North Carolina

With Cam Johnson confirmed to return, UNC is shaping up for next season

North Carolina's Cameron Johnson will return to UNC for his final season of eligibility.
North Carolina's Cameron Johnson will return to UNC for his final season of eligibility. rwillett@newsobserver.com

If there was any question about whether Cameron Johnson would return to North Carolina or declare for the NBA draft this month, all of that was put to rest on Wednesday.

North Carolina announced that Johnson underwent an arthroscopic hip procedure on Monday in Minneapolis, Minn. Johnson is expected to make a full recovery for the 2018-19 season.

That's good news for the Tar Heels, who will lose two of its most successful players in school history, in Joel Berry and Theo Pinson, both of whom were seniors and had exhausted all four years of eligibility. Losing Johnson would have been an unexpected loss.

Instead, UNC is expected to return three starters from last season's roster, and the team has two incoming top-20 recruits, who are both expected to compete for the remaining starting spots.

Here's a look at UNC's projected starting lineup for next season:

F Luke Maye, a 6-8, 240-pound forward, is expected to enter his name in the NBA draft process, but will likely return for his senior season. Maye was a first-team All-ACC selection. Last season, he averaged 16.9 points per game and 10.1 rebounds in 32.2 minutes played. He also shot 43.1 percent from behind the 3-point line. When the Tar Heels needed a bucket, he was often one of the first options to go to.

F Cam Johnson, a 6-8, 210-pound wing forward, was a grad transfer from Pitt last season. He played in 26 games and started in 20 of those games. He was third on the team in scoring, averaging 12.4 points per game. He also averaged 4.7 rebounds per game. He had a career-high 32 points at Clemson.

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F Nassir Little, a 6-7, 205-pound wing forward, comes from Orlando Prep in Orlando, Fla. He was ranked No. 7 in 247sports' Composite Rankings, but has since risen to No. 3 after a successful spring, when he was named MVP of the McDonald's All-American game and the Jordan Brand Classic.

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G Kenny Williams, a 6-4, 185-pound guard, is expected to return. Williams, who will be a senior next season, was the Tar Heels' best defensive player last season. He also shot well from the 3-point line at 40 percent. He averaged 11.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 31 minutes per game.

G Coby White, a 6-5, 170-pound guard, is the second of two McDonald's All-Americans UNC has signed in the Class of 2018. White is a scorer. He played four years at Greenfield School and beat the North Carolina High School Athletic Association record for most points in his career. White amassed 3,511 points. During his senior season, he averaged 30.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game.

Other possible starters

Seventh Woods, a 6-1, 185-pound guard who will be a junior next season, could also challenge for a point guard spot. But the stats show, however, that Woods hasn't lived up to the expectation he had coming out of high school as a highly regarded recruit. Woods played in 20 games last season, averaging 1.1 points and 1 assist in seven minutes per game.

Rechon 'Leaky' Black, a 6-7, 175-pound point guard and small forward, played for Cox Mill High School as a senior last season. He averaged 13.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.2 steals per game, according to MaxPreps.com. He is ranked No. 65 in the country, according to 247sports' Composite Rankings.

A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Luke Maye as a second team All-ACC selection.

Alexander, 919-829-4822; @jonmalexander
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