North Carolina Basketball: Why Reggie Bullock Is Tar Heels' Next Go-to Guy
That's the feeling I get from colleagues and fellow Tar Heel fans when I make such claims. With all the hype UNC's P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald have warranted with their play in the NC Pro-Am, one particular player seems to be forgotten.
Even though he was a five-star out of high school and the No. 2-ranked shooting guard (Scout.com) in 2010, Reggie Bullock has patiently waited for his time to shine. Now is that time.
Bullock arrived at North Carolina in a class that also had the No. 1 overall recruit in Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall. John Henson and Tyler Zeller had already established their offensive presence on the floor.
That left Reggie Bullock with the opportunity to jack up some threes, but his role was limited past that. There was just too many mouths to feed.
With the graduation of Tyler Zeller and the early NBA entries of Marshall, Henson and Barnes, it would appear Bullock will be sitting at the head of the table. For those that disagree, there are a few things to consider.
Usually Roy Williams is a man very fond of feeding the post—almost to a fault at times. However, there are no established post men in 2012-13.
James Michael McAdoo had a fine season defensively and showed he can take over a fast break as well as anyone on the squad. But what did he do in the post? He got blocked over and over—and over again.
That isn't to say he won't be more efficient this season. But his game isn't established, no matter what anyone likes to think. He has his starting spot—that's it.
The same can be said of Joel James, assuming he is in the starting role. While he is a beast on defense and the boards, he hadn't established a post game in high school and has yet to step on the college hardwood.
Now, don't get me wrong—coach still works inside-out, and they will get their hands on the ball. But we may see more passing from them than Henson or Zeller, leaving more opportunity for the 1-3 positions.
Now that Barnes is gone, that also leaves an opening at small forward that likely won't be filled by freshman J.P. Tokoto. That will be the duty of 6'7” junior Reggie Bullock. And much like Barnes, Bullock will be the go-to guy when the team is in need.
With his role as a shooter for the past two years in Chapel Hill, viewers may not realize how athletically gifted or skilled Bullock really is. If you didn't catch the glimpses last season, you won't be able to miss it in 2012.
When he isn't penetrating, Bullock will be burying spot-up threes and pull-up jumpers. He has solidified his mid-range game and led the team in consistency beyond the arc, knocking down 38.2 percent of three-point attempts in 2011-12.
Who will be the go-to guy?
He also became a force in transition last year, whenever Z wasn't available for a 90-foot lob. And there will be a lot of opportunity for transition points, as I feel this team will have one of the greediest defenses to don Carolina Blue.
With 25.4 minutes of action each game, Bullock's defense greatly improved last season. In my mind, he was the Tar Heels' best perimeter defender after Dexter Strickland went down. Now Dex is back; McAdoo is a steal machine; James is a brick wall; and Paige is also a pesky defender that will get his fair share of steals.
With all that speed, talent and athleticism, it's hard to say anyone will be the “go-to” guy on the break. But if it's anyone, it will be Bullock.
When the game is on the line and someone needs to create, you better believe the ball will be in his hands then, too. Hairston and McDonald will get their share of spot-up jumpers with the clock winding down, but I doubt Coach Williams puts the ball in their hands to create shots at the end of a game.
In my mind, there is nobody on this squad more well-rounded than Reggie Bullock. He can knock down shots all over the floor, pull up for a jumper, pass, work the post, finish with contact, fly in transition and cause all kinds of havoc on defense.
That's the type of player you want to give the ball to.
Remember the tourney game against Ohio? Not only did Bullock go 5-of-10 from downtown, he snagged 10 rebounds, dished out five dimes and added one steal and one block to his stat lines. And this was from the shooting guard position.
In Bullock's postgame interview, he also showed why he will be a strong leader for this squad.
In that same game, Barnes was 3-of-16 from the field and just struggling. Marshall wasn't there to establish the offense. Henson wasn't healthy.
Roy needed Bullock and he came through. Just like he needs Bullock now with no Barnes, Henson, Zeller or Marshall to get things going on the offensive end.
There is a lot of talent on this 2012-13 squad. Don't get me wrong. They still have five McDonald's All-Americans (Bullock included) without the Big Four.
But Roy Williams knows what he has in Reggie Bullock—a leader, a work horse on the floor and the next go-to guy at Carolina.
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