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Heels Add Gardner-Webb Transfer

Blue Steel starting to look like a low major squad.

Gardner-Webb point guard Luke Davis, a Raleigh, NC native, will be transferring to UNC and join the basketball team as a walk-on. He will be eligible in 2012-13 after sitting out for sone season.  In his freshman season at Gardner-Webb, Davis averaged 7.2 ppg and 4.2 while starting 30 games for G-W. The genesis of the idea to transfer came from his father who suggested maybe he should try to walk-on at UNC.

Despite his success on the court, Davis said the school wasn’t a great fit off it and started considering a transfer late in the school year.

Growing up a UNC fan, Davis kept up with the Tar Heels but didn’t consider transferring to Chapel Hill until he received a text from his father before Carolina’s Elite Eight game against Kentucky.

“It just said, ‘Walk-on at UNC?’” Davis remembered. “I called him immediately and he said ‘I don’t know why you shouldn’t try to follow your dream of playing there.’”

By mid-April, Davis had his release from Gardner-Webb and was talking to his former high school coach Kevin Billerman about his aspirations to be a Tar Heel. Billerman, who knew UNC assistant coach Jerod Haase from Ryan Kelly’s recruitment, called Haase and gauged his interest.

When UNC said they were open to the idea, Davis ended his search and started filling out the paperwork. Davis said he never considered any other school but UNC and only sent his transfer release to Chapel Hill.

“Me and my best friend in kindergarten would dress up in UNC basketball uniforms and cut down the Fisher Price nets,” Davis said. “There was no question in my mind that’s where I wanted to go.

What is interesting about this from the UNC perspective is Roy Williams’ apparently willingness to bring in walk-ons and even low end scholarship players. Granted Roy has been bringing in preferred walk-on players since his Kansas days. However with the addition of Desmond Hubert, Stillman White and Jackson Simmons on scholarship plus Davis, UNC is deep with some decent players. Obviously none of these are elite level though I think there are high hopes players like Hubert develop significantly. If I had to speculate I would say there are two things going on here.

First, Roy wants more competitive practices. The whole idea of adding Simmons and Hubert was to give Tyler Zeller and John Henson legitimate size to battle in practice. Roy is a big believer in what practice can tell you. Much to chagrin of the fan base, he often sticks to unpopular lineup choices on the basis of what he see in practice. Beefing up Blue Steel to make practice more competitive should help the team in general and that is what Roy has in mind.

The second item is possibly a little out there but I have to wonder, to what extent, the transfers of the Wears and Some Other Kid might be influencing some of this. Those three departures left Roy short in depth and he really hates being thin on personnel. The logic goes that even if it means picking up 3-4 low end players who will buy into the program even if the skill level is not there is better than having players whose hearts are never really in Chapel Hill. As long as Roy continues to stock the first 8-10 scholarship slots with elite players, you can afford bringing in some projects for the remaining spots.

That is probably over-analyzing it a bit. The simpler logic says if you have a guard who is low major DI player that is perfectly willing to walk-on to your team that is a high caliber player than most of your traditional Blue Steel guys. Someone who has experience playing in college basketball is a bonus. By giving Davis a shot UNC gets a quality bench player, a solid practice body and allows someone to fulfill that dream we’ve all played out on our driveway basketball goal at some time or another.

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9 comments to Heels Add Gardner-Webb Transfer

  • rathskellar68

    As long as he’s not eating a scholarship, more power to him. I just hope we don’t see that much of him on the floor unless there’s a minute to go and we’re up by 20.

    Now if we can just get Cody Zeller to reconsider….

  • 850inExile aka UNC RAJ

    So far each of Roy’s recruiting classes at UNC has featured at least one top 10 ranked recruit. Still crossing my fingers and hoping that the 2012 class keeps that streak going.

    That being said, I’m still glad we got Davis precisely for the reason that rathskellar68 pointed out. You know you’ve got it going on when you convince a scholarship starter at another program to come and be a walk on backup at your program.

    That being said lets keep our fingers crossed and hope that we’ll land a couple more really elite guys soon.

  • TheUNCFan

    Coach Williams probably wants a very smart point guard to run the practice squad which has to run every offense in the ACC. This is a good pickup and ought to make the entire team better.

    Plus don’t forget the team was using Ginyard the fourth-string point guard a few years ago as the backup guard. If this guy could play even a few competitive minutes around TV timeouts, he could save the team in an emergency situation with injuries - or foul trouble in an NCAA tournament game. I can see scenarios where the Heels have a double-digit lead and he plays the last two minutes of the first half or something to spell someone playing on bad wheels or two fouls (or even one foul).

    Plus there’s that preseason motivational factor where the team is in a funk and Coach needs to go down the bench and get someone to run the team while he coaches up someone else. (I don’t anticipate that next year, of course. But even the national championship teams had all-five substitutions at times.)

  • OldSchool

    I got a chance to meet and play with Luke Davis at the Raleigh YMCA several years ago when he was a freshman at Broughton High School (before he transfered to Ravenscroft). I love this kid’s attitude and ability. Trust me, Luke Davis is a legimate ACC PG. He can handle the rock extremely well, and his passing is beautiful to watch. Tough kid. Good kid. Great pick-up for Tarheel Nation.

  • BlueParrot

    Luke Davis has far better freshman stats coming out of Gardner-Webb than Marc Campbell had when he transferred from UNC-G, so maybe Luke’ll actually play some meaningful minutes somewhere down the line. And of course you have to love the attitude. Isn’t it great that we have some players right now — including some NBA-quality players — who really seem to appreciate being Tarheels?

    Do we call Luke Davis “LD II II”?


  • chapelhillfan

    I think the answer to why Roy is doing this is “all of the above”.

  • TarHeelGreg

    These are the type players who will provide continuity to a program in the era of one-and-dones.

  • [...] Heels Add Gardner-Webb Transfer: “Gardner-Webb point guard Luke Davis, a Raleigh, NC native, will be transferring to UNC and join the basketball team as a walk-on.” (Tar Heel Fan) [...]

  • Sound like a nice addition. Does anybody know how big this kid is?