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His junior season ended abruptly last year after he shredded his ACL while attempting one of his patented euro-step dribble moves against Virginia Tech. Up to that point, Strickland was having the best season of his career, averaging 7.5 points while shooting 57 percent from the floor.
However, his defensive prowess is the part of his game that stands out the most. He created havoc in the backcourt, nabbing 1.3 steals per game.
Considering the considerable talent UNC has a shooting guard, Strickland will also see time at backup point guard behind Marcus Paige. Although he is not known for being a distributor, Strickland posted 2.1 assists per game last season and significantly lowered the number of turnovers he committed in his two previous seasons.
UNC should be a force on defense this season with the talent that returns at the shooting guard position. Despite the ACL injury, expect Strickland to get after it on defense as he will be called upon to defend the best perimeter players on opposing teams.
Along with Strickland, expect to see a lot of playing time for McDonald and P.J. Hairston at shooting guard. McDonald also returns from an ACL injury, though he sustained his this summer competing in the Carolina Pro-Am.
McDonald will instantly boost the outside shooting ability of the Tar Heels. He is a proven three-point scorer, shooting better than 38 percent from beyond the arc during the 2010-2011 season. McDonald lit it up during the Pro-Am event before he was injured, and by all accounts he looked poised to have an outstanding season.
Now, he hopes to prove that the ACL injury has not taken away from his game. As such, he enters this season with a lot to prove to both fans and skeptics alike.
He is a player who certainly had his ups and downs during his first year at UNC. He started the season on a tear, showcasing his potency as a three-point threat and as a fantastic finisher at the rim. Once the conference season started, however, Hairston's season went down the drain. He finished the season shooting only a little better than 30 percent from the field and 27 percent from three-point range.
Hairston has worked on his jump shot this summer under the tutelage of newly hired assistant coach Hubert Davis, who ranks third on the all-time NBA three-point percentage list. So Hairston has a great teacher.
Time will tell if Hairston has learned from the mistakes he made last season. He'll have to if the Tar Heels want to reach its customary goals.