Looking ahead at North Carolina’s small forward position in 2012-13:
Key Losses: Starter Harrison Barnes (early entry, NBA draft); reserve Justin Watts (graduation).
Key Additions: Freshman J.P. Tokoto.
Player to Watch: The Tar Heels boast a bunch of veterans at this position, so it’s going to be interesting to see how Tokoto, the rookie, fits in.
Coach Roy Williams, during his January radio show, described him as an “incredible athlete.” But he’ll have to earn his minutes, since Bullock, McDonald and Hairston can play both shooting guard and small forward.
Said Williams: “He’s a Vince Carter-type athlete. He gets way, way up there. He did some kind of 360 and still brought it back and whammed it on the back of his head and dunked it, too. He was almost eyeball-to-eyeball with the rim. Great family. His defensive potential is big. … Needs to shoot the ball a little bit better and understand how important it is to make sure he doesn’t turn it over.”
Question Mark: Does McDonald play sixth man?
The junior ended up redshirting in 2011-12 after offseason reconstructive knee surgery. But before he injured his knee in a 2011 summer league game, reports were that he was shooting well, playing aggressively -- and might even contend for a starting position.
Look for him to push for an opening slot again, especially since he was able to practice with his team over the closing months of the season. But he could also make a big impact as the team’s “energy guy” -- the first player off the bench to spark his team at both shooting guard and small forward.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.