Platek Staying The Course
Andrew Platek is the first one to admit his sophomore season didn’t exactly go as he planned.
He was happy for his team’s success, as the 6-foot-3 shooting guard is selfless in every way, but he still wanted to play more than he did.
Platek spoke before the season started about expecting to get more time than the 7.5 minutes per game he received as a freshman at North Carolina, but instead he averaged only 3.6 minutes per contest and didn’t do as much on the statistical front, either.
He played 10 or more minutes 12 times as a freshman but just once as a sophomore and converted multiple field goals in a game six times as a freshman and just twice as a sophomore.
“Obviously, I think it’s frustrating, everyone thinks they should play and have a chance to help the team,” Platek said. “But winning comes first and that’s what I came here to do. I want to win a national championship… I’m still young, I still have two more years.”
Platek acknowledged that with so many good players on the roster it was hard for UNC Coach Roy Williams to find a spot for him. As tough as it is to deal with, the Guilderland, NY, native completely understood.
“I have no animosity toward my teammates,” Platek said. “I want us to win more than anything and that’s what I came here to do. So, I’m going to figure it out and keep getting better and keep working on my game and see what happens the next two years.”
Fueling much of his optimism about his junior campaign and beyond is that Williams has a history of rewarding program players that have been through the grinder a couple of years and can be counted on. They understand what the Hall of Fame coach demands, and they are happy to oblige as best they can.
Platek cited rising senior Brandon Robinson as an example of a player sticking with it and gaining an elevated role for his junior year. Robinson averaged 8.6 minutes as a sophomore but was at just under 14 minutes a game in the Tar Heels’ 18 regular season ACC contests this past season.
He also believes in himself. Immensely.
“My game is still my game,” Platek said. “I’m still a good player and I came here for a reason, coach recruited me. He plays older guys, guys that have been around and know the system and know the program.
“You look at BRob. I work out with him all the time, and he and Luke (Maye), the people that came before me, were in the same position. They didn’t play much the first two years and kind of made this big jump. Of course, you look at it. It gives you hope and something to strive for a work for.”
Platek is confident that if he gets some extended playing time, he can find a groove in his game, which includes a perimeter shooting touch some teammates raved about all the time this past season. In particular, Cam Johnson, Carolina’s top 3-point shooter on the season and recent NBA lottery pick, never hesitated saying Platek was the team’s best outside shooter.
“Oh yeah,” Johnson said, “he’s the best.”
Johnson raved a couple of times about a legendary afternoon for Platek shooting from beyond the arc. It was in practice, so not many people saw it, but it did happen.
“We do a shooting competition every day before games, we were going back and forth and I made 57 in a row, which is not even like my best I’ve ever done,” Platek said, smiling. “We were just shooting it and I was like, ‘Cam, I haven’t missed in a while,’ so I went back and counted all my makes.”
Now, his shooting during games this season defied that best-shooter tag his teammates gave him. In 115 minutes, Platek converted 14 field goal attempts (46.9 percent), including 5-for-15 from 3-point range.
“When I get more minutes, get more of a run, you’re going to see me come in and knock down shots and just keep it rolling,” Platek said.
There’s more to the game than just shooting, though. Praised by Williams at times for his defense, growing his game will help him get on the court and stay on the court more.
So, the points of emphasis this offseason are?
“The same things I’ve always worked on,” Platek replied. “Ball handling to run the offense, working to create my own shot. And With Kenny, Cam and Nas leaving, the opportunity is there to get an increased role and more minutes, so I’ve got to put the work in to help my team (this) year.”
That being his junior year, one in which Platek expects much more of himself.