Joel Berry II cannot seem to catch a break.
After playing with two sprained ankles in the NCAA Tournament, The University of North Carolina senior point guard broke a bone in his right hand and is expected to miss at least four weeks, the school announced on Monday.
It is surely a blow to the 2017 Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, but it could not have come at a better time. With the season more than two weeks away, Berry will not miss much significant game time. In Berry’s absence, point guard duties will be split between freshman Jalek Felton and sophomore Seventh Woods.
Felton, a five-star recruit, is the nephew of former Tar Heel Raymond Felton. Felton will spend much of the year at shooting guard once Berry returns from injury. Woods was a member of the 2017 National Championship team but played just 7.7 minutes a game a season ago. Woods spent much of the offseason improving his game. In speaking with the media, shooting guard Kenny Williams stated he believes Woods is coming into the campaign much more confident compared to last year.
If Berry’s estimated timetable is correct, he will miss the team’s first four games. His first game of the season would likely come against The University of Michigan in Chapel Hill on Wednesday, November 29. The game is part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Berry enters the season as one of two projected season starters to go along with guard/forward Theo Pinson. After averaging 14.7 points per game, Berry is a strong candidate to win the National Player of the Year award this season. The senior guard has brought his points per game average up by at least 1.9 each year in Chapel Hill and he will be the focal point of this team’s offense after the school lost three starters from a year ago.
If Berry can return after a month, this injury is not concerning and could actually help build confidence for Felton and Woods. However, it is something to keep an eye on, especially since Berry has had injury issues in the past. The Tar Heels will open their season on Friday, November 10, as they host Northern Iowa.
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