2022-23: 19-8 (7-5), 3rd in DAC, 1st Round of Playoffs (L to Sanderson 48-53)

Key Losses

Ryan MacKinnon – 15p, 7r, 2a, 1s, 55 3pm – Graduated – Playing at Choate Rosemary Hall
Tyler Stillson – 8p, 3r, 1a, 50 3pm – Graduated – Playing Baseball at Case Western

Key Returners

David Mirikwe – Sr – 9p, 3r, 3a, 2s
Franklin Johnson – Sr – 8p, 4r, 1a, 1s
Andrew Herring – Sr – 7p, 3r, 1a, 1s
Ben Cohen-Vogel – Sr – 4p, 1r, 1a
Thomas Evans – Sr – 3p, 3r, 1a, 1s
Jason Kreig – Jr – 2p, 4r, 1s
Sebastian Clapham – Jr – 2p, 2r
Alex Smollen – Sr – 2p, 2r

Key Newcomers

Brian Rollins – So – JV
Wes Kreig – Jr – JV
Juice Mcllewaine – So – JV

Projected Rotation

Starters: Ben Cohen-Vogel, David Mirikwe, Franklin Johnson, Andrew Herring, Alex Smollen
Bench: Sebastian Clapham, Jason Kreig, Juice McIlewaine, Brian Rollins, Wesley Kreig


Storylines

The Tigers return 61% of their points and 62% of their FGAs from a year ago, along with 74% of their stocks. They bring back three starters, many valuable bench pieces, and multiple key players from their 19-3 JV team. They'll be one of the older and more experienced teams in the triangle with five of the top six in their rotation being seniors and just two sophomores projected to impact the varsity level. They were a consistent and gritty team last year, starting the year 8-0 and going 15-1 against teams that missed the playoffs. Their non-conference schedule this season is ramped up with a handful of high-profile matchups designed to test them early in the season.

Given their long, athletic backcourt and 6'9' big man, this team will be one of the most punishing defensive units. David Mirikwe, Franklin Johnson, and Andrew Herring are all physical guards with good instincts and a level of toughness that is rare to find, especially within the same starting lineup. They can all guard up multiple positions, able to handle bigger wings or forwards while overwhelming smaller guards with their physicality. They'll be able to funnel traffic right to big man Alex Smollen, who, at 6'9' (and still growing), will be the best rim protector in the DAC. Around this core group of guys, pieces such as Ben Cohen-Vogel, Jason and Wesley Kreig, and Sebastian Clapham will provide solid system defense while Brian Rollins and Juice McIlewaine will bring a similar level of toughness and intensity to the backcourt off the bench.

A big question mark for this offense will be how they replace the shooting of the recently graduated Ryan MacKinnon and Tyler Stillson. The two combined to shoot 160/428 (37.4%) over the last two seasons, that's almost nine attempts per game that they'll be replacing. The backcourt trio mentioned above will be able to partially fill the void, specifically Johnson as he's been the most efficient shooter of this senior class throughout their careers. Senior PG Ben Cohen-Vogel will be tasked with making a leap in this regard, possessing the mechanics, touch, and confidence to take the next step as a volume shooter.

The rise of their backcourt trio has been quiet and steady. Mirikwe, Johnson, and Herring have all consistently progressed into high-level defenders, with each bringing a complimentary offensive skillset to this team. Mirikwe is the engine, he's an elite downhill attacker who uses his explosiveness, length, and body control to finish around the rim with relative ease. He also has great vision and makes difficult passing reads with regularity. Johnson is an efficient playmaker who shoots it at a high clip and will be their primary off-ball scoring option. Herring will be a nice compliment to the other two as a tertiary scoring option. He's at his best getting downhill and finishing through traffic, a playstyle that fits this team's system well.

Senior big man Alex Smollen has taken incredible strides this offseason and will be a focal point for this team. He's improved his mobility, coordination, and timing, now being able to seriously deter shots around the rim and control the glass. He has solid touch around the basket and understands how to fit within the system. He'll be used in a variety of ways on the offensive end and Chapel Hill should be able to capitalize on his size advantage in an otherwise small DAC.

Cohen-Vogel, along with juniors Sebastian Clapham, Jason Kreig, and Wesley Kreig, will make up the majority of their depth. Cohen-Vogel is a heady and crafty lead guard with great passing vision and should slot in nicely alongside the other senior guards. Clapham and Jason Kreig will give this unit much needed forward depth, with Clapham acting as a 6'5' – 6'6' hybrid that can do a bit of everything while Kreig is your classic glue guy, guarding tough matchups and making winning plays. Wesley Kreig (Jason's twin brother) was the lead guard for the Tigers' 19-3 JV team last season. He's in a similar vein as Cohen-Vogel in that he simply knows how to make the right play.

Sophomore guards Brian Rollins and Juice McIlewaine will round out the rotation, both bringing exciting flashes to an otherwise experienced group. Rollins is a gritty point guard with a strong frame. He plays at his own pace and understands how to run an offense. McIlewaine is a great athlete who can play either wing spot. He has real explosiveness when getting downhill and is proving to be comfortable as a shot maker.

Chapel Hill has quietly grown into a very difficult team to deal with on both ends of the floor and, thanks to their tough non-con schedule, a lot of very good teams are going to find that out very early in the season. They're long, athletic, cohesive, and experienced, and will be as tough as anyone in the DAC to compete with. Expect this team to push for a conference regular season and tournament title while being a group that no one will want to see in the middle rounds of the playoffs.