UNC Basketball: Pete Nance Aims to Fill the Void

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 29: Pete Nance #22 of the Northwestern Wildcats reacts after making a three point basket in the second half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Welsh-Ryan Arena on January 29, 2022 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 29: Pete Nance #22 of the Northwestern Wildcats reacts after making a three point basket in the second half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Welsh-Ryan Arena on January 29, 2022 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

The UNC basketball team’s key addition via the transfer portal is expected to have a starting role at the power forward position.

When Armando Bacot, Leaky Black, RJ Davis, and Caleb Love all announced that they would be returning for this season after last year’s run to the National Title Game, it was clear that UNC would be one of the preseason favorites to cut down the nets in Houston this April.

However, even with four out of five starters returning from a Final Four team, there was one major question with Carolina’s roster.  How would they replace Brady Manek?

Manek was a perfect match for Hubert Davis’ new offense, with a quick and accurate three-point stroke that spaced the floor for Bacot and outstanding off-ball movement that created easy opportunities on drives from Carolina’s explosive guards.  As not only an ideal basketball fit but also a locker room personality that both his teammates and fans embraced, Manek’s departure left a huge hole in the Carolina lineup that would need to be filled.

Enter Pete Nance.  The former Northwestern Wildcat entered the transfer portal after he decided to pull his name out of the NBA Draft, and committed to North Carolina shortly after his visit.  Much like Manek, Nance brings four years of experience from a high-major conference to Chapel Hill and a three-point shot that should fill Coach Davis’ need at the “stretch four”.

What should fans expect from Nance during his only season in a Tar Heel uniform?  Find out in our penultimate UNC Basketball Player Preview.

Career at Northwestern

Nance comes from a family loaded with basketball talent.  His father, Larry, was a star in the ACC at Clemson prior to his NBA career, where he spent 13 seasons with the Cavaliers and Suns.  His older brother, Larry Jr., is currently in the NBA with the New Orleans Pelicans.  Being raised in a basketball family, Pete is known for having a well-rounded game and a high basketball IQ, which he showed during his four years at Northwestern.

After coming off the bench for most of his freshman season, Nance started 20 out of 30 games for the Wildcats in 2020, leading the team in blocks and finishing second in rebounding.  He started all 24 games that he played during his junior season, averaging over eleven points and nearly seven boards a game.

Nance’s best season as a Wildcat came last year, as he led the team in points, rebounds, blocks, and three-point percentage.  This earned him a spot on the All-Big Ten Honorable Mention Team last season.

When looking at his statistics, one thing that stands out is the improvement that Nance made each season in Evanston.  His points per game assists per game, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage all increased every season at Northwestern.

The consistent improvement and all-around game that Nance has displayed made him one of the best players in the Big Ten and should result in a professional career after his season in Chapel Hill.

What to Expect in 2022-2023

Carolina fans need to make sure that they are not expecting Pete Nance to be Brady Manek.  That doesn’t mean that he can’t be as good of a player as Manek was, but that their skill sets are different.

For multiple reasons, I don’t expect Nance to score as many points per game (15.1 ppg) or make as many threes (98) as Manek did last season.  First off, while Manek spent much of last season playing nearly 40 minutes, Carolina is expected to utilize their bench much more this season.  This will likely result in less minutes (and potentially lower per-game statistics) for not only Nance but also some of the other Tar Heel starters.

Secondly, while Nance is a more than capable three-point shooter (35.6% for his career at Northwestern), his game is not as reliant on the outside shot as Manek’s.  At 6-11, Nance is two inches taller than Manek and brings more of a presence as a scorer in the paint.

There are a couple of other areas where Nance will bring a different element to UNC compared to Manek.  Nance is a defensive rim-protector and is comfortable guarding opposing centers, as well as being a lob threat on the offensive end.  The former in particular could be key for Carolina, as they lacked a true defensive anchor when Armando Bacot was on the bench last season.

Hubert Davis had high praise for Nance at the annual ACC Media Day:

"“I’m surprised that he’s not in the NBA. With where the NBA and the game of basketball has gone with mobile bigs, I’m surprised he’s not in the NBA. He’s a legit 6-10, 6-11. He can guard (positions) one through five. He’s an excellent shot blocker, alterer of shots. He can handle the basketball. He’s a gifted passer, unbelievable communicator and screener, and shot 45 percent from (3-point range) last year. I just, I’m surprised. But I’m also happy that he’s not in the NBA, and that he has a North Carolina uniform on. Very happy with that.”—-Hubert Davis"

Bold Prediction

My bold prediction for Pete Nance is that he will become a fan-favorite during his only year in Chapel Hill.  From everything we’ve heard about him, Nance is a team player who has embraced his role on the team and is willing to do anything he can to help Carolina take the last step and finish the deal this season.

He also brings an exciting skillset with the ability to not only make shots from the perimeter but also make athletic plays (dunks/blocks) around the rim on both ends of the floor.

Along with what he brings to the court, Nance is a great interviewee with a genuine and likable personality.

With Nance’s experience, team-first mindset, and diverse skillset, I believe that Hubert Davis has struck gold in the transfer portal for the second consecutive year.

Next. Armando Bacot has some unfinished business in Chapel Hill. dark

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