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UNC Basketball: Let’s Get Excited

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Ven-Allen Lubin’s commitment earlier this week brings the Tar Heel roster closer to completion, as only two scholarships are still available and the transfer portal window is in the rearview. Questions still remain regarding the North Carolina frontcourt, and as June is within reach, those inquiries will shortly have to become hope and optimism about whoever fills the roster.

The entirety of the offseason has been swarmed with chatter regarding replacing Armando Bacot. This urgency from Tar Heel faithful and national media goes much further than addressing a singular position, though. When you think of North Carolina basketball in recent years, names like Garrison Brooks, Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson, Tyler Zeller, and John Henson come to mind—all big men who were well-known, respected, and enormously talented.

It has been a while since the Tar Heels were approaching the summer months and simultaneously unsure who would be starting at the four and five in November. With that uncertainty comes a feeling of buoyancy and opportunity for a handful of rostered bigs—and us fans. The questions, especially in this era of college hoops, will never end. So, while a few more names may be bouncing around as possibilities for North Carolina, it’s time to shift our focus into embracing the old-school position battle.

Jalen Washington has a significant opportunity to take a massive leap physically and skillfully headed into 2024-25. The frontcourt has been crowded for his two years in Chapel Hill, but after much patience, the minutes are finally there for the taking. The 6-foot-10 forward from Gary, Indiana, showcases elite touch and promising length under the rim and occasionally on the perimeter. He may be in line for a prominent role this winter, and the potential is exciting.

Zayden High says hello as well. The future sophomore was an unpolished energy guy last year, but don’t count out the former top-100 four-star recruit. If you don’t think someone like High is making a giant leap this summer, the one-and-done nature of college hoops has gotten to you. High is freaky athletic and can stretch the floor much more than some assume.

Now we throw in the additions of Ven-Allen Lubin and freshman James Brown, and the Tar Heels slowly have a room with a heavy amount of upside. There may not be an established All-American center in Chapel Hill next season, but I trust Hubert Davis and staff to take a group of guys with a varied facet of skills and create a well-oiled frontcourt.

How can you not be excited about competition and uncertainty at a position? North Carolina may benefit from this unforeseen battle that is uncommon in today’s college game. For everyone else, I understand the hunger to be assured. That said, I once again believe it’s time to turn those questions and complaints into optimism and enthusiasm because if the Tar Heels come up with a few impact bigs… watch out.

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