UNC basketball rumors: 4 transfer portal targets Hubert Davis needs to land

With some big losses coming in Chapel Hill, Hubert Davis should be in the portal again to replenish the UNC basketball roster for 2024-25.
Jan 13, 2024; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA;  North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Hubert Davis
Jan 13, 2024; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Hubert Davis / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023-24 season was quite a bounce-back effort for the North Carolina Tar Heels under Hubert Davis. After the precipitous fall from preseason No. 1 to missing the NCAA Tournament the year prior, the successor to Roy Williams hit the transfer portal hard and got UNC basketball on the right track. Sure, the season ended in the Sweet 16 as a No. 1 seed, but it was encouraging long-term.

At the same time, though, Davis has to get to work this offseason for the UNC Tar Heels to ensure that remains the case. Armando Bacot and Cormac Ryan are gone from last year's team, exhausting their eligibility. Harrison Ingram is likely gone as his NBA Draft stock rises. RJ Davis could be gone for the NBA as well, though Seth Trimble hitting the transfer portal could be a sign of Davis' intention to return.

North Carolina does have a great class of freshmen incoming with 5-stars Ian Jackson and Drake Powell along with big man James Brown, a 4-star recruit with high regard in the program. But UNC needs to be in the transfer portal again to field a true title contender. Specifically, the Tar Heels and Hubert Davis should be looking at these four players as possible or even likely options.

4. Mady Sissoko could help ease Tar Heels loss of Armando Bacot

No one is going to outright replace the impact of Armando Bacot for the Tar Heels by themselves. As the roster currently stands, we would likely see UNC roll with Jalen Washington, who impressed in a limited role this past season, take up the biggest minutes down low for Hubert Davis' rotations with Powell potentially coming off the bench as a freshman.

But big men should be a focus for the Tar Heels this offseason to give the team a more comfortable group at center, which is something former Michigan State big Mady Sissoko could offer. The 6-foot-9, 250-pounder spent four seasons with the Spartans, blossoming into a starter over the past two years. However, he's remained just a rotational piece, averaging just 15.2 minutes per game in 2023-24.

My belief remains that Washington should be the starter at center for UNC in the 2024-25 season, but Sissoko could be the perfect rotational player with Washington. He's a defensive standout and rim-protector and could thrive in the pick-and-roll with Elliot Cadeau as well. Davis needs to get the big man from Mali on the phone immediately.

Robbie Avila
Indiana State v Seton Hall / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

3. Robbie Avila could offer UNC a new element in the frontcourt

Is this a realistic possible addition for North Carolina? Sure, the Tar Heels are one of the truest blue bloods in college basketball and any potential transfer should, in theory, be on their radar. At the same time, Robbie Avila doesn't have many ties to the program right now outside of getting an offer from Appalachian State out of high school, which is a few hours west of Chapel Hill in Boone.

Those loose ties to the state -- not even the program -- aside, Avila would be a fascinating addition for the Tar Heels. The 6-foot-10 power forward from Illinois spent two years with the Indiana State Sycamores before hitting the portal and is among the most interesting names transferring thus far. The man dubbed "Cream Abdul-Jabbar" broke out this past season, averaging 17.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

Avila is an elite playmaker as a scorer and facilitator, wowing with his passing vision and his ability to stretch the floor after shooting 39.4% from 3-point range this past year. His defense is a concern but adding him to the mix as a high-post option offensively and pairing him with Washington and possibly Sissoko in the frontcourt could make for a dynamic, versatile group and an improved offense from last season.

2. Danny Wolf is another big man the Tar Heels could use

Sticking with the bigs still -- you'll notice a theme here given that it seems like RJ Davis could be coming back for a fifth season -- UNC should take a peek at the Ivy League and, in doing so, will find Yale forward/center Danny Wolf as someone who fits the bill of what Davis and Tar Heels should be looking for.

The 7-footer was a standout for a Bulldogs team that won the league and made the NCAA Tournament this past season. He averaged 14.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals in 30.8 minutes per game while also showing improved range, shooting 34.5% from 3-point range on just under three attempts per game.

Wolf is a good athlete for his size and is surely looking for a higher-profile program like North Carolina to show off his talents. Moreover, some reports have indicated that he is set to meet with Davis and the Tar Heels staff already, and he has the makings of a true replacement for Bacot down low.

1. UNC basketball has to get Cade Tyson back in his home state

While we've focused quite heavily on the big men to this point, we can't discount the loss of Cormac Ryan. The sharp-shooting wing was a force, albeit an inconsistent one, for the Tar Heels in the 2023-24 season. He was, more importantly, a player who pressured the defense with his ability to stretch the floor. That's something UNC is in short supply of and needs to address.

That's why Cade Tyson should be the top UNC basketball transfer target this offseason in the portal. Tyson started his college career with the Belmont Bruins for two seasons, but the Monroe, NC native is now in the portal and makes all the sense in the world for the Heels. The 6-foot-7 wing has some versatility on both ends of the floor, but he's most importantly a dead-eye shooter, converting 46.5% of his 3-point attempts last season on 5.5 tries per game, up from a still-showy 41.7% as a freshman.

Tyson has already set an official visit to Chapel Hill as this has been one of the easiest connections to make. But Hubert Davis needs to ensure that he locks down Tyson as his size on the wing along with his long-range shooting are exactly what North Carolina needs looking at the 2024-25 roster.