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Despite Uncertainty, 2020 Class In Tune With Williams

Nobody knows when UNC's will open, but RJ Davis (pictured) and the class of 2020 regularly speak with Roy Williams.
Nobody knows when UNC's will open, but RJ Davis (pictured) and the class of 2020 regularly speak with Roy Williams. (Stepinac)

The North Carolina basketball team may be in the offseason right now, but the COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting the program in more ways than one.

One of the biggest aspects of the program impacted is the incoming freshmen class. The group, which includes Caleb Love, R.J. Davis, Puff Johnson, Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler, can’t enroll in June like UNC freshmen class typically do because the university has already cancelled summer school.

It means they will have to enroll in online classes and won’t arrive to Chapel Hill until the school re-opens.

Despite not being able to see them in person, UNC Coach Roy Williams has been in constant contact with his incoming group during this isolation period.

"I've had conversations every week with all of our incoming freshmen...” Williams said during a virtual press conference on April 7. “We're talking to them right now and trying to see how their own family situation is more than anything.”

It’s a shame, too, considering this is one of UNC’s best classes in recent memory. It’s ranked No. 3 nationally, just behind Kentucky and Duke, and is one of the highest-rated groups Williams has brought in since returning to Carolina 17 years ago.

Walker Kessler.
Walker Kessler.

Certain members of the class have received a ton of individual accolades. Love, Davis, Sharpe and Kessler were all voted McDonald’s All Americans while Love, Davis and Sharpe were selected to the Jordan Brand Classic.

The accolades don’t stop there, however. Love, Davis and Kessler were each voted Gatorade Players of the Year and received Mr. Basketball awards for their respective states.

More importantly for the Tar Heels, the class fills some much-needed voids on the roster. Love will likely slide in as the starting point guard, Johnson has the ability to light it up from beyond the arc, Davis is an elite level scorer and will have a chance to start while Sharpe and Kessler will help elevate the Tar Heels’ frontcourt to one of the most talented in the country.

“The incoming class is loaded and it may not be finished yet,” THI Basketball Recruiting Director Clint Jackson said. “You have a dynamic lead guard in Caleb Love, a shooting and scoring combo guard in R.J. Davis and a sweet-shooting wing forward in Puff Johnson who can strip the nets as well.

“Add in Walker Kessler, a five-star big man who can play facing the basket and Day’ron Sharpe, a tough, strong, sure-mitted center who can clean the glass, and Roy Williams checked off pretty much every position.”

Day'Ron Sharpe.
Day'Ron Sharpe. (USA Basketball)

The flux of talent coming to the Smith Center in 2020 is especially exciting for UNC when you consider four of its top scorers from last season will be back, including second-team All-ACC forward Garrison Brooks, who was also named the league’s Most Improved Player. In addition, Armando Bacot, who started 29 games as a freshman, and a player in Leaky Black that has started 28 games and played in 52 during his career.

Getting his newest crop of players on campus as soon as possible is a priority for Williams and he remains hopeful he’ll have a better idea in the next few weeks of exactly when his highly touted group will finally be able to step foot in Chapel Hill.

“As we get closer, and I've told every one of them hopefully by the end of April we'll have a much better idea possibly of what might happen,” Williams said. “But I'm not talking to anybody about anything yet because we don't know anything."

A lot of uncertainty surrounds the newest batch of Tar Heels and when those questions will be answered is anybody’s guess at this point, even Williams’. One thing is for sure though: These five players are extremely talented and will make an instant impact for UNC next season.

The Class Of 2020