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Former coach, enticing system led Caleb Love from North Carolina to Arizona (via Michigan)

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Caleb Love believes everything happens for a reason. So while he was understandably disappointed when his initial transfer plans fell through, it turns out a pretty good Plan B was available.

“I think it’s been great,” Love said of his time so far with Arizona, which added the former North Carolina guard on May 30. “Nothing short of amazing as far as how fast we’ve been clicking. We’ve been together only a few weeks, but it’s coming along great.”

Love entered the NCAA transfer portal after three seasons at UNC, which included a run to the NCAA title game in 2022. He originally committed to Michigan in early April, but a month later he was back in the portal due to Michigan’s admission standards for transfer students.

“Michigan couldn’t accept all of my credits,” he said. “Fortunately, Arizona could.”

Arizona was one of the schools that expressed interest in Love when he initially entered the portal, and he said they reached out again “as soon as they found out” he was back on the market. And a familiar face was at the forefront of the Wildcats’ recruitment.

Assistant coach Steve Robinson, who joined the UA as part of Tommy Lloyd’s first staff after at UNC, was the Tar Heels’ lead recruiter when they landed Love as the No. 14 player in the 2020 recruiting class. The two kept in touch after Robinson moved out west, and his presence here played a big role in Love’s decision.

“Him being here just gave me sort of comfort, just knowing that he was here and he had my best interests at heart,” Love said.

Love scored 1,476 points in three seasons at UNC, averaging more than 15 points per game the last two years. But he also shot it a lot, his 1,360 attempts a good 300 more than Arizona’s six returning scholarship players have launched in their Wildcat careers.

Don’t expect the 6-foot-4 combo guard to be jacking up 36 shots in a game, like he did in a quadruple-overtime loss to Alabama, or the 25 he fired off in an ACC road loss to Wake Forest. Not in Arizona’s system, which he said will call for him to play off the ball much more than with the Tar Heels.

“Obviously, my role has to change a little bit, because this is a different team, a different system,” Love said, noting the difference in spacing from what he ran at UNC. “It’s going to be easier for me to maneuver and make plays on and off the ball. I’m willing to do whatever I have to do to fill that role.”

Love is the second St. Louis native in as many years to join Arizona as a transfer. The first, Courtney Ramey, was one of his main rivals in high school—Ramey’s Webster Groves beat Love’s Christian Brothers Academy in the 2018 Missouri Class 5 state tourney—and they also were teammates on the AAU teams run by Ramey’s father, Terrell.

“I’ve been playing against him since I was in first grade,” Love said. “That’s my guy. I talk to him from time to time and. I’m proud of his success and I look forward to seeing him growing overseas.”