Grading UNC Basketball's Transfer Portal Season, Roster Construction for 2024-25 (2024)

Inside Carolina experts Sherrell McMillan and Sean Moran assess UNC's outlook.

Grant Hughes

North Carolina's roster is all but set for the 2024-25 season following a whirlwind transfer portal season that saw Belmont wing Cade Tyson and Vanderbilt forward Ven Allen-Lubin land in Chapel Hill. Inside Carolina analysts Sherrell McMillan and Sean Moran joined host Joey Powell on Inside Carolina'sCoast to Coast showto discuss UNC's offseason. McMillan and Moran handed grades out to Hubert Davis and the Tar Heel staff and broke down the roster's strengths and weaknesses heading into the 2024-25 season. Here are the top quotes from the show:

UNC OFFSEASON, TRANSFER PORTAL GRADES

Moran's Grade: B."I give it a B. With the team they have returning, an A-grade would have been getting the big that they coveted and having the frontcourt more stable. Cade Tyson was a smart target. Adding Ven-Allen Lubin was a good second option. It gives them pieces to play with. You have an embarrassment of riches at the guard and wing position. The frontcourt has a lot of unanswered questions. They're relying on a big jump from Jalen Washington, both offensively and defensively. Each game will come down to: What is the matchup? How can UNC be the aggressor in terms of guard and wing play, and what bigs can match up, and how do you rotate those?"

McMillan's Grade: C."What the staff probably learned from this is that the portal rewards aggression. The portal rewards decisiveness. After Clifford Omoruyi committed to Alabama, UNC got really aggressive, made some hard decisions, and moved quickly. There's a fine line. What if you add Player A, and then a more desirable player enters the portal right after, and they can't get him because they already added Player A? This year is a good learning experience for them. I give it a C because there were guys they clearly wanted a little bit more than Ven Allen-Lubin, but they weren't able to get them for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons they probably should have been aware of and maybe they weren't. Recognition and understanding situations are key parts of the portal. Communication needs to be ironed out moving forward."

UNC LACKED DECISIVENESS EARLY IN THE PORTAL PROCESS

McMillan: "They've only been a staff for three years. They're not self-sabotaging by not going after players. People think Carolina has a list of 17 things that have to be checked before they recruit them. It's not that many. There are some things that they are not going to compromise on, and that's not going to change. Maybe it does hinder them a little bit from looking at every single person, but they are still out there trying to make the team better. People need to get rid of the notion that they're sitting around the Smith Center. They're on top of it. At the beginning of the portal, there were a couple of players that, if they had an inkling of how things might go, would have been more aggressive. They would have been more decisive and locked those players up. That's a lesson for next year."

THE ALABAMA REMATCH WILL REVEAL WHETHER UNC IS A CONTENDER

Moran: "In terms of the Alabama game (in the ACC/SEC Challenge), who is going to guard Grant Nelson? Who is going to guard Mark Sears? Who is going to guard Cliff Omuyari? Last year in the NCAA Tournament, there were fewer questions arounda few of those matchups. At the same time, you have RJ returning, which is huge. You have some very talented freshmen coming in and added shooting in Cade Tyson."

IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW UNC'S CEILING UNTIL SEASON STARTS

McMillan: "They did retain a lot of really good players. They brought in a really good recruiting class. They got arguably the top shooter in the portal. I am in the middle. I've seen the fan base fighting back and forth. Both sides have good points. Everything that I've thought heading into the season was wrong. This year, personally, I'm trying to just wait and see the team. It's really hard to say with certainty ... we just don't have an answer."

UNC'S DIP IN FRONTCOURT TALENT THE LAST FOUR YEARS

McMillan: "Four years ago, UNC had Walker Kessler, Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks and Day'Ron Sharpe on the same roster. They weren't their finished versions, but that's just something funny to look back on. There are still opportunities for North Carolina to add players to the roster. Is that likely? I don't think so, but there are still chances. Nobody knew a year ago that Bob Huggins was going to lose his job. The final snapshot will be taken three days after classes start in August, just before Labor Day."

UNC NEEDED TO ADD A TRUE FOUR THIS OFFSEASON

McMillan: "They wanted to add shooting. It didn't matter which position. They wanted someone who could platoon with Jalen Washington at the center position. They wanted to retain the roster and find a way to replace Harrison Ingram if he left. That was their goal entering the portal. Not targeting a true four is a bigger issue than not landing a traditional true five. You don't need a back-to-the-basket menace anymore offensively. You need to be able to have pieces that you can deploy as needed. I would have been fine with a center-by-committee deal. I would have liked to see a more versatile, more athletic four. That's what's missing."

A PLAYER AND STAT THAT WILL DETERMINE WHETHER UNC REACHES ITS GOALS

Moran: "Ian Jackson is a guy that UNC hasn't had in quite a while, a wing player that can create his own shot at the basket. He's a really talented scorer. Tempo is huge. Last year, they were No. 41 in KenPom's pace of play. If they aren't playing with pace, I don't think they're fully taking advantage of the strengths that they have. What are they doing offensively that can make them the aggressor in situations versus getting into half-court sets on offense and defense?"

McMillan: "If Jalen Washington comes in and is a more capable defender and can give you 12 points and six rebounds, North Carolina is a Final Four team. I don't think that's a stretch at all. If he doesn't, things change dramatically. For the stat, I'll go with defensive two-point percentage. There were a lot of times when guys got into the lane against UNC last year. Once dribblers get past the initial defense, who's going to offer the resistance? Maybe it's someone like Ian Jackson or Drake Powell, who are very athletic. If they're giving up a high percentage in the paint, it's going to be a really long season for UNC."

Grading UNC Basketball's Transfer Portal Season, Roster Construction for 2024-25 (2024)

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