UNC 2022-23 Player Preview: RJ Davis

UNC 2022-23 Player Preview: RJ Davis

North Carolina junior point guard R.J. Davis heads into the 2022-23 season looking to build off of a highly successful sophomore year, facilitate and lead UNC’s offense, and be a steadying force on both sides of the ball for the Tar Heels.

Davis, a 6-foot, 175-pound White Plains, NY native, averaged 13.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists while shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three last season. He started every game for the Tar Heels and his assist total (142) and steal total (40) led the team. Davis was named UNC’s Co-Most Improved Player in 2021-22.

“Is RJ Davis Carolina’s sneaky most valuable player in a way?” Inside Carolina‘s Adam Smith asked about the UNC Player Preview Series. “He had a huge game against Duke, he rescued them against Baylor… here was RJ Davis with tough layups and finishes in traffic. I think if RJ Davis wanted to, he could lead a college basketball team in scoring, but I don ‘t think he is going to do that on this team. Just steady growth from him is what you want if you are the Tar Heels.”

“What he has to do is be the facilitator and he has to distribute the ball to UNC’s playmakers — Caleb Love, Armando Bacot, Pete Nance,” Inside Carolina‘s Ross Martin said. “So he needs to be the pure point guard, which they need, be a dog on defense, and then pick his spots to score, because he can score. He can lead the break, get into the lane, and he can knock down threes.”

Added Smith, “I think he is good at picking his spots. He doesn’t force it too much… Carolina was 15-4 last year when RJ scored 15 points or more. You could call him a bit of a victory barometer . I think he is one of the glue guys for this team.”

Davis is very much the unsung hero for the Tar Heels and a key piece on the 2022-23 roster.

“He is critical for this team. He can knock down threes. He gives UNC another three-point shooter and I think he is beloved on this team for everything he does,” Martin added. “The grit he has shown in the tournament and big games. He is exactly the point guard Roy Williams would have liked — he’s a ‘tough little nut.'”

After Davis announced his return, Hubert Davis commented on what his point guard means to the Carolina basketball program.

“RJ is Carolina basketball,” the head coach said in late April. “He’s one of the best players in the country on the court, in the classroom, and in the community. His smile, personality, and character light up our team, our university, and our community. Nothing brings me more joy than having RJ back for another season.”

Hubert Davis also commented on the development of Davis’ offensive game from his freshman season to his sophomore year.

“That is one of the things that RJ worked on a lot this past summer was finishing around the basket,” the head coach said before last year’s ACC Tournament. “He doesn’t have great size, but he can be crafty and his ability to get to the basket — he can use floaters and he can finish with either hand. He’s very crafty at finishing around the basket.

“He’s finishing much better this year. His floater is really good. His ability to finish with either hand, he’s using his body and using angles to get the ball on the board before the shot blocker gets there. He’s playing at an extremely high level . I told him after practice yesterday that he was brilliant. He’s been close to brilliant the entire season. He’s having such an unbelievable sophomore year and it’s such a joy to coach him and be around him. I’m just very, very proud of RJ”

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