Carolina’s roster reboot begins: Nickel and McKoy enter the transfer portal

By R.L. Bynum

The shuffling of the Carolina men’s basketball roster is under way a day after the Tar Heels declined the chance to play in the NIT.

With several reserves getting little playing time, some of them figured to move on. That started Monday when Tyler Nickel and Justin McKoy entered the transfer portal. Nickel has three years of eligibility left, and McKoy would play a fifth season as a graduate transfer.

They were two of hundreds of players who put their names into the portal Monday, and leave Coach Hubert Davis with 11 scholarship spots.

Nickel, a 6–7, 220-pound forward, scored 16 points and three 3-pointers in the 100–67 home win Dec. 13 against The Citadel in 19 minutes but didn’t score in double figures in any other games and only played double-digit minutes in three other games. He finished with 52 points and six 3-pointers over 150 minutes in 25 games.

Nickel came to Chapel Hill with a lot of fanfare after becoming Virginia’s all-time high school scoring leader with 2,909 points but he got few chances to show his talents in games.

Defense appeared to be the biggest weakness that kept him off the court. In a few games close games, he would get shuttled in and out in the final minutes, with Seth Trimble coming in for defense and Nickel for offense.

In the last five games as a Tar Heel, he got in for 20 total minutes, was scoreless and went 0 for 3 from the floor.


After playing in 30 games as a junior in his first season at Carolina, McKoy, a 6–8, 220-pound forward, only played in 11 games this season. When he started on senior night against Duke, that was his first action in five games and only the second game in 13 that he had played.

During his two seasons at Virginia, he had three games with more points than his Carolina high of six points in the Feb. 11 home 91–71 win over Clemson. He only played double-digit minutes twice this season, scoring two points both times: 17 minutes in the 88–79 home win over Wake Forest on Jan. 4 and 15 in the 65–58 road loss to Virginia on Jan. 10.

McKoy, who played at Panther Creek High School in Cary, got his most playing time in a pivotal game when he played the entire overtime of UNC’s second-round NCAA tournament victory over Baylor.

UNC roster

Here is a rundown of the Tar Heels’ scholarship players from the just-completed season, with their class should they return next season listed. UNC has two available scholarships.

Possible returnees
4Sr.RJ DavisPG6–0175
0Soph.Seth TrimblePG6–3192
2Sr.Caleb Love26–4200
11Jr.D’Marco Dunn36–5190
14Sr.Puff Johnson36–8200
3Jr.Dontrez Styles46–6210
13Soph.Jalen Washington46–10225
55th yearArmando Bacot56–11235
21Soph.Will Shaver56–10260
Eligibility over
1Leaky Black36–9205
32Pete Nance46–11230
In portal
22Justin McKoy46–8220
24Tyler Nickel36–7220
Incoming freshmen
Simeon Wilcher26–4185
Zayden High46–9225

Photo via @UNC_Basketball


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