Let the duel begin!
Last week, 5-star small forward Troy Williams narrowed his choices to the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Kentucky Wildcats. And with the Phoebus High School star's latest comments, his 2013 commitment has come down to Roy Williams or John Calipari.
As reported by Rob Harrington of Inside Carolina, Troy Williams admitted his deciding factor:
“It’s going to come down to which coaches I like best and have the best relationship with.”
It doesn't sound like it will be an easy decision, either.
“I’m definitely close to the guys who have played for (Carolina), but Coach Calipari is a good friend of my uncle, too. I talk to the two of them about equally.”
Williams expects to make a decision by the first or second week of May, so we will find out his destination soon enough.
To be honest with you, I have a bad feeling he may be headed to Kentucky, but there is still hope for UNC until he actually signs on the dotted line—and that probably won't happen until 2013. The decision Troy Williams makes could be pivotal for the 2013-14 team and beyond.
It wasn't very long ago that we felt the pain of witnessing Kentucky take out North Carolina in the Elite Eight. And had the Heels not suffered the injuries they did in 2012, the two would have likely met in the national title game.
To contend for a title, UNC must win the recruiting battle with Kentucky.
As they say, verbal commitments are worth as much as the paper they aren't written on, but the Wildcats recently picked up 5-star center Nerlens Noel. He is the latest addition to a 2012 class that boasts three 5-stars and a 4-star to back up Noel.
I think the Tar Heels did well with their 2012 recruits, but it wasn't on the level of Kentucky's recruiting class.
Roy Williams is off to a good start for 2013, locking up a couple 5-stars, Nate Britt and Isaiah Hicks, to verbal commitments. Four more 5-star prospects are considering North Carolina, and three of those players have Kentucky on their list, too—including Troy Williams.
Not only would Carolina be getting a potential game-changer in Williams, but it would also block out another 5-star recruit from Kentucky. Yes, the recruiting battle in the ACC is important, but I feel Kentucky rising to a dominant level if someone doesn't kick the chair out from under them.
I'm hoping that “someone” is North Carolina.
North Carolina did manage to pick up a 4-star small forward in sophomore J.P. Tokoto for 2012, but the Heels may be thinned out at the 3 by 2013.
I've predicted Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston to have a great season next year at small forward, assuming that's where Coach Williams puts them—it only makes sense. Whether or not you feel they are NBA material, the two may see a window of opportunity open up for them at the next level. It has been said that Hairston was already considering going pro after his freshman campaign.
If Hairston was really considering going pro after this past season, I think it's safe to say he is gone if he actually shoots over 40 percent next season.
That scenario would leave J.P. Tokoto by himself at the 3. As much as I like Tokoto's prospects, I like what I've seen from Williams even more. He very well could take over Tokoto for the starting job.
Either way the rotation is sorted out, Tokoto and Williams would be a killer 1-2 punch from the wing. Both are high-flying, dominant athletes that could take over the game at any moment. If they both improve their shooting, they could be the deadliest duo in the country.
While I was a fan of the way Harrison Barnes stuck to the players he guarded like glue, I would not classify him a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. Troy Williams, however, is a playmaker.
Williams hasn't developed the on-the-ball defense of Barnes, but off the ball is where he truly shines. Much like James Michael McAdoo, Williams seems to like camping the passing lanes and will take a pick straight to the rack without hesitation. I have no doubt he will do that with the same frequency McAdoo did in his freshman campaign.
Not only does he pick pockets, but he likes to give shots a good swat every once in a while. His shot-blocking ability is similar to that of Danny Green the way he seems to fly in out of nowhere to erase shot after shot. At 6'6”, it isn't his height that gets Williams the blocks—it's supreme athleticism and jumping ability.
In no way is this a knock on Barnes' defense, he just didn't cause as many turnovers or block nearly as many shots as I expect to see from Troy Williams in 2013. Solid defense is solid defense, but nothing on the hardwood excites me more than turnovers and fast breaks—and that's exactly what made the 2009 Tar Heels so dominant.
Williams is what I would consider a great open-court player, with an excellent half-court game.
Troy Williams already plays at the tempo the Tar Heels have become known for during the Roy Williams era. That actually seems to be one of the reasons he narrowed his choices to Kentucky and North Carolina—both programs rely on a great transition game.
With Williams' playmaking defense, he seizes every opportunity to take it coast-to-coast. His transition game is undeniable.
Though a great transition game isn't unusual or hard to come by for the the Tar Heels, a great half-court game has been an issue of late. When Marshall went down this season, the offense went stagnant.
Carolina just didn't have great shot creators.
Williams is still being molded into a complete player—after all, he's only a junior. But there is no denying his ability to slash to the basket and create offense. If he can improve his dribbling skills and knock down shots with a little more consistency, his half-court game could become virtually unstoppable.
Is it the end of the world for Carolina if they don't pick up Troy Williams? Absolutely not.
Roy Williams has compiled an impressive list of 2013 prospects for UNC, which includes Jabari Parker—the top-ranked small forward in the class. However, none of those prospects have narrowed down their choices as much as Troy Williams, and it would be crucial for the Heels to nail him down this early in the game.
Not only would he be the third 5-star recruit of the 2013 class and improve the team immensely, but it could serve as a big blow in the recruiting battle between Roy Williams and John Calipari.