UNC Basketball: Three Tar Heels make impact newcomer list

Oct 6, 2018; Colorado Springs, CO, USA; USA Men's Junior National Team participant Caleb Love (86) during minicamp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 6, 2018; Colorado Springs, CO, USA; USA Men's Junior National Team participant Caleb Love (86) during minicamp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

According to ESPN’s Newcomer Impact Rankings, the Tar Heels will have a trio of freshman who will play huge roles for Roy Williams’ squad.

Looking ahead to the start of the 2020-2021 college basketball season, ESPN’s Jeff Borzello released his newcomer impact rankings. This list is comprised of freshmen and transfers who are expected to make a mark on their new teams this season.

Borzello ranked his top 80 newcomers, and three UNC Basketball players have made the list. If you include Borzello’s “Next 10” section, the Tar Heels have four players mentioned, as R.J. Davis was included on this part of the list.

Now, before we unveil where Borzello ranks the Tar Heels on the list, it is important to mention how the rankings were conducted. The rankings are solely based on the player’s impact during the 2020-2021 season. Recruiting rankings and potential to play at the next level are not included in determining where the players on this list stand.

To put the list into more perspective, here’s a North Carolina example that Borzello used in his article:

"For example, North Carolina freshman Caleb Love was ranked behind teammates Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler in the ESPN 100 for 2020, but Love is expected to be the Tar Heels’ starting point guard this season, while Sharpe and Kessler are going to start off as reserves behind established starters Armando Bacot and Garrison Brooks."

Let’s now take a look at where each Tar Heel ranks on the list.

The Tar Heels have a very talented incoming recruiting class, but no player in the class is more important to the team’s success this season than Caleb Love.

Love will take over the reigns as the team’s starting point guard, replacing Cole Anthony. Ranked as one of the top point guards in his recruiting class, Love will look to help the Tar Heels bounce back from a disappointing 14-19 season a year ago.

Here’s what Borzello had to say about Caleb Love:

"11. Caleb Love, North Carolina (freshman): Ranked a bit above where he was slotted in the 2020 class, Love should make a significant impact early. He’s an elite point guard and Roy Williams needs him."

The Tar Heels have tremendous front court depth. They return Garrison Brooks, an All-ACC Forward, along with Armando Bacot, who should show improvement after gaining valuable playing time during his freshman season.

Although the Tar Heels have talent at the forward position, Day’Ron Sharpe should definitely find his way onto the floor this season.

He probably won’t start games for Roy Williams’ team, but he’ll definitely be called upon to play quality minutes off the bench. His ability to rebound the ball could help the Tar Heels, who look to be one of the better rebounding teams in the country.

"71. Day’Ron Sharpe, North Carolina (freshman): Perhaps the best rebounder in high school basketball last season, Sharpe is stuck behind Armando Bacot and Garrison Brooks — but will find his way onto the floor."

Forward. 80. player. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. 441. North Carolina. Walker Kessler

Kessler, another five-star recruit, was the No. 80 and final player listed on Borzello’s rankings.

Considering this ranking is based on how Borzello thinks they will impact their team this season, it shouldn’t be surprising to see Sharpe and Kessler ranked so low. However, both of these players could be entrusted into bigger roles as the season goes on.

Throughout high school, the 7-footer has shown a variety of moves that can help him score the basketball. He is also a very good shooter who can ultimately help stretch the opposing team’s defense.

If Williams’ team needs a boost offensively (especially down low), look for him to call upon Kessler. If he shows the ability to put the ball in the basket, this could definitely earn him more playing time.

"80. Walker Kessler, North Carolina (freshman): Like Day’Ron Sharpe, Kessler is a five-star recruit who will fight for minutes behind Bacot and Brooks. But Kessler brings a little more inside-outside ability."

As we mentioned earlier, Davis is on the “Next 10” list, which is essentially the players who just made the cut. Davis is another incoming freshman who could see a huge role early on in his Tar Heel career.

Along with the players mentioned, a familiar face to Tar Heels fans also is included on this ranking. After sitting out a year, former Tar Heel Seventh Woods (now at South Carolina) is ranked as the No. 68 overall player on this list.

The Tar Heels will have quite a new look this season, and their overall success could be determined by the production they receive from some of the newcomers that are mentioned in this rankings list.

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