It is no secret, UNC-Greensboro is in the midst of an unbelievable run, a run that has seen them go 80-22 over the past 3 years (44-10 in SoCon play) and reach two NIT tournaments and one NCAA tournament. In fact, last season UNC-Greensboro finished 28-6 and was the last team out of the NCAA tournament. Crushing news at the time, but locker room clippings for now.
UNC-Greensboro has quickly become a dominating force in the state of North Carolina. Over their previous 17 games played, against schools from North Carolina UNC-Greensboro is 15-2, including a road win over NC State.
Here is a look for the season.
When we spoke earlier about having an identity, UNC-Greensboro has a pair of rugged, yet incredibly unique defensive players in Miller and Dickey. Dickey is 6’9” 210-pound post player who was one of only 10 players in NCAA Division 1 last year who had a block percentage greater than 9, Defensive Rating less than 90 and Defensive Box +/- greater than 7. Others on that list were Brandon Clarke, Mamadi Diakite, Neemias Queta, and Tariq Owens. Dickey moves his feet like a guard and he has expert timing, both in the passing lanes and blocking shots. New to his game this year is the ability to push the break and initiate offense in grab and go situations. Dickey has a 7’5” wingspan and a measured 36” max vertical leap.
Miller is coming off a very underrated statistical year. He finished Top 10 in points per game (15.2) as well as first in steals (2.9). In fact, Miller’s 2.9 steals per game had him tied for second nationally in that category, thus helping him win the Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year award. Miller joined Zion Williamson, Brandon Clarke, Ethan Happ, Jarrett Culver, and Rui Hachimura as one of only nine players nationally to average over 15 points per game with a defensive rating under 92 (and Miller was the only one to do so while averaging over 2.6 steals per game). Miller is the preseason player of the year in the Southern Conference, statistically, this makes sense, but Miller’s statistical makeup is substantial as well. He stands 6’1” with a 6’8” wingspan to pair with a measured 50”!! Max vertical leap.
Each of these players are incredibly gifted and it goes without saying, each will have substantial pro careers once their time is Greensboro is over.
Rounding Out the Starting 5
6’8”/215 junior Kyrin Galloway returns as one of the most naturally gifted players on the roster. He has a complete game as he averaged 9.5 points per game, shot 38% from 3 and snagged 4.3 boards and 1.1 blocks per game last season. Galloway game is the perfect compliment to Dickey as they will play well off one another. Many times, Galloway will also be the best perimeter shooter on the floor, for the team.
6’3”/195 senior Malik Massey will return as the natural leader for this team. While statistically, his numbers aren’t to the caliber of the others, it is Massey who sets the tone on both ends of the floor. Last year, he played with a torn ligament in his left hand, which messed with his shot a bit, but that is the kind of toughness he brings to the table. If Massey plays as good as he is capable, it is he who could be the X-factor in leading this team to another NCAA tournament bid.
6’5”/190 sophomore Kaleb Hunter is back after a freshman season that saw him go for double figures seven times while going for 20+ twice. Hunter is looking to be one who gets a huge uptick in minutes played and should take some major strides with it. He has the opportunity to be a plus defender, especially in the passing lanes and a unique offensive weapon with his ability to score in the mid-post or facing up.
UNC-Greensboro brought in a five man class, that should see 3 (maybe 4) players log good minutes. Local products Keyshaun and Kobe Langley will both log minutes, most likely together, in back up roles in year one. Keyshaun is more of a true point guard, while Kobe is more of a paint touch scorer. What they Langley brothers do is wreak havoc on the defensive end, in the open floor. Year one, expect to see them in a lot of pressure and trapping situations, trying to turn defense into offense quickly. Both of the freshmen are listed at 6’1”/165.
6’10”/220 Bas Leyte of the Netherlands via New Hampton Prep is a floor spacer. He has great size, the tallest player on the roster, but carries a pure stroke with range and confidence. While still getting used to the speed of the game, he will log minutes as a floor-spacing big relatively early.
The wild card here is 6’8”/220 Dericko Williams, who has yet to become eligible from the NCAA. Although only a freshman, Williams brings a rugged nature and athleticism that will get him on the floor early. He is a difference-maker, albeit not a starter, if he is deemed eligible.
Also, 6’3”/170 Michael Hueitt becomes eligible this season after sitting a year after transferring from Old Dominion. Hueitt is the best perimeter shooter on the team, by a wide margin and will force his way into the lineup, especially if he is hitting shots. Look for 6’6”/175 Khyree Thompson, son of former NBA draft pick Kevin Thompson, to log minutes once he becomes healthy. He can really shoot the ball and is an excellent hustle player in the passing lanes and a slippery player on the offensive glass.
This team has a lot of pieces. They were picked second in the SoCon preseason rankings, which is understandable given what they lost, but in talking with the group, they have a lot to play for.