North Carolina Basketball: Tar Heels' Biggest 2013 Recruiting Needs
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Oh, the joys of recruiting.
When I do pieces like these, I truly feel for the coaches around college basketball. It's enough to bang your head on the wall over. That is no different for Roy Williams in 2013.
The Tar Heels certainly have some needs, but they could have more or less depending on which player or players decide to enter the NBA draft. He can't put out too many offers and overload the team, but he must remember UNC could be obliterated by the decisions of his underclassmen.
At least John Calipari knows all his kids are leaving year-to-year.
If Leslie McDonald ends up ballin', as the last year of hype has lead us to believe, will he forfeit his redshirt senior season?
We could ask the same of Reggie Bullock, who would also be a senior in 2013.
And what about P.J. Hairston? There was at least rumor that Hairston was 50/50 on heading to the NBA—and that was with him shooting 30.8 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from downtown over 13 minutes per game.
If that is true, I'm saying he's gone no matter what. In a nutshell, Roy Williams could have three shooting guards or none.
Then, of course, there is James Michael McAdoo. He had a tough time with his decision last year, so I have no doubt he is gone.
Then again, he could decide to stay if they're close to a title. Are you feeling me yet? For the sake of the article and my head, we will assume he does not return.
Coach Williams has already received verbal commitments from 4-star point guard Nate Britt and 5-star power forward Isaiah Hicks. They are ranked fifth and sixth in their class, respectively, at their positions on Scout.com.
Though they are verbal commits, in this case we will assume they stick to their word. On to the roster.
Photo Courtesy of D1BasketballRecruiting.com
PG: Marcus Paige, Sophomore
PG: Nate Britt, Freshman
*PG Luke Davis
**SG: Leslie McDonald, Redshirt Senior
**SG: Reggie Bullock, Senior
**SG: P.J. Hairston, Junior
SF: J.P. Tokoto, Sophomore
PF: Isaiah Hicks, Freshman
PF: Brice Johnson, Sophomore
*PF: Jackson Simmons
C: Desmond Hubert, Junior
C: Joel James, Sophomore
**Possible early entries for the NBA draft
As you can see, Carolina already has a full deck. There is a 12-scholarship limit, and if the shooting guards stay, Coach Williams will have to make Simmons and/or Davis walk-ons.
This is allowed because they are “preferred walk-ons.” Their scholarships are renewed annually, so they can be yanked to fill a void.
At least there is some wiggle room here.
Will P.J. Hairston return?
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As I said in the intro, Carolina could have three shooting guards or none. That could be why Roy Williams' offer sheet is empty at the 2.
I would contest there is at least room for one more either way, so it would be a good idea to go ahead and throw out some offers. But Coach is wise, and he may not be high enough on the prospects to throw out offers yet.
There is a lot of talent in the 2013 class, though, and it isn't exactly lacking at the shooting guard position. Nine of them are in the top 25 of the ESPN 100 rankings. Only one of those nine has committed, and that was Matt Jones to Duke.
Aaron Harrison would be a solid choice, but he's going in a package deal with his twin brother and point guard Andrew. It's a great deal, but UNC already has Marcus Paige and Nate Britt, along with transfer Luke Davis at the 1.
James Young and Keith Frazier are a couple other big names, but neither has North Carolina in their crosshairs. The same can be said of all shooting guards, except 3-star Isaiah Lewis.
As obvious as it seems to poke at some shooting guards, that hasn't been Williams' strategy thus far. He could also be banking on one of the following big-time prospects to convince Bullock and McDonald to stay for a title run.
Last time he sold players on staying another year, Carolina got a title out of it in 2009.
Jabari Parker Highlights
Hairston and Bullock will likely be used at the 3 in 2012, due to a lack of small forwards and an overabundance of shooting guards. Chances are, that won't be the case in 2013 and their services will be needed again at the 2.
That would leave then sophomore J.P. Tokoto as the lone small forward on the squad. Bolstering this position is a must, and it is where Roy Williams is focusing a good portion of his time.
The nation's top prospect, according to Scout.com and ESPN 100, Jabari Parker tops his list—and UNC is at least on Parker's. Last week, Parker released his top 10 choices for 2013, and Carolina remains one of his options.
Even with his injury, Jabari Parker should remain the top prospect—and reasonably so. Parker is off-the-charts good.
The other offer that has been put out for small forward went to Troy Williams. Though he is a solid player on both ends of the court, his character has come in question since pulling out of the UNC or Kentucky decision.
Soon after pulling out, Troy Williams dropped from No. 6 overall to No. 42 in the ESPN 100. Then Andrew Wiggins (No.1 in 2014 ESPN 100) claimed Troy called him overrated in a tweet he posted. That was after Wiggins dropped 32 points in a Nike EYBL game versus Boo Williams' squad.
With that news, Roy Williams may start looking toward laying down an offer for Nick King. King recently cut his list down to five programs, and UNC remains on that list. Considering the circus that has been Troy Williams, it would behoove Coach Williams to offer the No. 15 player in the 2013 ESPN 100.
Julius Randle Highlights
With Isaiah Hicks and Brice Johnson slated for the 2013 roster, the power forward position could be a little cramped.
It certainly isn't a “need.” But when you have a player like Julius Randle still in the open market, there's no reason to stop recruiting here.
As I indicated in a recent article on Randle, he has the skill set to move to the 3 if needed. The same could possibly said of Hicks, as he has more of a face-up game than back-to-the-basket. However, Randle has better range and stronger slashing capability.
Though there is no timetable as of yet for his decision, he is deciding on his five visits. Though North Carolina hasn't made that list yet, I still ranked them as No. 2 in his top five. I still stand firm that it will be a North Carolina school.
Don't stop now, Roy.
If Julius Randle falls through and Coach Williams still wants a power forward, UNC is still on Jonathan Williams' list. There is no offer yet on the No. 8 power forward in Scout.com's rankings. He may not get one, either.
I strongly believe Roy Williams' recruitment of Julius Randle is about getting a top-tier versatile player that could dominate at two positions. If UNC can't snag Randle, there isn't a great need at power forward and Williams may not pursue another.
Austin Nichols Highlights
The starting center position could be locked up for a few years if Joel James lives up to my expectations. Desmond Hubert has also made strides to improve his game and could become much more formidable than anticipated.
However, he will be a junior and it wouldn't hurt to have someone waiting in the wings in this double-post system.
Kennedy Meeks is the highest-ranked center North Carolina has offered. Meeks has drawn comparisons to 2005 title winner Sean May. He is a big boy at 290 pounds but, like May, lacks in height at 6'8”. He also has soft hands and a smooth touch, reminiscent of the former Tar Heel.
Meeks does lack a motor, however, which is why I would personally go with the second option. Austin Nichols is that option.
Though he is ranked the No. 6 center on Scout.com, this 4-star prospect is improving every day. He may be three inches shorter than Tyler Zeller at this time, but his build, motor, game and even his looks are an eerie reminder of the latest ACC Player of the Year.
With a decent range and a solid post game, he could even slide in at the 4 if necessary. Wearing No. 44 and the way he runs the floor has Z written all over it. I'll take that over Sean May any day of the week.
In my mind, if Roy Williams is going after a center, Austin Nichols should be the one at the top of his list.
We will see how this all plays out soon enough. One thing is for sure, Coach Williams has his hands full, and his head is bound to be spinning.
I know mine is.