The 2022-23 NCAA basketball season is still months away, but important questions are already being asked. North Carolina has four of their “Iron Five” returning to school and now they are a National Championship favorite. The question though is who will be able to replace the fifth member who can not return to school, big man Brady Manek? North Carolina’s scholarship count is currently full, so unless that changes the answer will have to come from the current roster.
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? Brady Manek // @UNC_Basketball
? Outstanding Male Newcomer#GoHeels x #RAMMYs2022 pic.twitter.com/UGMhz5eDA9
— UNC Tar Heels (@GoHeels) April 25, 2022
Replacing Brady Manek completely might not even be possible, but someone will have to start along with the four Tar Heels who announced their returns to the program. North Carolina has four freshmen coming into the program but between positions, injuries, and levels of readiness, it is unlikely any of them crack the starting lineup. So, if the answer doesn’t lay with a newcomer the team will have to look at players that were already on the roster. The freshmen will play a role in coming off the bench and providing depth. The task of replacing Manek will fall on two players.
PUFF JOHNSON HOW?!? pic.twitter.com/oW5VcUF0DZ
— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) April 5, 2022
Rising junior Puff Johnson and rising sophomore Dontrez Styles will take on the Brady Manek role together. Johnson is expected to fill in as the starter after his breakout performance in the 2022 NCAA Championship. Styles, who also emerged in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, will be a primary threat off the bench and could see starting minutes throughout the season. If North Carolina wants to complete another redemption tour they will need Johnson and Styles to take leaps in production.