Current Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2014 22:21:05 -0400
As the 2014 recruiting cycle begins to come to a close for Roy Williams and the North Carolina men’s basketball team, it is a good time to break down how the program has done on the recruiting trail, and discuss the work that is still being done.
This primer will take a look at the current commitments and remaining targets for 2014, along with brief notes about UNC targets who have decided to play elsewhere. Stay tuned over the next few days for updates on the 2015 and 2016 classes, along with a brief look at the 2017 class.
Note: National player rankings listed are based on the 247 Composite rankings system, which compiles rankings data from every major national scouting service.
Expected Players Leaving: Leslie McDonald (graduation); P.J. Hairston, James Michael McAdoo (NBA Draft)
Open Scholarships: Four (Three commitments, one scholarship remaining).
Roster Needs: Capable wing scorer and defender, High-level outside shooter.
The Tar Heels already have three commitments for the class and are looking to add a fourth. Currently, the trio is the ranked as the nation’s consensus No. 1 recruiting class.
PG Joel Berry (Lake Highland; Orlando, Fla.), 6-foot, National Rank: No. 18
Date Committed: January 21st, 2013
Date Offered: Aug 6th, 2012
Likely role at UNC: Bringing toughness and aggression from the point guard position.
Main Strength(s): Strength, Floor presence
Needs to Improve: Outside shooting
F Justin Jackson (HYCA; Houston, Texas), 6-foot-8, National Rank: No. 9
Date Committed: March 4th, 2013
Date Offered: Aug 9th, 2013
Likely role at UNC: Scoring efficiently from mid-range and adding length on defensive end.
Main Strength(s): Mid-range scoring
Needs to Improve: Strength/muscle
G/F Theo Pinson (Wesleyan Christian; Greensboro), 6-foot-6, National Rank: No. 19
Date Committed: May 22nd, 2013
Date Offered: July 17th, 2012
Likely role at UNC: Providing high-level wing defense and scoring ability as a slasher.
Main Strength(s): Athleticism, Defense
Needs to Improve: Outside shooting
Looking for a fourth and final piece to add to the 2014 recruiting class, the UNC recruiting staff currently has open offers out to two players.
G Dante Exum (Australian Institute of Sport; Canberra, Australia), 6-foot-5.
Date Offered: July 10th, 2013
Likely Role at UNC: Versatile combo guard with scoring ability
Other Schools Involved: Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Oregon
UNC’s Chances: Not good. Exum’s UNC ties are undeniable (his father, Cecil, played for Dean Smith from 1980-84) and the Tar Heels are the biggest-name team involved in the recruitment. However, Exum is considered a sure-fire Top 5 selection in next year’s NBA Draft and is old enough to enter the draft directly without going through a year of college. Ultimately, Exum must decide between the NBA and a year of college, and it seems likely he will go straight into the pro ranks.
G Rashad Vaughn (Findlay Prep; New Hope, Minn.), 6-foot-5, National Rank: No. 13
Date Offered: Feb. 15th, 2013
Likely Role at UNC: Outside shooting specialist
Other Schools Involved: Arizona, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Minnesota, UNLV
UNC’s Chances: Not good. We talked to Vaughn’s coach about UNC last week, and the reason that he postponed his official visit to campus (originally scheduled to visit Sept. 27-29th). Vaughn definitely still may visit UNC, but the recruitment is difficult to get a read on. Sources have indicated that UNLV is likely the ultimate destination and that it will be hard to pull Vaughn away from Vegas. Iowa State has been involved for a while and was considered the favorite at one point.
G James Blackmon (Marion; Marion, Ind.), 6-foot-4, National Rank: No. 31
College Choice (Date): Indiana (10/31/13)
Date UNC Offered: Sept. 9th, 2013
Why UNC Missed: Immediately after Blackmon de-committed from Indiana in early August, Kentucky was thought of as the leader. His father (James Blackmon Sr.) played for the Wildcats and Blackmon Jr. was expected to do the same. However, Blackmon took an unconventional route, reaffirming his commitment to the Hoosiers on Halloween.
G Devin Booker (Moss Point; Moss Point, Miss.), 6-foot-6, National Rank: No. 26
College Choice (Date): Kentucky (10/31/13)
Date UNC Offered: March 12th, 2013
Why UNC Missed: Booker cut UNC from his list in July, and it was not a major surprise to most. Booker’s play in the spring and summer was inconsistent, and the Tar Heels may have begun to show less interest. Booker ultimately decided to commit to Kentucky, choosing the Wildcats over Missouri and Michigan.
G Robert Johnson (Benedictine; Richmond, Va.), 6-foot-3, National Rank: No. 47
College Choice (Date): Indiana (9/20/13)
Date UNC Offered: July 29th, 2013
Why UNC Missed: This one was a close call, and most believed Johnson would ultimately choose UNC. In the end, Johnson’s first official visit was to Indiana and he was recruited very heavily by the Hoosiers.
G D’Angelo Russell (Montverde Academy; Louisville, Ky.), 6-foot-5, National Rank: No. 17
College Choice (Date): Ohio State (6/7/13)
Date UNC Offered: April 12th, 2013
Why UNC Missed: The Tar Heels got in late with Russell and faced an uphill battle. In the end, Russell had developed a great relationship with the Ohio State coaching staff and was a priority recruit for the Buckeyes.
F Justise Winslow (St. John’s; Houston, Texas), 6-foot-6, National Rank: No. 11
College Choice (Date): To Be Determined
Date UNC Offered: July 31st, 2012
Why UNC Missed: A commitment from Justin Jackson caused UNC and Winslow to move in opposite directions, as the need at the forward spot was filled. Arizona and Duke are thought to be the favorites in Winslow’s recruitment.
Future Heels is a DTH blog covering North Carolina recruiting, with a focus on basketball and football.