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To me, it doesn't make much sense to put players coming off the bench as an under-the-radar surprise. However, my listed starters are not a lock, and a few of the bench players will get a lot of time in the game. Some could even steal a starting role.
If it plays out the way I see it, Dexter Strickland could be the best sixth man in the country. If he develops a better outside game, he could take the starting spot from McDonald. I feel he is a better all-around player than McDonald, but perimeter shooting could hold him back this season.
Nobody on the squad has proven he has a post game yet, so outside shooting will be critical. That's the only reason I don't have Strickland starting. I love his game, but if he can't bang home some 18-23 footers, his game will be pretty much the same—which I can hardly classify a surprise.
I don't see P.J. Hairston stealing a starting spot from Reggie Bullock at the 3, but he could jack the 2 from McDonald or Strickland. No matter what kind of playing time he gets, we will see a much better Hairston in 2012-13.
Touted as one of the best shooters to come out of the 2011 class, he hardly lived up to the billing. For the season, Hairston shot 27.3 percent from three-point range and an ugly 30.8 percent from the floor. We did see him step up toward the end of the season, and I fully expect him to settle in this year.
Hairston not only has a smooth jumper, but he can also get to the rim and throw down some monster dunks. He will be an exciting player to watch, if he develops into the player Roy Williams expected when he recruited Hairston.
Brice Johnson probably won't be taking anyone's starting job, but he could get enough time to make an impact and put his name on the map.
He will be coming in for both McAdoo and James and will probably get a good 15-20 minutes per game. That was enough for McAdoo to impress the country, so it could be enough for Johnson, too. He has the potential to become a very John Henson-like player.
Then there is J.P. Tokoto. I am really excited about this recruit. Unfortunately for Tokoto, UNC is pretty stacked at the wing.
As of now, he doesn't have much of a perimeter game, so I feel he will see more time subbing in for Bullock and Hairston than Strickland and McDonald. Either way he goes, Tokoto still has two guys in front of him, and it will be hard to get him in the game.
However, there will be the usual blow-outs before ACC play begins. This will be his time to shine. If he dominates the time he plays, he could steal someone's spot—especially if Hairston continues to shoot like he did last season.
Tokoto's ups are reminiscent of Vince Carter, and he plays very well in transition. If we don't see a lot from him in 2012-13, look out for him in 2013-14. This young man will be a force. Right now, he has to earn his way up the ranks.
This will be a very potent squad of Tar Heels, and I'm glad I don't have Roy Williams' job choosing the starters. I am glad I get to watch them play, though. We are in for an exciting season, folks.