The Tar Heels were bounced from the NCAA Tournament Sunday night in the third round by a final score of 85-83. DeAndre Kane and Iowa State Cyclones moved on to the Sweet 16 to face UConn in Madison Square Garden.
This means that the 2013-14 season is officially over, while the 2014-15 season of Tar Heel Basketball officially starts tonight! The 14-15 Carolina squad will be loaded with new McDonalds All-Americans and lots of returning talent. Marcus Paige, James Michael McAdoo and the rest of the gang should be back next season, along with a Top-3 recruiting class, headlined by SF Justin Jackson.
Its never too early to take a stab at what the 2014-2015 starting lineup will look like, so lets give it our best shot! Of course, there is a lot that will change between now and Late Night with Roy in October, but we will assume that nobody leaves for the NBA this summer and that everyone enters next season healthy and ready to go.
Point Guard: Joel Berry
Joel Berry is the third ranked point guard in the class of 2014 by ESPN, and he will come into Chapel Hill with high expectations. I expect Berry to compete with Marcus Paige and Nate Britt for one of the two guard slots in the starting lineup. I think Britt will start the 2014-15 season coming off the bench, but you could make a good argument for either Justin Jackson or Theo Pinson in this spot as a small forward. I just think Paige has adjusted to playing shooting guard this season, and Berry can act as the facilitator and primary ball handler in the starting lineup in 2014-15.
Shooting Guard: Marcus Paige
Marcus Paige will enter 2014-15 will sky-high expectations for his junior season. This year, he developed into one of the top guards in the ACC and one of the most clutch players in the nation. Whenever UNC needed a basket in any game this season, Paige would deliver with a clutch three pointer or a timely floater in the lane. Paige averaged 17 points a game on 44% shooting and 38.9 percent three point shooting in 2013-14, and I expect Paige’s numbers to be even better next year.
Small Forward: J.P. Tokoto
Tokoto showed flashes of his potential in his first two years at Carolina, and I expect 2014-15 to be the year that he puts it all together and makes an All-ACC team. Tokoto is one of the most athletic players in all of college basketball and is always a threat to deliver a thunderous slam in transition. If Tokoto can improve his jumper this summer and add that threat to his already strong defense, rebounding and athletic skills, he could be a candidate for the ACC’s most improved player next year.
Power Forward: James Michael McAdoo
McAdoo is the wildcard to next year’s projected starting lineup. I already started the debate on Twitter after the game on whether or not McAdoo will return for his senior season. My guess would be he returns for one more year to try and chase a Final Four and an ACC Championship. UNC will really need JMM’s experience and talent on its front line next season. I expect all of UNC’s young bigs to greatly improve heading into next season, but McAdoo’s leadership as a senior could really help next year’s team reach their goals.
Center: Brice Johnson
Just like with Joel Berry, you could talk me into other choices for the 5th starting spot on UNC next season. Johnson was arguably UNC’s best offensive post threat in his sophomore season, and after an offseason training program and some added weight, I expect Johnson to be even better. He could develop into a John Henson type on offense and defense if he can continue to improve his shot blocking skills and add some more weapons to his offensive arsenal. Kennedy Meeks also could make a case for this starting spot after he sheds some more weight this summer.