Julian Applebome takes a closer look at Joel Berry's 19 point, 5 rebound, 5 assist, 2 steal performance in just 23 minutes, against highly regarded point guard prospect Dennis Smith. Berry shot an efficient 6-10 from the field and 4-4 from the free throw line.
Berry, a former McDonald's All-American, has fully embraced his new role as leader and go-to guy for top-10 ranked North Carolina. He played a fairly minor role as a freshman, and then shared point guard duties as a sophomore with senior and eventual second round pick Marcus Paige, helping the Tar Heels reach the NCAA Tournament Championship game.
Now a junior, and with the keys to the offense in his hands, Berry is having a tremendous season, averaging a stellar 21 points, 5 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.8 steals per-40, shooting 60% for 2, 42% for 3 and 92% from the free throw line.
Questions abound about his just-decent size (6'0 in shoes), length (6'3 wingspan) and athleticism, as well as the fact that he's a year old for his class (turning 22 in April). Berry is doing what he can to answer those with tremendous productivity, a high intensity level defensively, and strong games against all the best point guards he's faced thus far. Continuing to win games is the best thing he can do heading into a tough decision in store for him regarding the 2017 NBA Draft, where he'll find a crowded group of much younger point guards.
Julian Applebome is a video analyst for DraftExpress. Follow him on twitter and check out the DraftExpress Video section. He will be breaking down the NBA draft in digital format all year long for us.