basketball Edit

Caleb Love Returning To UNC

North Carolina guard Caleb Love will return to Chapel Hill for his junior season.
North Carolina guard Caleb Love will return to Chapel Hill for his junior season. (Jenna Miller/THI)

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North Carolina sophomore guard Caleb Love has decided he will not test the NBA Draft waters and will return to Chapel Hill for his junior season.

Love looked into going through the process, but decided it was best to stay put at UNC and begin building his personal game and toward next season. Had he gone through the process, he would have had until June 1 to remove his name from the draft and return to school.

Love is listed as a late first-roudn projection in three recnetly updated mock drafts from Fox Sports, USA Today, and NBADraftRoom.com. He is not listed at all in several other mocks that were recently updated, including two that added a second round to their projections.

The 6-foot-4 native of St. Louis, who has a 6-foot-9 wingspan, developed into a clutch player for the Tar Heels this season, converting big shots and free throws often late in close games over the final two months of the season, including a three-pointer over the out-stretched arms of 7-foot-1 Duke center Mark Williams helping UNC beat the Blue Devils in the Final Four.

Love’s three highest scoring games occurred in the NCAA Tournament: 30 versus UCLA; 28 versus Duke; and 23 versus Marquette in the first round. He started out slowly in two of those games, going 1-for-8 in the first of versus UCLA in the Sweet 16, but went off after halftime scoring 27 points and leading the Tar Heels to the regional final. And after struggling in the first half in the Final Four versus Duke, Love scored 22 points after the intermission to lead the Heels to the national title game.

He finished the season averaging 15.9 points per contest while shooting 37.1 percent from the floor, including 36 percent from beyond the arc. He converted 86.3 percent of his free throws. In addition, Love was second on the team averaging 3.6 assists (he had 139 on the season, RJ Davis had 142), he also had 37 steals and blocked nine shots. Love’s defense improved dramatically late in the season, as his entire game grew.

Carolina was 13-0 when Love scored 20 or more points, and was 14-0 when he handed out at least five assists in a game.