Luke DeCock

Tar Heels counting on freshman Bradley in post – DeCock

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley (5) along with Pembroke’s James Murray-Boyles (12) and Carson Mounce (21) go after a loose ball Nov. at the Smith Center.
North Carolina’s Tony Bradley (5) along with Pembroke’s James Murray-Boyles (12) and Carson Mounce (21) go after a loose ball Nov. at the Smith Center. rwillett@newsobserver.com

It has not been since Kennedy Meeks’ freshman year that North Carolina has had to rely heavily on a freshman post player. The Tar Heels have since then been able to use some combination of Brice Johnson, James Michael McAdoo, Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Joel James, all of whom were sophomores or older.

Meeks and Hicks are seniors now, and while they’ll start in the post for the Tar Heels, they’re going to need some help from Tony Bradley, who has a chance to have a huge impact as a freshman. The 6-foot-10 McDonald’s all-American from Florida will be asked to provide critical backup minutes behind Meeks and Hicks, a role that could take on even greater importance given Hicks’ propensity to pick up fouls as a reserve so far in his career.

Luke Maye stands fourth in line, a relatively known commodity after his cameo appearances as a freshman, but he doesn’t have the size or potential of Bradley, who will be asked to contribute more right off the hop than anyone since Meeks.

Even with Theo Pinson out indefinitely with a broken foot, the Tar Heels have a relatively solid set of perimeter options: Joel Berry, Nate Britt, Justin Jackson, Kenny Williams. If Pinson can work his way back into the mix, it gets even better.

In the post, you know exactly what you’re getting from Meeks and Hicks is an explosive athlete who showed tremendous potential coming off the bench. The real question is what Bradley can give the Tar Heels without any time to adjust to the college game.

Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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