UNC Basketball: Sharpshooter transfers to ACC, but not North Carolina

Sharpshooting Florida transfer will face off with the UNC basketball program next season after landing with the Louisville Cardinals.

Prior to the unexpected announcement on April 1 that UNC head coach Roy Williams was stepping down from the position that he’d held in Chapel Hill for the last 18 years, Keeping It Heel spotlighted a player in the NCAA transfer portal that would greatly benefit the Tar Heels in the season ahead.

That player, Noah Locke, shot better than 40.3 percent from three-point range in three seasons with the Florida Gators. He never connected on less than 37.9 percent in any one season — and that was his freshman campaign in 2018-19 — and he’s scored 10.6 points per game in each of the past two seasons. He’s also shot 43.2 and 40.4 percent from beyond the arc, respectively, in those two seasons.

Locke primarily played as the two-guard in Gainesville, emerging as a legitimate three-point threat shortly after joining the program in 2018. But he also brings decent size at 6-feet-3-inches tall and 203 pounds. The Tar Heels could have used both in the fall, had they brought Locke on board via the transfer portal this offseason.

Neither Roy Williams nor Hubert Davis appear to have offered a scholarship to Locke, though, despite the fact that there was reportedly interest on the part of the Tar Heels. And now it’s too late, as the Baltimore native and three-point specialist announced his commitment to the Louisville Cardinals late Saturday night.

https://twitter.com/_NoahLocke/status/1381246111827038213

Maybe there wasn’t any interest on the part of Locke, or maybe it just wasn’t a good enough fit for the Tar Heels go after him more aggressively. They do, after all, have a pretty crowded back court, though none other than Kerwin Walton shot the ball well last season. Still, with open scholarships due to transfers and NCAA rules allowing players an extra year of eligibility due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems as if the Tar Heels could have used a sometimes streaky but generally knock-down shooter roaming the perimeter next season and freeing up lanes in the painted area.

But as it stands, the Tar Heels will instead face off with Locke and the Cardinals at least twice next season. They will do it with Virginia transfer Justin McKoy, though, as the rising junior and former Cavalier forward became the first commitment of the Hubert Davis era on Saturday. Though McKoy isn’t likely to bring the same lethal stroke from beyond the arc that Locke would, he should be able to bring some scoring ability and hard-nosed defense in a hybrid forward role.

It stands to reason that Davis and the Tar Heels will remain active participants in the vast NCAA transfer portal this offseason, including their attempts at reeling UNC freshman big man Walker Kessler back to campus after announcing his departure from the program shortly after the season ended in March.

Check back with Keeping It Heel for all the latest on the Tar Heels in the NCAA transfer portal, and everything UNC basketball.