Trailing by two with seconds left in the championship game, Pete Nance dribbled up the floor, anticipated the double team district coming, and whipped a pass to his Revere High School teammate for the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Nance, the newest addition to North Carolina men’s basketball team for the 2022-23 season, has always had a pinchant for making the right basketball play, regardless of if he gets the glory or not.
“He’s always been a very unselfish player — almost unselfish to a fault,” said Revere High coach Dean Rahas, who coached both Nance and his older brother, Larry Jr. “Sometimes we had to tell him, ‘Look you got to score more, you gotta quit giving the ball up.’ But the thing about him is he’s got the ability to impact the game without scoring a lot.”
The 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from Northwestern has done his share of scoring. He led the Wildcats last season with 14.6 points per game and shot a team-best 45.2 percent from 3-point range.
He also led the team in rebounding (6.5 per game) and blocked shots (34) and was second on the team with 81 assists. Last season, Nance joined Ohio State’s EJ Liddell as the only players in the Big Ten to average more than 14 points, six rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Nance’s well-rounded game is the reason why the Heels are excited to add him with their 13th and final scholarship for next season.
“To complete our roster, we needed a big-time experienced player who could contribute right away,” UNC coach Hubert Davis said in an official statement. “We found that player in Pete Nance.”
And while Davis said last week that he’d be fine with his roster if they didn’t add another player, Nance’s commitment on Saturday plugged what would have been a big void on their roster.
Carolina needed another big for the frontcourt, preferably a stretch-4 who could shoot 3s. It’s why the program pursued Baylor transfer Matthew Mayer, who ended up signing with Illinois.
Like Mayer, Nance entered his name into the NBA draft while also entering into the transfer portal in case his best option was returning to college. Nance, whose father Larry Sr. Played 13 years in the NBA, did not get an invite to the NBA combine to showcase his skills for teams.
But Nance has shown plenty in his four years at Northwestern.
He often had to battle centers in the Big Ten last season — and the league didn’t lack top notch post players including Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn, Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson and Purdue’s Zach Edey and Trevion Williams. Still, Nance garnered honorable mention of all-Big Ten honors.
Nance could be the new starter in UNC’s lineup, which returns four of its starters from last season’s team that played in the national championship game. Just don’t call him the next Brady Manek.
Manek, the former Oklahoma transfer who endeared himself to UNC’s fanbase with his 3-point shooting, his hustle — and even his beard — was always a good shooter. Manek made more 3s (98) than Nance attempted (93) last season. More than half of Manek’s shot attempts (54 percent) were from behind the arc. Only 28 percent of Nance’s total shot attempts were 3s.
Nance spent four years at Northwestern developing into a shooter. He shot just 26 percent from 3 as a freshman and increased to 29 percent as a sophomore. His big jump came as a junior when he increased to 36 percent, before crossing the 40 percent mark last season.
Nance will benefit from playing in a lineup where he is surrounded by scorers. And Carolina’s returning starters Caleb Love, RJ Davis, Leaky Black and Armando Bacot will benefit from his ability to shoot from the perimeter.
Nance played in a system at Northwestern that was heavily influenced by NBA-style sets. At UNC, he’ll be asked to do some of the same things, as Davis recently mentioned his desire to utilize more dribble handoffs. Nance could also be a good option in pick-and-roll situations to “pick and pop,” stepping outside to shoot 3s.
Rahas believes Nance is not only a great addition to the Tar Heels’ lineup, but a perfect fit for the culture UNC has built in its locker room.
“He’s not your typical, high-level, high-profile player,” Rahas said. “He has a real high basketball IQ just like his brother. He’s willing to make the extra pass to get guys shots and gets excited for his teammates.”
This story was originally published June 22, 2022 9:36 AM.