Continuing on with our Report Card series, let’s evaluate Carolina’s only other departing player after Dexter. Reggie Bullock.
What can’t you say that’s good about Reggie Bullock as a Tar Heel fan? Absolutely nothing. Reggie really came into this season and stepped up into a big time leader and a major contributor in a situation that really required him to. Reggie was recruited as an over sized shooting guard that could play either spot on the wing and had unlimited range. With injuries bringing him down as a freshman and four other guys featuring more of the spotlight within the Tar Heel system as a sophomore, we really didn’t know what Reggie could bring to the table. We knew Reggie could defend really well, which he did again as a junior, and we knew Reggie could shoot, but we didn’t know whether or not he could apply them for an entire season. He proved us time and time again, that he could.
Three point shooters are always valuable to have on a roster and good three point shooters can really be game changers in the college game. Reggie shot 43.6% from three which was good for third in the conference behind the likes of Scott Wood and Seth Curry. His breakout season as a shooter could not have been timed any better with Carolina suffering from a lack of experience front court play. The Heels found themselves relying on the strength of their shooting in order to win games and it’s pretty clear that an NCAA tournament berth would have likely not taken place if the shooting wasn’t up to par.
With Bullock rapidly and consistently becoming the big focal point of opposing teams’ defenses over the course of the season, Reggie had to find ways to get off clean shots and he did that by oving around without the ball. I have to say, Reggie was exceptionally good at creating space for himself by moving without the basketball and I have come to the conclusion that he was the best shooter Carolina has had in recent memory to utilize this under appreciated skill. Guys like Wayne Ellington and Danny Green had Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough to draw in defense with their abilities to do so much damage around the basket, Rashad McCants had Sean May and Raymond Felton on his team, and Harrison Barnes had Kendall Marshall passing him the basketball. Bullock had an inexperience front court and point guard to work with, but that certainly did not slow him down or prevent him for getting the ball in space. One thing that really helps players move without the ball are their teammates setting good screens and Reggie was fortunate enough to have teammates around him that slowed down pursuing defenders with good screens. Once Reggie found the screen and got in space, he possessed the ability to pull the trigger with a quick release. Shooters have a much easier time making long distance jump shots when they have time to set, but when they have to catch and release on the run, the probability of making the basket goes way down. For Reggie to shoot the percentage he did while shooting the majority of his threes from a catch and release stand point is truly remarkable and was a huge difference maker for the team.
If there was one thing the Bullock did well that rivaled the importance of his three point shooting, it was rebounding. Bullock averaged 6.5 boards per game this past season which is huge production from a guard and a huge boost for a team that was without Tyler Zeller and John Henson grabbing every miss in sight. The Heels, in general, struggled as a team when it came to rebounding after they moved to a small lineup later in the season. With Reggie crashing the boards after every shot, it gave him and his teammates tons of important second chance looks. With his height as a guard, he’ll certainly provide NBA teams with value in the rebounding category.
If there were aspects of Reggie’s game that could have been better for Roy Williams, it would have to have been his mid range game. Not that he was awful as a mid range shooter, but he just seemed way more comfortable on the outside and on the glass. The way Reggie played his game was dependant on how much space he had to work. Typically for a player like Reggie, when you move without the ball and shoot off screens inside the arc, you still are having to deal with another pair of hands that rotate over to help defend causing for altered shots and unclean looks. It also seemed that Reggie’s shot, in general, was a little more flat inside the arc than it was when he shot from three. If Reggie had a well developed mid range game, he could have been an all around weapon that defenses would not have been able to handle.
In my opinion, Reggie was the team’s best player, mid range game not withstanding, and certainly the most consistent for the Heels all season long. The effort he put in on the defensive end and the boards on a nightly basis was unparrallel and the arrival of his lethal shooting ability really gave Carolina the added dimension it needed to get over the top and into the post season. I’m sad as a fan that he’s forgoing his final season in Chapel Hill because he will be missed without question, but Tar Heel nation cannot thank him enough for what he provided us as a player this past season.
Final Grade: A