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UNC Basketball: 2020-21 Roster Construction & Scholarship Breakdown

It's tough to keep track of college basketball rosters and scholarships from one year to the next. Thankfully, we've got you covered for the 2020-21 Tar Heels.

One of the few constants in college sports is change. Every year players graduate and new players come in. This is all the more true in college basketball, where players can leave after any year of school to pursue professional opportunities. Needless to say, it’s difficult for fans of college basketball teams to keep track of who’s on the roster and who has a scholarship. Each year you have to learn about a whole new crop of incoming members of the team.

That’s where I come in. My job is to study all the information and then pass it on to you.

Perhaps you’re unaware of the make-up or construction of a college basketball roster. Let’s start there.

Each NCAA Division 1 college basketball team can have as many as 13 scholarships (assuming they haven’t forfeited any due to NCAA violations). They can have more than 13 players on their roster, but only 13 of those can be on scholarship.

Every year, it’s a puzzle for coaches to figure out who’s leaving and who’s staying, which helps inform who they should be recruiting and what positions they need to strengthen for future teams. It’s all a whirlwind.

You came here because you want to learn about the 2020-21 UNC basketball roster, right? So who is on that roster? What is the scholarship math for the 2020-21 Tar Heels? How does everything break down by class? Who accounts for those 13 scholarships?

Great questions. All of them.

However, before we talk about the 2020-21 team, we must revisit the 2019-20 team and who accounted for the 13 scholarships so that we can ascertain what scholarships will be available for the upcoming season.

2019-20 Roster & Scholarships

1. #0 – Anthony Harris (Scholarship)
2. #1 – Leaky Black (Scholarship)
3. #2 – Cole Anthony (Scholarship)
4. #3 – Andrew Platek (Scholarship
5. #4 – Brandon Robinson (Scholarship)
6. #5 – Armando Bacot (Scholarship)
7. #11 – Shea Rush
8. #13 – Jeremiah Francis (Scholarship)
9. #15 – Garrison Brooks (Scholarship)
10. #21 – Sterling Manley (Scholarship)
11. #22 – Walker Miller
12. #25 – Caleb Ellis
13. #30 – KJ Smith (Scholarship)
14. #32 – Justin Pierce (Scholarship)
15. #34 – Robbie O’Han
16. #35 – Ryan McAdoo
17. #42 – Brandon Huffman (Scholarship)
18. #55 – Christian Keeling (Scholarship)

From that team, the following players are gone

Gone From 2019-20 Team

1. Cole Anthony (Scholarship) - NBA early entry
2. Caleb Ellis - graduate
3. Jeremiah Francis (Scholarship) - transfer
4. Brandon Huffman (Scholarship) - transfer
5. Christian Keeling (Scholarship) - graduate
6. Robbie O’Han - graduate
7. Justin Pierce (Scholarship) - graduate
8. Brandon Robinson (Scholarship) - graduate
9. Shea Rush - graduate

Those departures free up six (6) available scholarships for 2020-21.

But here’s one other thing you need to be aware of: Heading into the 2019-20 season, there was one extra scholarship available (not taken by student-athletes who were offered scholarships). As noted above, KJ Smith held a scholarship in 2019-20. The coaches decided to award him that aforementioned extra scholarship. What you should know is that scholarships are just one-year commitments, so there is no guarantee that Smith will receive that scholarship again this year. That said, there are actually seven (7) scholarships available for 2020-21.

Let’s turn our attention then to the construction of the 2020-21 roster and how the 13 scholarships will be divided up.

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First of all, there are several players on the roster who are not on scholarship.

2020-21 Non-scholarship Players (4)

  • Walker Miller (Senior)
  • KJ Smith (Senior)
  • Ryan McAdoo (Junior)
  • Creighton Lebo (Freshman)

Next, there are several returning scholarship players.

2020-21 Returning Scholarship Players (6)

  • Garrison Brooks (Senior)
  • Andrew Platek (Senior)
  • Leaky Black (Junior)
  • Sterling Manley (Redshirt Junior)
  • Armando Bacot (Sophomore)
  • Anthony Harris (Redshirt Freshman)

The final piece of roster construction will be the incoming scholarship freshmen.

2020-21 Scholarship Freshmen (6)

  • RJ Davis
  • Puff Johnson
  • Walker Kessler
  • Caleb Love
  • Day’Ron Sharpe
  • Kerwin Walton

“Now hang on just one minute,” you say to yourself. “I learned how to count really well in elementary school and I only counted 12 scholarships just now, but you said the team could have 13.” You, dear reader, are correct. The current scholarship total for next year sits at 12. This means that there’s one available scholarship for the 2020-21 season.

At this point, the Tar Heels haven’t been seriously linked to any other recruits or transfers. There were some rumors linking Carolina to Georgetown transfer Mac McClung, but McClung announced a list of seven schools today and Carolina isn’t it.

So there’s still a possibility that the Tar Heels could pursue another freshman or transfer, but the more likely scenario at this point is to hold onto that scholarship to be used on a class of 2021 player. In that eventuality, the 13th scholarship would again be awarded to one of the walk-ons on the team. Since KJ Smith received the extra scholarship last year, the best guess is that it would go to Walker Miller or Ryan McAdoo.

With all this in mind, here is the 2020-21 UNC basketball roster as of May 20, 2020. Keep in mind, the likelihood is that even if Carolina doesn’t add another scholarship player, they will likely add another walk-on or two.

2020-21 Roster & Scholarships

  1. #0 – Anthony Harris (Scholarship)
  2. #1 – Leaky Black (Scholarship)
  3. #3 – Andrew Platek (Scholarship)
  4. #5 – Armando Bacot (Scholarship)
  5. #15 – Garrison Brooks (Scholarship)
  6. #21 – Sterling Manley (Scholarship)
  7. #22 – Walker Miller
  8. #30 – KJ Smith
  9. #35 – Ryan McAdoo
  10. RJ Davis (Scholarship)
  11. Puff Johnson (Scholarship)
  12. Walker Kessler (Scholarship)
  13. Creighton Lebo
  14. Caleb Love (Scholarship)
  15. Day’Ron Sharpe (Scholarship)
  16. Kerwin Walton (Scholarship)
    * 1 scholarship available

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