For the second time now in two years, we have been reminded of how North Carolina and Duke are fortunate to be – well, North Carolina and Duke.
The Tar Heels seemed to be in rough shape in the low post for next season after twins David and Travis Wear surprised coach Roy Williams earlier this month with their decision to transfer. Williams himself said there weren’t a lot of options for replacements available to North Carolina at such a late date.
But when you’re North Carolina, you can usually find a solution, and the Tar Heels did. Justin Knox, a forward who’s transferring after playing three seasons at Alabama, committed Monday night to the Tar Heels. He’s 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds and averaged 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds last season, and will add much-needed depth in the low post.
He is expected to graduate this summer and be eligible to play immediately under the NCAA’s graduate student waiver.
The Tar Heels’ successful scramble to acquire Knox is reminiscent of Duke’s fortunate personnel move last summer. Elliot Williams decided to transfer to Memphis, leaving the Blue Devils dangerously thin in the backcourt.
But Duke created some depth when Andre Dawkins graduated from high school early and enrolled as a freshman whose 3-point shooting prowess particularly helped the team early in the season, and the Blue Devils won the NCAA title.
In consecutive summers, Knox and Dawkins have demonstrated how elite programs can withstand personnel losses better than most of their competitors. As Williams said, at this time of year there aren’t many quality players available. But if there are just a few players available, Duke and North Carolina can rocket to the top of their lists in a hurry.
Meanwhile, Clemson for example never was able to find quality perimeter shooting lost last summer when 3-point ace Terrence Oglesby unexpectedly chose to turn pro overseas.
In college basketball, the rich find ways to stay rich even when they’re dealing with losses that weren’t anticipated.