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Which UNC Teams Depended Most Heavily on Freshmen?

2020-21 Tar Heels have six freshmen who figure to play significant minutes
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UNC has six freshmen on this year’s roster, many of whom figure to play significant minutes. Roy Williams has said that the top two point guards on the team are freshmen—Caleb Love and RJ Davis—and will play together on the floor much of the time. That’s not to mention post players Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler or wing Puff Johnson.

UNC under Williams and his mentor Dean Smith are certainly not known for giving freshmen heavy minutes. While there have been plenty of Tar Heel freshmen starters—and stars—the Carolina program is better known for its experienced teams that develop over their Carolina careers.

So, with a half dozen freshmen on the roster, will this be one of UNC’s most rookie-oriented team?

We decided to go back through the history books, to the early 1970s, when freshmen were first made eligible to play by the NCAA, to see which Carolina teams had the most minutes played by freshmen and which teams had the most freshmen scoring.

Here’s what Love, Sharpe and company will need to top:

unc top frosh
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Clearly, a large, productive freshman class is a sign of future success. The top three classes in freshman minutes played and points scored formed the core of Williams’ first two NCAA title teams.

Despite the perception that he doesn’t play freshmen, five of the top 10 teams in minutes and points were Roy Williams teams. Another three were Dean Smith teams.

Matt Doherty’s 2003 freshman class was the only one in Tar Heel history that saw freshmen play more than half the team’s minutes (57.2 percent) and was one of three to score more than half the points (58.4). Williams’ 2007 team scored 50.2 percent and 2006 50.1.

On the flip side are the UNC teams that depended least on freshmen:

unc bottom frosh

Coach Smith is much more heavily represented here, with six of the 10 teams. Williams has three (on the points list, two on minutes), including the Luke Maye, Kenny Williams class. Despite being on the list of least contributions from the freshmen, some high-level Tar Heels can be found on the list. In addition to Maye, there’s Shammond Williams, Final Four MVP Donald Williams and James Worthy (who was injured midway through his freshman year).