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North Carolina's RJ Davis returns for his final college season

North Carolina guard RJ Davis — a first-team All-American this season — is returning to UNC for his fifth and final collegiate season, he announced on social media early Wednesday morning.

The 6-foot-2 Davis, who won the Jerry West Award and was named ACC Player of the Year, didn't expect to be selected if he had declared for the NBA draft. Instead, Davis faces a seven-figure win upon his return due to various NIL opportunities. Davis averaged 21.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game this season while shooting 39.8 percent from 3-point range and 87.3 percent from the free throw line .

Davis — the last active player still coached by Hall of Famer Roy Williams — has already cemented his legacy at North Carolina. His jersey will hang in the Smith Center rafters after his college career ends, the first such player to be honored at UNC since Justin Jackson in 2017. Davis bridged the Williams and Hubert Davis eras, played in a national championship game and led the Tar Heels to their first ACC regular season title since 2019.

But there are still a few things he hasn't accomplished at the college level. For starters? Winning a national title, something UNC hasn't done since 2017. RJ Davis was key to the Tar Heels' magical Final Four run in 2022 – which included defeating Duke in Mike Krzyzewski's final home game and then again in their rivals' Final Four game. first-ever NCAA Tournament meet — but winning the program's seventh NCAA title would make Davis a program legend. He is also now within striking distance of the North Carolina record, held by Tyler Hansbrough. Davis is currently fifth in career points and is 784 points behind Hansbrough, the same number of points he has scored this season.

With his official announcement, Davis is expected to be a preseason All-American and a leading candidate to win the Wooden Award, given annually to the country's best player. Davis was a finalist that season, but Purdue center Zach Edey became the first two-time winner since Ralph Sampson in the 1980s.

As for UNC, Davis' return means the Tar Heels will once again play a major role in the ACC. Hubert Davis' team has lost five players so far: super seniors Armando Bacot, Cormac Ryan and Paxson Wojcik, who are ineligible to play; forward James Okonkwo, who transferred to Akron; and forward Harrison Ingram, who declared for the NBA Draft. But with the return of RJ Davis and two new top-10 additions in Ian Jackson and Drake Powell, UNC should be a top-10 preseason team.

The Tar Heels will also return guards Elliot Cadeau and Seth Trimble as well as forwards Jalen Washington, Jae'Lyn Withers and Zayden High. Belmont transfer Cade Tyson — a sharpshooting wing and the younger brother of former Clemson star Hunter Tyson — committed to the program over the weekend. Hubert Davis currently has three open scholarships to choose from in the transfer portal.

(Photo: Chris Seward / AP)

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