It hasn’t been as quiet an off-season as UNC coach Roy Williams and fans would have hoped for. The legal troubles of star guard P.J. Hairston has left his career at UNC and his team’s chances at competing for an ACC title in serious jeopardy. Entering next season, the Tar Heels must have answers to three key questions if they are to have a successful season.
1) Will P.J. Play Hairston Next Year?
Hairston was the leading scorer for the Tar Heels down the stretch last season and he greatly improved from game 1 to game 36. Everyone expected Hairston to be UNC’s best player this season, but after Williams suspended the star guard indefinitely earlier this summer, it is unclear whether Hairston will ever play for UNC again. If Hairston doesn’t play for UNC this season it is hard to see UNC doing much in the way of winning the ACC or going deep in the NCAA tournament.
2) Will Marcus Paige improve?
Point guard Marcus Paige had a very shaky start to his college career last season. Though heralded a great shooter coming out of high school, Paige’s shooting numbers were mediocre last season. Later in the season Paige did seem to find a shooting touch and turned in quite a few impressive performances. If Paige can continue to trend upwards he may be a bright spot for the Tar Heels in the upcoming season.
3) How impactful will Isaiah Hicks be?
Isaiah Hicks enters a very crowded frontcourt competition at UNC, and given his upside it will be important for him to immediately produce as a freshman. The potential absence of Hairston makes it even more vital that Hicks carries some of the scoring load. A lot will be asked of the five-star recruit as a freshman, but if he can deliver, Carolina basketball will be in good shape.