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UNC basketball, coach Hubert Davis land one of top players in NCAA transfer portal

North Carolina is getting one of the nation’s top college basketball transfers.

Cade Tyson, a Union County native, is transferring from Belmont to North Carolina. He’ll take his final exam at Belmont next week, and expects to leave for Chapel Hill on May 15.

Tyson, 20, said he chose the Tar Heels over Tennessee.

“Honestly,” Tyson said, “I’ve been praying throughout the whole process, and at the end of the day, I felt this was where God was leading me. I liked Tennessee and I liked the people there, and no discredit to them. I like the people at Carolina as well.”

Belmont guard Cade Tyson (10) shoots over Lipscomb guard Derrin Boyd (4) during the second half at the Curb Event Center in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023. Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean/USA TODAY NETWORK
Belmont guard Cade Tyson (10) shoots over Lipscomb guard Derrin Boyd (4) during the second half at the Curb Event Center in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023. Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean/USA TODAY NETWORK

Tyson is a 6-foot-7, 205-pound forward who will be a junior in the fall.

Last season, as a sophomore, he averaged 16.2 points and 5.9 rebounds for Belmont and made the all-conference team. He shot 46.5% from 3-point range, ranking No. 2 nationally. He is a career 44.6% 3-point shooter with 128 made 3s in two seasons.

Tyson averaged 13.6 points and 4.6 rebounds as a freshman and was Missouri Valley conference rookie of the year.

His brother, Hunter, was an first-team All-ACC player in the 2022-23 season at Clemson. Hunter Tyson was picked in the second round of the 2023 NBA Draft. He is now a rookie with the Denver Nuggets.

“He wasn’t going to tell me where to go,” Cade Tyson said of his brother, “and he wanted me to make my own decision. But he knows college basketball as well as anybody and he’s been helping me through the process and giving me advice on what to look for.”

Carmel Christian’s Cade Tyson drives to the basket. Carmel Christian would play the Cougars of Chambers High School at the MLK Classic Saturday January 15, 2022. Jonathan Aguallo
Carmel Christian’s Cade Tyson drives to the basket. Carmel Christian would play the Cougars of Chambers High School at the MLK Classic Saturday January 15, 2022. Jonathan Aguallo

Tyson said that UNC coach Hubert Davis made him no guarantees about playing time but thought he would be a good fit at small forward.

“I’ve got to go in there and prove myself,” Tyson said. “They acknowledged that I’m versatile.”

Tyson, who has a 3.8 GPA, will continue his sports administration major in Chapel Hill and said that NIL money wasn’t a big factor in his decision to play in the ACC.

“It did play a role,” he said, “but it wasn’t the main role. I waited until the end to think about NIL. I wanted to make sure I picked a school that was good for me apart from money.”

As of Saturday, CBS Sports ranked Tyson as the No. 16 transfer in the portal, which includes nearly 2,000 Division I players.

“I’m definitely happy with my decision,” he said, “and I definitely think I made the right move (by transferring). I wouldn’t say I’m happy for it to be over. Out of high school, I wasn’t very highly recruited and I got a second go at it, and I’ve been looking at it (as) a blessing and an opportunity. I’m just happy there aren’t as many unknowns anymore.”

As a high school senior, Tyson led Carmel Christian, in Matthews, to an N.C. 3A independent schools state championship. He was named Mr. Basketball, the state’s top individual honor, and scored more than 2,000 points in his prep career.

Tyson once had 48 points in a high school game at Georgia’s Rabun Gap on 26 shots.

“He’s the most efficient basketball player I’ve seen at the high school level,” former Carmel Christian coach Joe Badgett said. “When my assistant came in the locker room and said he had 48, I didn’t believe him. I said, ‘I just coached the game and he didn’t have it.’ My assistant showed me the (scorebook). I was amazed. It was just that he got it all in the flow of the game. We won 85-80. It wasn’t a blowout. We needed all 48 points to beat them.”

Badgett thinks the Tar Heels are getting a winner. He said in high school Tyson would come to school at 6 a..m to shoot by himself. In the afternoon, after practice, when Badgett was cleaning up, Tyson would go to the locker room, change out of his practice uniform, and go back in the gym while Badgett was washing clothes and cleaning up.

“We walked out together a lot of nights,” Badgett said. “He would bring an extra pair of basketball clothes every day. He’s just a high character kid who refuses to be outworked. There’s a reason he shoots the ball the way he does. That kid is a gym rat. He loves the game. He studies the game and he works at it and that’s why he’s as good as he is.”