North Carolina Basketball: Ranking Recruiting Priorities After Austin Nichols
After gobbling up two of the top recruits in the 2013 class in Nate Britt and Isaiah Hicks, the North Carolina Tar Heels were on the fast-track to securing the No. 1 overall recruiting class in 2013.
In addition to that, some of the top players in the nation had UNC on their short list. And while it will surely be a battle to get the top spot, North Carolina's chances to gain the crown took a hit when Austin Nichols trimmed his list to six schools, excluding the Tar Heels.
The 6'8", 215-pound Nichols was rated the 10th-best player in the 2013 class by ESPN. Nichols is unsure if he'll sign during the early signing period in November or wait until April, but the chances of Nichols changing his mind are pretty slim.
While North Carolina received the commitment from Hicks to fill the power forward spot, he looks to be more suited playing the three in college, due to his lack of strength and ability to hit the mid-range jumper. That, along with Nichols' rejection, leaves the Tar Heels with major needs in their frontcourt.
What can UNC do to regain the top spot in 2013's recruiting class? A few simple things.
Get a Commitment from Jabari Parker
I know, I know. A lot easier said than done. But it comes down to one thing...if Jabari Parker signs a letter of intent with the Tar Heels, they will instantly have the best recruiting class in college basketball.
I'll go one step further, with two top players already committed (Hicks 5-star, Britt 4-star), receiving a commitment from the best high school player since LeBron James would give them the best recruiting class in college basketball history. That's how good he is.
Parker has North Carolina on his short list of teams that also includes the likes of Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and the team they are currently battling with for the top spot in 2013's recruiting class, Florida.
Parker is a multi-positional talent, whose game exceeds the level of everyone on the court.
Parker has transformed his body and his game since his freshman year of high school. He's slimmed down his frame, built up his strength and turned into an all-around athlete. He is capable of defending the opposing teams' big man and then follow it by posting the same player up on the other side of the ball.
With North Carolina's lack of depth at the small forward spot, Parker would and should be priority No. 1. Although Parker is slated to stay in school for only one year, this silky-smooth "point" forward is well worth the gamble, as he is bound for great things.
Need a PF? Look No Further
If Jabari Parker is No. 1 in 2013's recruiting class, Julius Randle is No. 1a.
Randle is a strong, physical and athletic low-post scorer. He has the speed to face up defenders and attack the basket, while also having the ability to use his powerful build to grab rebounds and slam it back home.
His athleticism and rebounding prowess are his calling cards to success. He offers rarely-seen rebounding skills at the high school level, averaging a solid 9.8 his junior year at Prestonwood Christian Academy. He also led the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League in rebounding over the summer with 10 per game.
Randle and Parker do possess a lot of the same qualities basketball-wise, both each have crafted their specific skill sets to their liking. Parker is much more of a slasher and game-changer, while Randle uses his big body to dissuade opponents from entering the paint.
A combo of Parker-Randle would take the college basketball world by storm, with each showing his passing skills, unbelievable athleticism and great perimeter play along the way.
Some argue that Randle will offer more to his team in the future because of his ability to hit the mid-range jumper and possesses a strong post game, but at this point, I think North Carolina would be happy either way.
Lock Up Troy Williams
Although Troy Williams is listed as a small forward, he is more likely to play the two in his early years at college. His slight frame allows him to slip by defenders and put the ball away with his inhuman athletic ability.
Another reason he is more likely to play shooting guard in college is because of his extremely long arms. Williams' wingspan and speed give him an edge on most guards defensively, specifically against the two-guard.
Williams is still quite raw and streaky offensively, but has developed a strong mid-range game since his freshman year. Williams stays in attack mode at all times, using his non-stop motor to snatch rebounds and to get easy putbacks.
He's not quite at the same level as Parker and Randle, but Williams has a chance to be an elite collegiate wing. He offers playmaking ability that is not often seen by a player with his frame. He will remind a lot of people of Tayshaun Prince of the NBA; never the best shooter or strongest guard, but offers a rare combo on both sides of the court.
He will never be the flashiest player on the court, but definitely the headiest. Hidden gems like Williams are often overlooked because they will never draw public attention. But Williams will be a glue guy in college, sure to bring savvy and levelheadedness to a program for four years.
Get a Big Man
Kennedy Meeks is the top-rated center by ScoutHoops.com. Meeks was offered a scholarship in early May because of his rebounding efficiency and passing capabilities.
He clogs the paint, using his Sean May-like body to bump opponents out of the way. Early on in his recruitment, many colleges were scared off due to concerns with his weight and dedication to the sport but since then, he has trimmed down and looked good doing so.
At 6'8", 255 lbs, his finishing ability is unlike most other high school players, bullying opponents in the post and making it look easy while doing so. He's not the most polished of players and would honestly need some time to mature, but Meeks would allow the Tar Heels to spread the floor while he remains camped out in the paint.
Meeks isn't the most nimble or athletic player in the world, but would allow the aforementioned players to have space to create. Meeks has a soft set of hands and a tremendous touch around the basket, something that Roy Williams looks for out of his big men.
If North Carolina can get a commitment from at least two of these men, the Tar Heels will go into the recruiting season holding the crown as the top team overall. Also, expect the offensive fireworks to fly as this is already shaping up to be a great recruiting class for the Heels.