F Desmond Hubert, Junior, 6-10, 225 lbs.
Desmond Hubert began the 2012-13 season as the surprise starter at center, and immediately the decision was second-guessed. Hubert started 18 of the first 23 games but was offensively-challenged and Carolina's offense seemed to sputter with Hubert in the post. The problem last season was the offense wasn't much better with the other options at center, and the offense didn't really take off until the Heels went to a smaller lineup, relegating Hubert to a greatly reduced role. On the other hand, Hubert did show flashes on defense and actually led the team in blocks with 30. Given his offensive struggles and atrocious foul shooting (21%), it was easy to see why he went from starter to spot player.
Fast-forward to 2013-14 and Roy Williams' stated desire to play a bigger lineup than last year. The opportunity is there for Hubert to step in and earn key minutes at the center position. There is no getting around his 6-10 frame and he has added about 10 pounds since last year. Early indications are the potential for a revolving door at center between Hubert, Joel James, and Kennedy Meeks. James and Meeks check in at offensive lineman-like weights of 280 and 290 respectively, so Hubert will offer an athletic, shot-blocking alternative to the other beefier center candidates.
For Hubert to become a more consistent contributor, he will have to improve on the offensive end of the floor. While he shot a respectable 54% from the floor, he only took 35 shots in 36 games. The paltry 1.1 points per game average will not scare anyone as to his scoring ability. He will also need to improve on the glass, as a 6-10 guy who started 18 games averaged less than two rebounds per game.
Once more, center will be a questionable position for the Tar Heels and competition for the position will be wide open. It will likely be center-by-committee yet again unless Carolina is forced to go small again.
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