UNC Basketball: 2016-17 Projected Starting Lineup with Woods


UNC Basketball got great news on Wednesday afternoon when elite high school recruit Seventh Woods committed to play for the Tar Heels.

Woods is the third commit in the Class of 2016 for the Tar Heels…

After adding Woods, the Tar Heels now have one of the top recruiting classes in the country despite facing so much uncertainty regarding “the NCAA situation” in Chapel Hill.

Hats off to Roy Williams for putting together this class under these circumstances.

Now that the Class of 2016 is starting to take shape, and now that UNC has three commits already in the bag, let’s take a look at the potential impact on UNC’s starting lineup for the 2016-17 season. Here are the players who will be departing after the 15-16 season, either by graduation or for the NBA draft…

Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Justin Coleman, Toby Egbuna, Joel James, Spencer Dalton (graduation)

Justin Jackson (leave early for pros) (probably)

That would leave these players as the roster for the 2016-17 season

Backcourt: Nate Britt, Joel Berry II, Kenny Williams, Brandon Robinson, Seventh Woods, Theo Pinson, Kanler Coker, Stilman White

Frontcourt: Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, Luke Maye, Tony Bradley

Let’s project what the starting lineup will look like for next season with that roster in mind.

Point Guard: Joel Berry II

Joel Berry II will be a junior in 2016-17, ready to take over the reigns as the top guard in the backcourt from Marcus Paige. Berry II will play a big role in this upcoming season and should cement himself as the team’s starting point guard for the near future. This is an easy pick.

Shooting Guard: Seventh Woods

Here is where it gets interesting. The options for shooting guard are Nate Britt (or maybe playing Britt at PG and Berry II at SG), Kenny Williams, Brandon Robinson and Seventh Woods.

I would start Woods as a freshman. That’s not normally the modus operandi for Roy Williams, but I think Woods is a special talent who would warrant a start right from game one. Woods would be a force running the fast break for the Heels, using his athleticism and speed to run other teams off the court. His ball handling would also help Berry II run the offense.

If Carolina needed more shooting, the move here would by Williams or Robinson, but I think Woods is a good enough shooter to hold his own in the starting lineup.

Small Forward: Theo Pinson

Another easy pick here. Theo Pinson may start this year alongside Marcus Paige and Justin Jackson (we won’t really know the true starting lineup for the 2015-16 season until Paige returns), and he will certainly start in 2016-17. Pinson is a long, lanky guard who is a popular breakout pick for the Tar Heel by many pundits. He is a fun player to watch and will help the Heels on the offensive glass and on the defensive end.

(Obviously, if Justin Jackson stays, he starts here and Pinson starts at the two.)

Power Forward: Isaiah Hicks

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Isaiah Hicks is another popular pick for a breakout season by many pundits, and for good reason — he is a talented big who has always played well for the Tar Heels in limited minutes and is only trending upwards in terms of playing time and skill. Hicks would truly get a chance to shine as starting power forward if he does decide to stick around for what would be his senior season.

If Hicks leaves, the pick here is Luke Maye. Roy may give a thought to starting Theo Pinson at the four and trying to play really small and really fast, but I don’t think that lineup would work as a starting group, just in short stretches to jump start the offense.

Center: Kennedy Meeks

In this scenario, big Kennedy Meeks sticks around for his senior season and starts at center to anchor the Tar Heel front line. Meeks and Hicks would join up to form a very formidiable front line, as good as any in the country.

If Meeks does leave, the choice here is between Luke Maye and Tony Bradley. I’m not 100% sure which way Roy would lean, but I feel he would start the sophomore over the freshman, especially at the start of the season, just because he is more of a sure thing. Maye is more of a power forward, though, while Bradley is a more traditional center. This would be an interesting battle to watch, but instead Tar Heel fans should be hoping that Meeks sticks around for his senior year.

Let us know who you think should start in the comments section below!