With North Carolina facing the losses of Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Kendall Marshall—and likely James Michael McAdoo in 2013—Roy Williams is looking to fill some “big” needs over the next two years. The Tar Heels staff is currently working on bringing South Carolina's Anthony Gill and Damontre Harris and Connecticut's Alex Oriakhi to Chapel Hill as transfers.
At first glance, this may seem a little odd for ol' Roy to be going after so much frontcourt talent. After all, next season UNC will have James Michael McAdoo, Brice Johnson, Joel James, Desmond Hubert and Jackson Simmons at the 4 and 5. However, the only one of those three transfers that will be available for the coming season is Alex Oriakhi.
Because of UConn's postseason ban in 2013, Oriakhi is expected to to be eligible for the 2012-13 season. Gill and Harris will both likely have to take a year off from the game to become eligible.
Gill and Harris were both recruited by Darrin Horn, but the South Carolina coach was fired following a 2-14 record in the SEC. With the hiring of Kansas State's former coach Frank Martin, the two teammates and North Carolina natives are looking for a new school and UNC is at the top of their lists.
In speaking to Inside Carolina on Tuesday, Anthony Gill revealed his lifetime love for Tar Heels basketball:
“I grew up loving North Carolina basketball – the program and the players. Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, he was from the Charlotte area, I saw all of them and watched them progress through the NBA. UNC always has good players coming out to the league each year.”
Will Gill have an issue with taking a year off?
“I’m actually looking forward to the year off, it doesn’t bother me. During that time I could get bigger, faster and stronger.”
Now that's what I like to hear.
Inside Carolina is also keeping up with Alex Oriakhi and updating their “premium” forums with the latest information. Roy Williams briefly spoke to Oriakhi last Thursday and he seemed to like the UNC coach:
"He said they have a big need at my position and talked about how the big men get the ball a lot. It was a brief conversation, but he seems like a great guy and I like him."
Who doesn't, Alex?
Oriakhi confirmed on Tuesday that he is still planning on visiting the Chapel Hill campus. He has been waiting for everyone to declare for the 2012 NBA draft, so he can eye team needs around the NCAA.
I've set up some slides to brief you on these potential Tar Heels. And please keep in mind that nothing is set in stone. Gill and Harris have yet to “officially” contact the university.
Anthony Gill is an athletic power forward whose style of play somewhat resembles that of James Michael McAdoo—steals aside. He will get down the floor in transition, is active on the boards and loves taking it to the rim.
Gill started 26 games in his freshman year and averaged 25.3 minutes per game. He was second on the team in rebounding—behind Damontre Harris.
At 6'8”, he is slightly undersized at the 4, but may have the skill set to also play the 3. Unlike McAdoo, Gill actually put up a few three-balls this season. He was 11-of-28 from the arc, which is good for 39 percent.
Gill is by no means “star” caliber yet, but with some work over the next year he could be exactly what UNC needs to bolster its talent pool.
Damontre Harris is another Gamecock with loads of potential.
Harris just finished up his sophomore campaign at South Carolina, leading the team in rebounds, blocks and field-goal percentage. He was also second on the team in free-throw percentage, converting 80 percent of his free throws—now that's refreshing.
Harris also earned a spot on the SEC All-Defensive Team.
At 6'9”, Harris may not have the height of Henson, but he has an identical 7'4” wingspan to help make up for it. Harris finished the season 33rd in the NCAA for blocks with 2.29 per game. John Henson finished 10th with 2.94 per game.
His overall length and skill set will allow him to play at both the 4 and the 5.
Check out Damontre Harris in the “Gamecock Spotlight”.
Alex Oriakhi lost about eight minutes per game in his junior season and is looking for a team that has room to make use of his talents—not to mention one that can actually play in the postseason next year.
Though he is also undersized at his center position with a height of 6'9”, he also packs a 240-pound punch in the low block. Aside from Z, no Carolina player weighed more than 220 pounds last year.
Oriakhi is very active on the boards, averaging 8.7 rebounds over 29 minutes per game in his sophomore campaign—which was also UConn's championship season. I do have an issue with him only shooting 57 percent from the free-throw line this season, but he obviously has a good touch.
Aside from his aggressive nature in the paint, Oriakhi could bring some welcomed personality to the squad. Whether he's battle rapping a teammate or doing a pregame dance, entertainment is sure to follow Alex Oriakhi.