This afternoon North Carolina guard Leslie McDonald was reinstated by the NCAA and will be eligible to play tonight, December 18th, against Texas. McDonald is expected to come off the bench against the Longhorns and see limited action in his first game since UNC”s second round exit in the NCAA tournament against Kansas. In a statement released by UNC, Leslie said “I feel blessed to play again for UNC.”
Now that Leslie has returned, what is his expected impact for tonight’s game against Texas? First of all, don’t expect a humungous change in anything that UNC will do on offense. He is a good player, but he isn’t so talented that UNC will be forced to change around their offensive gameplans for him. Still expect UNC to play the same style, except with Leslie in, UNC’s backcourt will have much more of a three point threat.
The most immediate impact Leslie has is that he will add to UNC’s wing depth. You can expect to see less minutes for Luke Davis, Nate Britt, and JP Tokoto going forward as McDonald is worked into the rotation slowly. For tonight against Texas, expect McDonald to play around 15-20 minutes and maybe hit a three pointer.
Another big twitter question is how Leslie’s return will affect UNC’s chemistry. Leslie’s value will be in shooting threes and defense, not in hogging possessions on offense. The current chemistry UNC has should not be affected too much by McDonalds return because in these first few games, Leslie will just be playing JP Tokoto’s role and adding three point shooting to UNC’s SG and SF positions.
In the long term, UNC’s national championship hopes are greatly aided with the return of McDonald. He stretches the floor for UNC and can contribute 2-4 three pointers a night even in a bench or 6th man role. Eventually, Leslie will probably take JP Tokoto’s spot in the starting lineup, but don’t expect that change to happen anytime before ACC play. Tokoto has made great strides so far this season playing extra minutes while Leslie and PJ were gone, and Coach Roy will reward his improved play with the starting job at least for a couple more games. The whole situation of how McDonald impacts UNC’s chemistry, starting lineup, and performance going forward will be interesting to watch.