In the latest installment of our season in review series, we look back at the 2013-14 seasons for Joel James, Jackson Simmons and Desmond Hubert.
Season stats: James: 1.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 38.8 FG%, 77.8 FT%
Simmons: 1.0 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 55.0 FG%, 50.0 FT%
Hubert: 0.6 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 46.7 FG%, 29.4 FT%
Season in a sentence: Carolina's reserve post trio served as role players in 2014.
Season highlights: James began the season as the starting center but struggled to maintain consistency and battled a sprained knee that forced him to miss four games. Despite that, however, he played an important role in Carolina's two biggest early-season wins. The sophomore won the defensive player of the game award in the win at Michigan State and contributed five points and six rebounds against Louisville. His effort against the Cardinals included a key second half three-point play that stemmed a Louisville run that had built a four-point lead for Rick Pitino's club.
Simmons made many of his contributions with intangibles, but has developed a knack for doing the right thing at the right time in important games. He played credible defense against future NBA lottery pick Julius Randle against Kentucky and won the team's defensive award in that game from the coaching staff. He also made two key plays against Louisville, scoring four second-half points and drawing the charge that fouled out Cardinal center Montrezl Harrell.
According to Roy Williams, Hubert has evolved into Carolina's best post defender. Most of those contributions came during conference play, but he did give the Tar Heels a solid six minutes in the Kentucky win.
Against the ACC: James' season took another unfortunate turn when he returned from the injury he suffered against Texas and scored four points and grabbed five rebounds in eight minutes against Miami. But his evening was curtailed when he was ejected following an elbow on an attempted rebound. He struggled to get in a rhythm over the remainder of the season, with perhaps his best game coming in the senior day win over Notre Dame, as he had five points and two offensive rebounds against the Irish. James' two field goals in that game matched his total field goals over the previous 16 games combined.
Simmons actually worked his way into the starting lineup in the home game against Boston College, but an elbow in the forehead sent him to the locker room for stitches. As usual, Simmons played one of his best games in Tallahassee, where he has had an important game for two years in a row. This time, he played an ACC season high 12 minutes. During that stretch, he dove on the floor for a loose ball that he turned into an assist and grabbed a rebound. The junior scored six points against Wake Forest on Feb. 22.
After missing three games due to a concussion in January, Hubert seemed to adapt very well to Williams' request for him to be Carolina's occasional interior post defensive presence. He was terrific in the home win over Duke, with two points, five rebounds and a block. He also gave the Tar Heels 20 points, two rebounds and a block in the win at Florida State while also winning the defensive award from the coaches.
Postseason: James grabbed a couple of rebounds against Pitt in the ACC Tournament. Simmons made a free throw against the Panthers. Hubert was the most frequently used of the trio in the postseason, as he saw 20 postseason minutes, including 11 against Providence, a game in which he had three rebounds.
Season stats: 13.7: James' offensive rebounding percentage, which ranked as the second-best on the team, behind only Kennedy Meeks. His defensive rebounding percentage of 23.5% was likewise second-best on the squad.
55.0: The effective field goal percentage for Jackson Simmons, behind only Brice Johnson in that category for the 2014 Tar Heels.
6.7: Desmond Hubert's block percentage, which would have been close to the top 100 in the nation if he'd played enough minutes to be eligible.
Adam Lucas is the editor of CAROLINA.