NCAA Transfer portal: Pete Nance at home with UNC basketball

Leaky Black knew nothing about Northwestern transfer Pete Nance as a person or as a player before meeting him on his visit to North Carolina. Yet it didn’t take long for the fifth-year senior to believe Nance would “fit in perfectly” with the Tar Heels for next season.

UNC men’s basketball coach Hubert Davis likes to solicit his players’ input on potential recruits in order to maintain a good locker room culture. Black joked his first inclination after meeting Nance was to call him ‘Mr.’ because of Nance’s professional and mature demeanor.

“Right off the bat, if we feel like they’re selfish or they have a big ego, it’s not going to work,” Black said. “…Not even watching like a couple of highlights, I was just like, yeah, he’s gonna be a perfect fit because of the way he carries himself. He does it with class, just shows professionalism.”

For those unfamiliar with Nance — a 6-foot-10 forward who is the son of the first NBA dunk contest champion — he might simply be considered as the next Brady Manek.

There are some similarities. Nance will only be eligible for a year after having played four years at Northwestern and graduated, just like Manek after four years at Oklahoma. And both shot more than 40 percent from 3-point range last season.

Manek left a huge void, especially due to the way he played the second half of the season when he was a full-time starter after Dawson Garcia left the team.

“One of the things that coach Davis said was, ‘I don’t really want you to come here and be Brady Manek, I want you to come here and be Pete Nance,’ which I really appreciated,” Nance said. “It’s obviously very easy for the run he had and how well he played all year, I would think you would want somebody to play as closely as you can to that. But it was pretty cool that he (Davis) said I want you to come here and be yourself.”

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Pete Nance talks with the media about transferring to North Carolina from Northwestern, during a media availability on Monday, July 18, 2022 at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, NC Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

Nance averaged 14.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and shot 45.2 percent from 3-point range last season for the Wildcats, leading the team in each category. He was asked to play center a lot for Northwestern, where he was undersized going against players like Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson and Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn. Nance will get to spend more time at power forward for Carolina, which could open up his playmaking abilities.

UNC forward Armando Bacot said Nance has the chance to be a “really, really, really, really big time player, especially in the ACC.”

“He’s got good length and he’s athletic,” Bacot said. “So I think when I get in foul trouble, I get subbed out, it won’t be that huge of a drop off in the paint. And he’s got that ability to block shots and just give us a paint presence.”

UNC guard Caleb Love said in just a few practices that the team has held this summer, ‘it’s kind of like we had him for a year already.”

Nance joined Love, Bacot, Black, RJ Davis and Puff Johnson on a trip to the Outer Banks. They made an appearance at Kill Devil Hills for a stop on the barnstorming tour and spent several days hanging out.

“Obviously being able to kind of spend a good amount of time with them off the floor was a big thing,” Nance said. “You were able to see on the floor and through the TV screen how good of players they were. But I think being able to spend time with them and see that they’re just as good of people as they are as they are players I think was something that was really special for me and kind of helped solidify my decision.”

Nance said choosing Carolina was an easy decision — once he decided that returning to college was his best option. Nance had entered his name in the NBA draft and participated in the G League Elite Camp — where he met Manek.

He wasn’t one of the few players invited to go from the G League camp to the NBA combine that week. But he believed the experience will help him be a better player this season.

“Going through that whole thing — and I really thought I had a good chance — was great for me and great for my confidence,” Nance said. “And I’m just excited to be able to bring that over to another team in college for sure.”

As much as Nance heard about Carolina basketball, the experience of being a part of it was greater than he expected. He found out firsthand what it’s like to be in the “family” on his official visit when Anthony Harris, who had already announced he was transferring to Rhode Island, was still in Chapel Hill and told him he should commit to UNC.

“Being able to be here and kind of see what it’s all about, it’s really been amazing,” Nance said. “It’s not really a mystery as to why this place has the banners that it has hanging up.”

With four starters returning from its national championship appearance last season, Carolina hopes Nance proves to be the missing piece to add another title banner next year.

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CL Brown covers the University of North Carolina for The News & Observer. Brown brings more than two decades of reporting experience including stints as the beat writer on Indiana University and the University of Louisville. After a long stay at the Louisville Courier-Journal, where he earned an APSE award, he’s had stops at ESPN.com, The Athletic and even tried his hand at running his own website, clbrownhoops.com.

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