North Carolina has started three different players at the center position this season in the first nine games of the season and still have yet to figure out which guy will be “the guy” going forward. Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams started the season with sophomore Desmond Hubert for the first six games of the season before switching to Brice Johnson for one game then going back to Hubert only to hand the reigns to Joel James for the last two games.
If you simply look at minutes per game James has played the most per game at 16.5 followed by Johnson at 14.1 and Hubert at 10.1
While Hubert has started six of nine games this season he has played the least and routinely has sat out the majority of the second half with one of the freshman starting after halftime and the two sharing most the minutes inside beside James Michael McAdoo. I’m not very concerned about the actual starting spot at this point as much as I am the minutes played and Roy doesn’t seem to care about who starts either, here’s what he had to say in his post game press conference (video below also).
Entering the season, did you expect it to be back and forth between those three guys at center?
“I have no idea because I never think of those things. I really don’t. I don’t spend any of my time thinking about who is going to start because I don’t choose who starts , they do. I just write the names up on the board “
Now that it seems clear that Hubert will not be making another start inside I’m perfectly fine with either James or Johnson in the starting five. Johnson has emerged as such an effective offensive player while James has demonstrated a knack for defense my feeling is that both need increased minutes and despite Roy not saying so, I feel like we’re headed in that direction.
Jackson Simmons played just four minutes despite the blowout win Saturday night which could be taken as a sign that he won’t be seeing any playing time in highly competitive games. I also think we will start to see Huberts minutes fall off more and more as the freshman continue to play stellar basketball. But for now at least, the starting job is a mystery.