Joel James Improving but Do the Stats Show It?
Anyone who follows UNC can see that Joel James has improved his play over the past five ACC games, but how big of an impact is the center having. James is staying on the floor longer avoiding silly fouls that plagued him earlier in the season, but in thirty nine minutes of play in these games the freshman has only five rebounds. Desmond Hubert gave Roy Williams virtually nothing in his ten minutes of action Saturday and of the two centers on the team that are limited offensively is it time to increase Jame’s minutes to prepare for the future?
Brice Johnson and Jackson Simmons were a combined 6-11 for 12 points in Raleigh however Johnson rushed several shots and looked out matched by NC States more mature front line. Jackson Simmons has made the most of his minutes despite being posterized by CJ Leslie. Simmons had six points on 3-3 shooting in 15 minutes of action.
Although clumsy at times James displays the skills of a young Brendan Haywood. As you recall Haywood struggled to find minutes as a freshmen and moved awkwardly in the half court. North Carolina is not going to win a national championship this season and needs to develop a presence under the basket. Too many lay ups were allowed because there isn’t anyone around the basket to swat away mistakes as John Henson was able to do last season. Can James turn into that player? He looks to be a better option than Hubert at this point if Coach Williams continues to play a true five at the center position. Brice Johnson is a better shot blocker, but the slender freshman is still not physically mature enough to handle guys on the block. The answers to UNC’s low post woes are probably answered with an incoming freshman for next season as Kennedy Meeks is built similarly to former UNC great Sean May.