UNC Would You Rather: Gio Bernard or Andrew Wiggins?


Two of the bigger offseason season storylines coming from Chapel Hill this summer were Coach Roy’s courtship of Andrew Wiggins and Coach Fedora’s loss of running back Giovanni Bernard to the NFL. Andrew Wiggins was the top recruit coming out of high school, and selected North Carolina as one of his final four schools before finally choosing Kansas. Giovanni Bernard was a redshirt sophomore running back last season for the Heels, running for over 1000 yards and showing many flashes of brilliance throughout the season. Carolina lost both Wiggins and Gio, but if you could pick one of the two to magically become a Tar Heel for next season, which would it be? Would you rather have Andrew Wiggins or Gio Bernard?

Credit: USA Today Sports

I think the best way to debate this would be to compare the two star athletes in three categories:

  • UNC’s need for them next season
  • Their talent level
  • The impact they could have next season


Coach Roy Williams knew getting Wiggins would be somewhat of a long shot, so he planned accordingly, keeping enough wing depth around for the 2013-2014 season that UNC would not be left with a hole on the perimeter. But, Williams did not plan for the PJ Hairston situation that occurred over the summer, so depending on how that situation plays itself out, UNC could be left a little thin on the wing. The Tar Heels have senior Leslie McDonald and sophomore JP Tokoto slated to get a majority of the small forward minutes, and both should play well in expanded roles this season. However, the addition of Wiggins would sure up the perimeter, putting less pressure on McDonald and Tokoto to perform in big minutes for Carolina.

Despite losing Gio Bernard, UNC’s football team has some healthy depth at the running back position. Incoming freshmen TJ Logan and Khris Francis will nicely compliment returning rushers AJ Blue and Romar Morris, and all four are talented and ready to contribute. I don’t think UNC needs Gio in this circumstance as much as they would like to have him in the backfield making plays. I think the first category, their team’s need for them next season, goes to Wiggins.


If Andrew Wiggins had chosen Carolina, he could have stepped on campus and been the man offensively right from the start. He could have easily averaged 20 points a game for the Tar Heels, and most experts agree that if he chose UNC, the Tar Heels would have jumped into the top five in the national preseason rankings. But just because a recruit is ranked number one doesn’t automatically mean he isn’t going struggle a bit as he adjusts to college. UNC landed top recruit Harrison Barnes in 2010, yet he never really shined much brighter than all of UNC’s other top 50 recruits.

Unlike Wiggins, as long as Gio stayed healthy, we knew what he would be bringing to the table. Gio would probably have rushed for 1000 yards again in his third season as a Tar Heel, and would have been right there in the conversation for ACC Player of the Year and maybe best running back in the nation. He even had his two spotlight games set up- the South Carolina game and the Miami game, both on Thursday nights and on ESPN. I think in this case that Gio could have had more impact for the Heels in his third season than Wiggins could have had in his first.


Gio Bernard was a four star recruit according to Scout.com coming out of high school, and his talent showed his freshman season at Carolina. He could run around, through, or just past defenders, and had a knack for making special plays on the field. That talent level was justified with his second round selection in the NFL Draft; he was the first running back taken.

There is no denying that Andrew Wiggins has talent. All you have to do is type his name in on YouTube and watch the first couple plays in a highlight reel. He might even have been the first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft had he been eligible. Its hard to compare anyone in pure talent to Andrew Wiggins, because he might be the most talented basketball player to come out of high school since LeBron James. I think Wiggins gets the nod here.

So the final tally is Wiggins- 2 and Gio- 1. I would rather have superstar talent Andrew Wiggins in Carolina Blue next season. I think that is a fair conclusion; I know the running backs will be fine without Gio, but our basketball team really could have used all the talent and athleticism that Andrew Wiggins would have brought with him to Chapel Hill. What do you think? You can voice your opinion in the comment box below.