Lucas: Welcome to the family

Lucas: Welcome to the family

By Adam Lucas

Less than a month into his Carolina career, we’ve already learned that Pete Nance has great timing.

After a busy spring that saw him leave Northwestern early to go through the NBA draft process and then open his recruiting as a graduate transfer, Nance announced his plans to join the Tar Heels on June 18. Four days later, he arrived in Chapel Hill at the exact time several Carolina men of letters were on the field competing against the current team in one of Carolina’s annual basketball camp games. .

With hundreds of young campers in the stands, it was about as vibrant as a Carolina basketball environment you can find in the summer. And Nance, predictably, received a loud ovation when he was introduced to the crowd.

“It was amazing,” Nance said. “It was great to see everyone so excited to have me here. Every time you go to a new place you are naturally nervous about what it will be like. To receive this warm welcome from the guys and young fans was an amazing thing for me.”

Although he didn’t play in the match, as soon as he was introduced Nance immediately went to take a place on the current team’s bench, where he watched the rest of the match with his new teammates. It felt like a natural fit, which is exactly what Hubert Davis and the coaching staff had in mind when they sued Nance.

The first thing that strikes you about Nance is quite simple: he is tall. In fact, during Thursday’s practice, to the extreme disappointment of Armand Bacotwho insisted even when they were back to back that it was a draw, it became apparent that Nance is bigger than Bacot.

And while Bacot may have been dismayed on Thursday, he will be much happier as the season progresses to have a real colleague in the paint. Nance has already shown an ability to play close to the edge both in attack and defense. He’s certainly capable of stretching the ground, an important part of any addition to Davis’ roster. But that’s not the main focus of his game.

For some context, consider that about 30 percent of Nance’s field goal attempts were three-pointers in his final season at Northwestern. When Brady Manek arrived from Oklahoma, more than half of his shots in his final season as a Sooner were three-pointers.

“I’m someone who does a bit of everything,” says Nance. “I can shoot well, pass well, dribble well and I can hold multiple positions. I pride myself on being versatile and want to play the role that my teammates and coaching staff expect of me.”

Learning this role was part of Nance’s recruiting process in Carolina. The Ohio native’s summer was basically two-step. First, he was completely committed to exploring the NBA draft process and getting as much feedback as possible. During this assessment, he was not simultaneously researching potential college destinations in his spare time.

Once he made the decision to go back to college, that’s when he started exploring his options in depth. And that’s also when he was able to have enlightening conversations with Davis.

“Coach Davis does a really good job of getting to know you as a person first,” Nance said. “He builds that relationship on the floor. It’s a huge thing, whether you’re a freshman or a new guy like me. On the court, you’ll end up messing up or forgetting something. But when you’ve had so much many conversations with your coach, he can have you, but you know it’s coming from a great place because you already have that relationship with him. It’s so important.”

Nance never played in the NCAA Tournament during his career in the Northwest, and he’s well aware he’s joining a Carolina team that was one win away from a national championship last season. And in less than a month on campus, he’s already tasted that Tar Heel fervor that has come with the playoffs.

“If I had to use one word to describe what I learned about Carolina Basketball, it would be ‘passion,'” Nance said. “The fans have a lot of passion for the team and are super excited for the season. And the same is true for the players and the coaches. The coaches played here and they chose to come back and coach here. players love Carolina and are passionate about hanging another banner and making history.”

Ultimately, however, Nance could assess the product on the pitch from afar. There was another, more intangible part of the program that he wanted to assess during his recruitment process.

“Carolina obviously has an incredible history,” he says. “It’s the bluest blue blood there is. What you hear about is the family aspect and the fact that you’re a Tar Heel forever. That’s what I wanted to see on my visit, if that was really true. And seeing guys like Tyler Hansbrough and Luke Maye and Cam Johnson and Justin Jackson coming back to train and play with the guys and lift, I knew right away that’s not not something you see everywhere. I am thrilled to be part of this family now.

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