It seems slightly early to be making projections about next year when so many of this year’s crop of marquee players haven’t yet announced whether they’re staying or leaving, but that didn’t stop ESPN. They’ve posted their preliminary look at next season. Arizona is projected to be #1, with Duke at #2. Carolina is #6, mostly on the strength of Marcus Paige and a stellar recruiting class.
Leslie McDonald graduated and James Michael McAdoo declared for the NBA draft, and those are the only two departures Roy Williams has to worry about. In other words, the Tar Heels are going to be good. Marcus Paige came of age in his sophomore year. McAdoo’s departure creates room (and loads of deserved touches) for uber-efficient Brice Johnson. That swap may be addition by subtraction. Then there is addition by addition: Williams has the No. 3-ranked class en route to Chapel Hill, which includes Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson and Joel Berry, none of whom ranks lower than third at his respective perimeter position. With Paige running the show, UNC will be within range of national title contention once more.