoubtedly increase, we should get more of a look at Desmond’s post moves. Believe it or not, Hubert has pretty good touch around the basket which is centered around an above average jump hook. Hubert certainly isn’t a physical guy down low like McAdoo and will get more points using his reach and finesse. I’d say that Hubert’s biggest flaw offensively is his free throw shooting ability. Last season Desmond went 1-17 at the line.
Desmond Hubert certainly isn’t the ideal replacement for two first round draft picks, but he will be more than serviceable. I really think that Desmond will come into his own towards the midway point of the season once he finds his identity. He needs to remember that he isn’t one of his predecessors and just play his game. I think with his athleticism, reach, and ability to run the floor, he will be a solid post option for the Tar Heels. I think we can expect Desmond to make big plays defensively down low for a team that will most certainly need it and his ability to grab boards will ultimately aid his team in victory. Look for Hubert to become an important everyday guy in his new role as a sophomore this season.