Jae’Lyn Withers is poised for a breakout season

I sincerely hope this isn’t a jinx, but the upcoming season is shaping up nicely for the UNC men’s basketball team.

RJ Davis announced his return for a fifth year, a decision that, by itself, should make North Carolina a favorite to cut down the nets in April. Seth Trimble also withdrew his name from the transfer portal, giving the Tar Heels two experienced guards. Belmont transfer Cade Tyson announced his commitment to UNC, and North Carolina is bringing in five-stars Drake Powell and Ian Jackson.

Jae’Lyn Withers, a key reserve for the Tar Heels last year, also announced his decision to return on Thursday, May 2.

Withers was a key reserve on last season’s team that ran to the Sweet 16. He averaged 4.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game while shooting 52.6% from the field. His season highlights included a pair of double-doubles: the NCAA tourney opener against Wagner and a Jan. 17 game against Louisville.

Tyson is likely to slot in as UNC’s starting power forward even though he’s more of a small forward. That sets up next season to be a breakout campaign for Withers.

First, Withers is 6 feet, 9 inches – an ideal height for a power forward. Withers does most of his damage in the paint, but he has shown an ability to step out and make the occasional jump shot. The Tar Heels will be deep at center, with Jalen Washington, Zayden High and James Brown fighting for minutes at the five-spot, but Withers could see minutes at center, too.

Withers will be utilizing his COVID-19 year – in other words, he’s a fifth-year player. For a fairly inexperienced – but talented – UNC team in the fall, Withers can act as a great role model. We know head coach Hubert Davis likes playing his veterans, so I like Withers’ path to playing time a great deal.

I’m not saying Withers will be the next great power forward at North Carolina, following in the footsteps of Harrison Ingram and Brady Manek, but I really like his chances to start and contribute towards the Tar Heels’ success.

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire