Welter: Like his signature burrito, RJ Davis has all the ingredients rolled into one ::

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Welter: Like his signature burrito, RJ Davis has all the ingredients rolled into one  ::

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Welter: Like his signature burrito, RJ Davis has all the ingredients rolled into one

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Posted January 31, 2024 8:52 p.m. EST Updated January 31, 2024 9:12 p.m. EST

UNC guard RJ Davis has it all. Outside shot, drive to the basket, floaters, step back threes, playmaking and defense. Roll it all into one and you've got the ACC's leading scorer on the conference's number one team. I suppose it's fitting for his signature menu item to be a burrito, with flavor to spare.

"I'm just a big burrito guy and I love shrimp," RJ said as I sat down with him at a table at the O'YA Cantina in Chapel Hill. This is the third season since NCAA NIL rules went into place that the restaurant has served RJ's Cajun shrimp burrito.

"I think the burrito spoke RJ," the Tar Heels senior guard said. "We added the shrimp which is one of my favorite dishes, the sauce with the beans and the rice gives it that mexican flavor."

RJ came up with the burrito recipe with O'YA Cantina owner David Sadeghi.

"We started cooking a bunch of stuff together and we put one together that turned out to be favorites by everybody," Sadeghi said. "We made our own Cajun seasoning for his shrimp."

Sadeghi also owns Town Hall Grill in Chapel Hill which has several other locations around the Triangle. He's been a Tar Heel fan since he moved to North Carolina in 1999, and jumped at the NIL opportunity when it became available.

His UNC player themed menu items began with Armando Bacot's "Mondo Burger" at the Town Hall Grill. Leaky Black had his own chicken tenders and this season the new item is Elliot Cadeau's Chicken and Waffle sandwich. The O'YA Cantina is the only restaurant where you can get RJ's burrito.

"It depends how good the boys are doing," Sadeghi said about UNC related food sales. "Two years ago we couldn't stop them coming in, last year was a bit down for everybody. It's not just us, every business in Chapel Hill when the Tar Heels are not doing well."

Fortunately for Sadeghi, RJ Davis is having the best season of his career.

"It means a lot to receive the recognition for all my hard work and just to see how it's been paying off," RJ said when I asked him about finally receiving national attention. "I'm more than grateful for it."

A new career high thirty-six points versus Wake Forest in January tasted pretty sweet as well.

"I looked up at the jumbotron and it said ties career high with thirty, so I said 'I at least have to get two more points'" RJ laughed. "Luckily I had the teammates to find me and put me in the right position to go get thirty-six. That's something I'll cherish forever."

It's been great to see RJ smile again. Last year he and Armando Bacot had to face tough questions and criticism all season long culminating in them missing the NCAA tournament a season after making the national title game. Ironically the loss to Kansas was re-airing on the O'YA Cantina television while we were waiting to eat.

"Last year wasn't the way I intended that to go, especially after making the Final Four run," RJ said. "So it's re-writing my legacy in my senior year, just have a blast."

RJ said he never considered transferring after UNC's season ended with a loss to Virginia in the ACC tournament and the team opted to not play in the NIT.

"I had set in my mind the job's not finished and I felt like I hadn't really done anything yet," RJ said. "Went to the national championship game, lost, didn't make the NCAA tournament my junior year, so the job wasn't finished for me."

RJ said he wasn't ready to think about a possible fifth year at UNC like his teammate Armando Bacot yet. But he was ready to eat his burrito which he hadn't had in a bit.

"Wow," I said as I took a bite into the sliced burrito. The warm shrimp and Cajun flavor immediately burst and ignite my taste buds.

"What you think?" RJ asked as he bit into his.

"It's like a shrimp rice bowl, but in one bite," I said.

As much as RJ is into food, his main hobby outside of basketball is fashion. He said he got into it senior year of high school and likes to shop for vintage clothes.

"I always see a lot of NBA players for instance Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that's one of the players I look to fashion wise," RJ said. "I just like trying on new things and new clothes because I think it also expresses yourself."

RJ said he has interest in starting a clothing brand. I suggested his "three point goggle" celebration be his logo.

"That might be tough right there," RJ laughed.

It's been an adjustment for Tar Heel fans to see RJ's former teammate wearing new colors. Caleb Love is also having a career year with the Arizona Wildcats. Love transferred after last year's disappointing season. RJ admitted he and Love let some of the outside noise get between them.

"It was definitely hard dealing with praise and criticism at the same time," RJ said. "At the end of the day me and C-Love are still brothers. He's doing well at Arizona, and I'm playing well at UNC. There's never been any bad blood between me and him. We always wanted what's best for each other and it happens to work out.  I'm super happy for him and the way he's been playing and for myself."

"We still talk from time to time and have that brother bond," RJ continued. "Change is needed sometimes and that's what happened this year."

Whatever chemistry issues might have existed between RJ and Love, there seem to be none with this year's squad. Hubert Davis has repeatedly talked about how rare it is to see a team enjoy each other's company like this. RJ said he thinks they have the right ingredients to win it all.

"The chemistry is real with this team, we do a great job of making sure everyone's involved," RJ said. "One thing that really got us going was our defense. We are really taking pride in being a great defensive team."

"We want it, we want to win," RJ finished.

The ingredients by themselves are one thing, but rolled into one they are greater than the sum of their parts. Reminds me I've got a burrito to finish.

"Gotta get you your burrito man," RJ laughed as he took a big bite.

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Welter: Like his signature burrito, RJ Davis has all the ingredients rolled into one  ::

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