Davis talks about Bacot’s return, better spacing and preference for versatile big men

By R.L. Bynum

The headline from Jon Rothstein’s podcast interview with Carolina coach Hubert Davis released Monday came from when the first-year coach casually mentioned that center Armando Bacot would come back next season.

Bacot, who has played two seasons at UNC, was generally expected to return even though he is going through the NBA draft process but it was a relief for Tar Heels fans to hear that. 

But there were lots of other interesting nuggets from the interview on “College Hoops Today with Jon Rothstein.”

Davis mentioned Bacot when talking about the sort of versatile big men he prefers and why he is bringing in Justin McCoy from Virginia and Brady Manek from Oklahoma.

Hubert Davis said that Armando Bacot will be back with the Tar Heels next season, which is slam-dunk good news for Carolina.

“Those are the type of bigs that I like,” Davis told Rothstein. “We’ve got Armando Bacot coming back next year and he led our team in points and rebounds. He’s gonna have an unbelievable fantastic junior season. But we needed guys that can play alongside him that have more perimeter skills.”

Davis mentioned that Manek is much more than just a shooter.

“He’s an unbelievable passer. He can rebound. He can defend. And those are the type of bigs that I like to play,” Davis said. “I want to score around the basket. I want to attack the offensive glass. I want to get other big guys on the opposing team in foul trouble. But, in order to have that space to have that movement for guys like Caleb Love and RJ Davis to be able to penetrate and make plays, you need guys to be able to stretch the floor, and Brady and Justin can 100% stretch the floor.”

Davis said that the players who have given the Tar Heels the most trouble during his nine years as Coach Roy Williams’ assistant coach were versatile big men who can play out on the perimeter.

“Now we’re going to have guys that are going to be a problem for the opposing team, and I’m so excited to get Brady and Justin on campus,” Davis said.

Davis also mentioned his preference for playing two point guards at the same time, meaning that you’ll likely see Davis and Love playing together quite a bit.

“I love playing two point guards,” Davis said. “I love having two guys that can handle the basketball and that comes from having guys like Marcus Paige and Joel Berry out there on the floor at the same time. I just think having at least two guys that can make plays is just huge. 

“And then I loved having Luke Maye and Bryce Johnson — big guys that can make plays down on the perimeter, shoot 3s — handle the basketball,” Davis said. “They can get a rebound, they can bring the ball up the floor. 

“In all my years in the NBA, it was all about spacing and movement and balancing,” Davis said. “That’s the way that we’re going to play, whether it’s a half-court set on freelance, we’ve got to have great spacing and allow our players to use all their gifts and talents. … I want bigs that can finish around the basket and defend and rebound but I want bigs that can stretch the floor, can shoot, can handle the basketball. And that’s where the game is going and that’s the kind of game I like to coach.”

Davis said that he finally relented and moved into Williams’ old office, but only after an office was set up for the Hall of Fame coach around the basketball offices. He didn’t want Williams to have a basement office.

Hubert turns 51 later this month and few people his age can say that their first job interview came at age 50. Davis said that he had never interviewed for a job until the process began that led to him being named UNC’s head coach.

“Going through that process was fun and it was different and it was interesting and I learned a lot,” Davis said. “One of the things that was not difficult, but was interesting to be a part of, is being a part of the selection process against other people that are your friends. So, I know that Wes Miller was interviewed and King Rice and Jarod Haase and Jerry Stackhouse — all of them are Carolina guys that I have great relationships with. So, going for a job against your friends was something that contradicts what Carolina’s is all about. And so, from that process that was a little bit different but I enjoyed it.”

You can hear the entire podcast episode here. The Davis interview begins at the six-minute mark.

Next season’s UNC roster

So.Caleb LovePG6–4195
So.RJ Davis2/PG6–0160
RS So.Anthony Harris26-4196
Fr.D’Marco Dunn36–4180
So.Kerwin Walton36–5205
So.Puff Johnson36–8190
Sr,Leaky Black36–8195
Fr.Dontrez Styles46–6190
Jr.Justin McKoy46–8225
GradBrady Manek46-8231
Jr.* Armando Bacot56–10240
So.Creighton LeboG6–1160
RS Sr.Ryan McAdooF6–5200
Jr.Duwe FarrisF6–5205
* — Has submitted his name for NBA draft consideration but hasn’t hired an agent. UNC has two scholarships remaining if Bacot returns.

Bacot photo an ACC pool photo

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