UNC Basketball: The Players and their Roles Part 2


It’s time for part two of my player roles segment. Last week I focused on our upper classmen and what their roles were on the Carolina basketball team. This week, we take a look at our sophomores.

Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

James Michael McAdoo – JMM is supposed to be the leading everything for this UNC team. At least, that’s what the hype is telling us. With the way Roy has loved to work things down into the post in years past, it would seem that JMM will continue to get a bulk of the looks in the offense. I think at the beginning of the season, we needed McAdoo to be the guy that averaged 15+ ppg and had has nights with 20+. He is getting 14 ppg now, but he isn’t logging those points effectively. Occasionally, he’ll get a fast break or a wide open layup, but for the most part he’s been shooting poorly from the field. That can more than likely be attributed to he shot selection, but it’s certainly no excuse. At this point in the season, UNC needs JMM to still be a double figure scorer every night, but they need to him to be a guy that’s more aggressive offensively than he has been. JMM’s goal should be to get opposing big men in foul trouble early by attacking the basket and drawing contact, both of which, he is certainly capable of doing. The contact will get JMM to the free throw line a lot more often and will give him free chances at some points. If JMM does that more often and continues to play the same defensive game, UNC will greatly benefit.

PJ Hairston — PJ’s role I’d say, has evolved a little bit since the season began. When the Tar Heels’ campaign revved up, Hairston was a guy that would be looked at in order to knock down threes off of the bench like Leslie McDonald. PJ will still need to hit his jump shots no doubt, but instead of a second McDonald off of the bench, I see PJ as more of a Reggie Bullock off the bench. He’s a guy that can light up the scoreboard, as evident against Florida State, but he does it in a very multidimensional way. His touch and range allow for him to make long range jumpers, but his size and athletic ability allow him to drive the lane and finish at the rim with such power. Not only will he need to score consistently, but PJ is going to have to be on his defensive game every night as well. Lack of depth and experience in Carolina’s front court cause PJ to match up against opposing post players as well as wings. With Coach Williams needing Hairston to be that versatile, he needs to prove that he isn’t just an extra body on defense. When his intensity is high, PJ can deny passing lanes and bang the boards with the best of them. The problem is that the intensity always has to be high, otherwise, PJ can get lazy. With PJ though, Carolina has a weapon that can be more of an all-around threat and it plays to their advantage that he comes in as a substitute. I think if PJ can command this role and play consistently well in all areas of the game, UNC will be a tough team to beat.

Desmond Hubert — Defensive presence. That’s Desmond’s role point blank. He represent’s the only real legitimate defensive option in the low post for the Tar Heels. Hubert has never been a scorer like JMM or Brice Johnson, but in what Roy Williams needs him to, there isn’t much reason for it. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Hubert get a chance to go up strong for a dunk, like he did against Florida St., but I’d much rather see him block/alter shot and take away any easy put backs by getting those tough rebounds. It’s looking like Desmond is the starter down low for potentially the remainder of the season and if he isn’t going to put up points, he needs to go above and beyond for the team defensively.

Jackson Simmons — It’s funny, beacause I never anticipated that I would include Jackson in the segment. However, after his breakout performace against the Seminoles, I have no choice. Simmons isn’t a guy, regardless of how well he plays, that will have a ton of minutes, but when he is in the game, he will be looked to rebound, hustle, and play smart basketball. If Carolina can get eight points out of him, then that in itself is a victory, but it won’t happen every night. His value comes from adding energy to the court and doing the grunt work that sets up the team to do good things. Simmons is becoming a fan favorite based on that playing style and with the team struggling to find their identity, having his energy and heart at their disposal should only help matters.

Tune in for Part 3 next week on KIH.