UNC Basketball 2022-23 Roster Summer Preview Series: RJ Davis

The upcoming 2022-23 UNC basketball season is hopeful and builds on the new beginnings established last year. Junior point guard RJ Davis is a big reason for that optimism.

New beginnings are exciting.
And exhilarating.
And terrifying.
And strange.

New beginnings are full of possibilities.

That’s true for me and it’s certainly true for the 2022-23 North Carolina men’s basketball team.

New beginnings are full of possibilities for Isaac

As for me, this is my first article for Keeping It Heel. I’ve been writing about North Carolina athletics (primarily men’s basketball) for nearly a decade and now have a new home with Keeping It Heel.

Over the past year, I have also started hosting the Locked on tar heels podcast for the Locked On Network, the only daily UNC podcast available. I now have the great honor of bringing these two worlds together. In addition to writing for Keeping It Heel, we will regularly share the Locked On Tar Heels podcast with the Keeping It Heel family.

What can you expect from me?

I like statistics and figures. I also like stories. So I call myself a statistical storyteller.

I’m the weird person who thinks statistics are cool on their own. But I also recognize the greater importance of statistics: they help put into context and tell the sports stories we tell. That’s a big part of why we love sports so much, isn’t it? The stories.

Sports provide an opportunity to see extremely talented people playing a game that we all love. We count the things they do while playing this sport, and we call them statistics. Then we endlessly debate and argue over those statistics. But then we ultimately use those statistics to help us better understand who these people are that we so fervently encourage.

Statistics tell stories.

And that’s precisely why I’m here at Keeping It Heel… to share North Carolina Tar Heels stats and stories with you. To keep you up to date with what’s happening in college athletics. To find statistical nuggets that help explain what happens when you watch the Tar Heels.

Whether it’s an episode of the Locked On Tar Heels podcast or an article you read on Keeping It Heel, my goal is to bring you the best UNC content possible.

So always remember…

It’s a place to have fun.
It’s a place to have fun.
It’s a place to hear stories.
It’s a place to learn statistics.
It is a place to be educated.
It’s a place for fans.
It’s a place to rejoice until you’re (Caroline) blue in the face.
It is a place for the family.
It is a place for the community.
It is a place of interaction.
This is a place for you.
It’s a place for Tar Heels.

New beginnings are full of possibilities for UNC basketball

Last year was a restart for the North Carolina men’s basketball team.
A whole new trainer in Hubert Davis.
A new offensive approach.
A new range style – featuring one traditional tall man instead of two.
An opportunity to start diving into the possibilities of NIL.
An opportunity to make full use of the brand new single transfer rule, bringing in Dawson Garcia (Marquette), Justin McKoy (Virginia) and Brady Manek (Oklahoma).

It took a while for this novelty to come together, but it came together; culminating in a national second-place finish for Coach Davis’ first team.

This end-of-season run creates even more possibilities and even higher expectations for the 2022-23 Tar Heels, returning four-fifths of the so-called Iron Five.

In order to get to know more about Hubert Davis’ second team, we’ve previewed each of the 13 scholarship players, one week at a time, on Locked On Tar Heels.

Summer List Preview Series

Each Wednesday this summer on Locked On Tar Heels, Coach Pac Kilby joins me in previewing a scholarship member of the 2022-23 North Carolina men’s basketball team. We have already talked about first-year students (Seth Trimble, Jalen Washington, Tyler Nickel, Go Shave), the transfer (Pete Nance), sophomores (D’Marco Dunn, Dontrez Styles), and a junior (Johnson puff).

To whet your appetite, here is the program for the coming weeks:

  • August 3 – Caleb Love
  • August 10 – Justin McKoy
  • August 17 – Armando Bacot
  • August 24 – Leaky Black

That leaves just one unnamed fellow player. It would be easy to ignore him (literally), as he is, after all, the shortest player on the entire roster (in fact, he’s also shorter than the entire coaching staff).

Despite his physical stature, you can’t miss him on the court. His game speaks for itself as he drives the point for the Tar Heels. We are talking, of course, about the junior ascent RD Davis.

Davis had a solid, if unremarkable, freshman season in the final year of the Roy Williams era. He and fellow freshman Caleb Love formed the starting backcourt for the first nine games of the season before Davis went to the bench, giving up the starting position to Kerwin Walton in a bid to get more three-point shots on the ground. Davis started another game in place of Love, but it was otherwise Love and Walton the rest of the season.

In the 2021-22 season, all-new head coach Hubert Davis has pledged to keep RJ and Caleb Love as his starting backcourt. The move paid off in major ways, eventually even moving Davis to primary playmaking duties and shutting Love off the ball. The duo were the model of durability in their first two years, both playing in all 68 UNC games during that time.

Davis grew in all the standard stats from his freshman year through his sophomore season, including categories like points (8.4 to 13.5), field goal percentage (35.0 to 42.5 ), three-point percentage (32.3 to 36.7), free throw percentage (82.1 to 83.3), rebounds (2.3 to 4.3), assists (1, 9 to 3.6) and the attendance/revenue ratio (1.0 to 1.9).

What will happen in 2022-23? Davis will have had a full offseason to prepare to be the main point guard for a full season.

He set multiple single-game career highs in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, including points (30 – Baylor), rebounds (12 – Kansas), assists (12 – Marquette) and free throws (nine – Baylor). These statistical jumps point to even better things to come in the upcoming season.

I predict Davis will be an All-ACC level player, leading the Tar Heels to a return to the Final Four.

Be sure to check the Episode of Locked On Tar Heels discussing RJ Davis in even more depth.

Follow us @KeepingItHeel on Twitter and like our fan page on Facebook for continuous coverage of UNC basketball news, views and updates.

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