North Carolina Basketball: 5 Targets Tar Heels Should Recruit Harder for 2013
Not only are we three months away from the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, but the early signing period for the 2013 class begins shortly after the college season tips off.
The early signing period will go from Nov. 14-24, and we can probably expect more commitments from the top-ranked players in the class, such as Jabari Parker and Julius Randle. With many of those top recruits on North Carolina's wish list, it is becoming crunch time for Roy Williams and the rest of his staff at UNC.
It's time to pick the guys they have the best shot with and give it their all.
While landing the No.1 and No. 3 players in the country, according to ESPN 100, would be fantastic, the Tar Heels' coaching staff also needs to start focusing more on some other premier players in this recruiting class.
That doesn't mean Parker and Randle should be left to the wolves, but it wouldn't hurt to spread the love to other prospects.
Jabari Parker Highlights
I've yet to get a good feeling about North Carolina and Jabari Parker. I just don't think it's going to happen. But when your program is on the No. 1 prospect's top-10 list, you can't stop trying.
He also plans on making his decision before his senior season starts, so there is little time to work with. I truly feel that too much time may have been wasted on moonlighting Troy Williams. But I was on that boat, too, so I can't knock the coaching staff.
Parker has just about everything you could possibly want from a basketball player, skill-wise. He could use a little more meat, but his silky smooth nature on the hardwood keeps his strength from being a major issue.
Jabari Parker is like a mixture of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. He's smooth and has the perimeter game of Kobe, along with the passing and defensive prowess of LeBron.
Even after going down with fracture in his foot, Parker still retained his top spot.
This is a guy everyone should want, and Carolina shouldn't give up until he inks a commitment.
Julius Randle Highlights
Another player with a large repertoire at his disposal is No. 3-ranked Julius Randle. He is expected to cut his list to five programs sometime in the near future.
Until he cuts Carolina from his list, Randle should stay a primary focus.
If Joel James becomes the beast I expect him to be, this could be the most lethal frontcourt combo the folks in Carolina have witnessed in quite some time. Randle is listed at 225 pounds, but he looks like he tips the scales closer to 235. On the other post would be the 260-pound Joel James.
Talk about beast mode.
Randle is an aggressive power forward that loves to use his body and has surprising handles to take it to the rack. But if the defender backs off to prevent penetration, he won't hesitate to light up the net from anywhere on the court.
It's hard not to love big power forwards that can drop treys.
I have no doubt that Julius Randle will end up in the state of North Carolina, but N.C. State and Duke are also in high pursuit for his services.
It's tough to say where the big fella will land. Coach K is always a factor and his friend Rodney Purvis is playing at State. But Randle does like Roy Williams and his system, along with the colors that come with being a Tar Heel.
Perhaps I'm not the only one that thinks Julius Randle would look perfect in Tar Heel Blue.
If the Randle project falls through, then they should release the hounds on Johnathan Williams. Until then, Randle should own the recruiting effort.
Kennedy Meeks Highlights
I'll be honest with you. I wasn't high on Kennedy Meeks in the beginning. I felt he was too big and slow to be a top prospect for Roy Williams' high-octane system, but he really started to come around over the summer and it has paid off tremendously.
Since the summer evaluations began, 18 schools have offered Meeks a scholarship—so many, in fact, that he has a hard time remembering them all (subscription required). Fortunately, Carolina wasn't one of the programs that didn't pop off the top of his head.
In the linked interview with GamecockAnthem.com, Meeks mentioned he doesn't know what schools he is going to visit yet.
In an interview with Inside Carolina (subscription required), just five days prior, Kennedy Meeks said, “I’m going to visit UNC whenever I have time. I plan on making a trip, but my schedule is just really tight right now with camps and events back to back.”
Maybe he just forgot. Either way, he seems to be heavily considering North Carolina.
What stands out the most about Meeks is his vision and passing ability, along with his soft hands. He isn't a clumsy big—he's just big. He also has been working to extend his range, which is already making him harder for defenses to deal with.
I still think he needs to shed some extra baggage for Carolina, but that's something he is working on, and he looks a lot more fit than he did at the start of his junior season. That's exactly what Joel James did, so we could see the same from Kennedy Meeks.
JaJuan Johnson/Nick King
JaJuan Johnson Highlights/Interview
As I mentioned earlier, I don't have a good feeling about Jabari Parker making it to Chapel Hill. Obviously, Coach Williams wants another small forward to go with J.P. Tokoto in 2013.
After all the work on Troy Williams, it doesn't seem like he will be heading to North Carolina either. He had narrowed his list to Kentucky and North Carolina, but that short list turned into 11 after his postponed decision.
Now he's talking about possibly teaming up with Anothony “Cat” Barber (subscription required) and Louisville seems to be a favorite among the two.
If I am correct about those two prospects, then that still leaves a void at small forward. Nick King would be a perfect solution to the problem.
What I really like about King is his ability push the ball up the floor and shoot like a 2-guard, but he can also post up and rebound like a small forward. In reality, the 6'7” prospect out of Memphis could play either position. His game and size is somewhat comparable to current Tar Heel, Reggie Bullock.
But out of all the players I mentioned, he has yet to get an offer. That probably has to do with Troy Williams still being on the list. I say it's time to drop Troy from the list and go with King.
And though there hasn't been much to go on about the possibilities of King choosing Carolina, I did come across an intriguing quote—and it wasn't from Nick King.
In an interview with National Recruiting Spotlight, shooting guard JaJuan Johnson mentioned North Carolina and Duke as schools he'd really like to get an offer from. And even though he has offers from 12 other schools, he said, “I’d be highly excited to get offered from either of those [Duke and UNC] so I probably would [commit].”
It turns out he was a fan of the rivalry growing up, so those two programs remain on his wish list.
The significance of this is that he is friends with Nick King and the two have discussed playing together. “Me and Nick King talk about going to the same school,” Johnson said, in the same interview. “It’s important but it’s not that important. It’s just whatever fits us both. If something fits him but not me it obviously wouldn’t work out.”
Roy Williams has yet to offer or really even recruit a shooting guard. I think this could be a mistake because there was rumor that P.J. Hairston was considering the NBA after his poor freshman season.
What if he has a good one this year?
Reggie Bullock only has one year of eligibility left. What if he breaks out this season, as I have predicted?
The Tar Heels could be left with Leslie McDonald—or possibly even nobody—at the 2-guard spot, and I think it would be smart to snag a shooting guard. And since they never went after my pick, Wayne Seldon, he cut Carolina from his list and is no longer available.
Johnson is ranked No. 61 in the ESPN 100, but I can see that ranking going up over the next year. On top of that, there's nothing wrong with going after a 4-star recruit that is anywhere in the Top 100.
Johnson has good size at 6'5”, can light up the net from anywhere and has the ability to get to the rim. I have no doubt he and Nick King would be a perfect pair in Carolina—especially if matched up with some heavy-hitters down low.
Neither of these players have received an offer, and I'm not sure the coaching staff has even considered JaJuan Johnson. But I think this is the smartest pair to put their crosshairs on.
Class ranking means nothing and championships are everything. The Tar Heels need to make sure that they lock down solid players at the position. They can't spend all their time and effort on the top dogs.
That's how a program gets burned. It's time to give these two some love.