UNC Basketball: Former Tar Heels’ target Earl Timberlake set to transfer

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 04: Head coach Roy Williams of the University of North Carolina during a game between Georgia Tech and North Carolina at Dean E. Smith Center on January 4, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 04: Head coach Roy Williams of the University of North Carolina during a game between Georgia Tech and North Carolina at Dean E. Smith Center on January 4, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images). /

Could the UNC basketball program be in-play for this highly-touted freshman transfer?

After one season with the Miami Hurricanes basketball program, Earl Timberlake has decided to enter the transfer portal. According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeff Borzello, the former four-star prospect has decided to find a new school, and expressly stated that he will not enter the NBA Draft. He will look to play another year (at least) of collegiate basketball in hopes of regaining his NBA Draft stock.

Heading into his freshman season, Timberlake was viewed as a potential “one-and-done” player. He was projected as a first round draft pick, and many expected his time at Miami to be short-lived. However, ankle and shoulder injuries derailed his season, as he was limited to just seven appearances. In those seven games played, Timberlake averaged 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per-game.

Here’s what Timberlake had to say in regards to his decision to transfer:

"“I’ve been dealing with a whole lot this season as far as being away from home and ankle and shoulder injuries. I wanted to be there for my teammates, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to. After some thought, I came to the conclusion that putting my name in the transfer portal is the best move for my future. There’s nothing negative that happened. There’s no bad blood with Miami. I just want a fresh start. I love Coach L and the rest of the coaching staff. I just want to start over and get a fresh start somewhere else.I’m not sure where I want to go. I’m open to anything. I’m going in with an open mind. There are no favorites.I will not be entering the NBA draft. I need to get back to being the real Earl Timberlake before I can think of taking the next step in my career.”"

Timberlake will definitely be among the best players available in this year’s transfer portal. But the question remains: are the Tar Heels a fit, and can they find a way to lure Timberlake to Chapel Hill?

Tar Heel fans got to see Timberlake in action when Miami hosted North Carolina on January 5. Timberlake did a little bit of everything, as he had 12 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals over 37 minutes played. Although it was just one game, this small sample size showed just what Timberlake is capable of doing. If he can stay healthy, you could expect to see similar (if not better) numbers wherever Timberlake decides to play next season.

Even though he is considered to be more of a guard, Timberlake has the size and athleticism that could allow him to see some playing time at the wing. It’s well-known that the Tar Heels could use some help on the wing, and Timberlake is a guy who could definitely help fill that void a bit.

Considering that the Tar Heels should have some roster flexibility to work with, you can expect that they will at least reach out to Timberlake to gauge his interest. This time around, the Tar Heels may have a chance to get a commitment from him.

When Timberlake made his decision to go to Miami, his finalists included Providence, Seton Hall, South Carolina and Pittsburgh. North Carolina did, in fact, make an offer to Timberlake, but was not included among the final teams he was considering.

From his statement above, Timberlake mentions that he struggled a bit with being far away from home. Out of his original finalists, Timberlake chose the one that is farthest from his hometown, and it seems like this time around he’ll pick a school closer to home.

Now, North Carolina isn’t exactly right next door to his hometown of Hyattsville, Maryland. If you look it up online, Chapel Hill is about a two-hour flight away (if you’re taking a flight out of Greensboro) and just under a seven-hour drive. That’s still a bit of a ways away from his hometown, but if you’re looking for a positive here, it’s closer than Miami was!

North Carolina’s interest in Timberlake could stem off what happens with the current roster. If the Tar Heels see some key contributors leave for the NBA Draft, you could see Roy Williams and his staff push hard to bring in a player of Timberlake’s caliber.

If I was making a prediction at this point, I’d expect Timberlake to land outside of the ACC. I would expect him to find a program that is not only close to home, but also a spot where he fits the system and could see a lot of playing time.

That could certainly change based on how the Tar Heels’ future roster begins to shape up. If certain players start to test the NBA Draft waters, Roy Williams and his staff could most certainly end up making a strong push for Timberlake’s services.

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