The clock is ticking for North Carolina and 2013 recruits yet to commit to a program. The early signing period looms ahead, starting on Nov. 14 and running through Nov. 21. With that in mind, Roy Williams and the UNC coaching staff is working hard on the recruiting trails.
Thus far, Nate Britt, Isaiah Hicks, Troy Williams, Julius Randle and Kennedy Meeks have been visited by the Tar Heels staff, while a Jabari Parker visit is in the works for later this week.
I know it may surprise some to see Britt and Hicks on that list, as the have already pledged their allegiance to the Tar Heels of Chapel Hill. But remember that is just a verbal commitment, and they are allowed to change their mind before signing.
UNC has also been heavily recruiting the top power forward of the 2013 class, Julius Randle. Considering he plays the same position, one would assume that could affect Hicks' decision. However, there haven't been any reports to indicate such.
It never hurts to nail it down, and that appears to be what they have done with the latest visit.
Hicks indicated to Inside Carolina's Sherrell McMillan (subscription required) he plans to attend "every [UNC] game" this season, and may make his official visit during the weekend of "Late Night with Roy Williams," which is scheduled for Oct. 12.
Considering he committed to Carolina the same day he was offered a scholarship, we shouldn't have to wait long to find out about Isaiah Hicks. And I don't think he would attend every game if there was a decision to be made.
I fully expect Hicks to sign on Nov. 14.
The same is likely true for Carolina's other verbal commit, Nate Britt. And though he has a point guard ahead of him, 2012 recruit Marcus Paige, he is actually excited about playing with the fellow floor general.
According to ESPN Recruiting Nation's Dave Telep, Britt had this to say about playing with Paige:
"The thing I look forward to the most is probably playing with Marcus Paige. I feel like us two in the backcourt together could be great. When Coach Williams was at Kansas he had Kirk Hinrich and two other point guards and that was one of his better years at Kansas."
That could certainly be a lethal pairing.
UNC also visited with Troy Williams, who cut his list to Carolina and Kentucky back in April and was set to make a decision within weeks. He flipped on that and later added Louisville, Florida, South Carolina and Georgetown to the list.
Soon after pulling out of the decision, Troy Williams' ranking plummeted 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.
Then Troy Williams and friend Anthony Barber reportedly had Rick Pitino's Louisville program high on their list and talked of being a package deal (subscription required). That deal is now off the table, with Barber's commitment to NC State.
Yes, the recruitment of Troy Williams has been like a bad afternoon soap opera, filled with enough waffling to make Brett Favre jealous. But he is just a kid, so I'm hoping this is just a matter of a tough life decision, rather than a reflection of his personality.
Williams is expected to be a late commit next spring, so don't expect a decision any time soon.
One thing that works in UNC's favor is Williams being paired with Nate Britt at Oak Hill Academy this year. Signing on with Carolina would also stick him on Tobacco Road with Anthony Barber, allowing the two to hang out on weekends and do battle on the hardwood.
I'd say the scale has tipped in UNC's favor, but it's hard to put a peg on Troy Williams.
A decision for Julius Randle may come much faster, according to an Inside Carolina (subscription required) interview with his high school coach, Chris Mayberry. “He just wants it (the process) to be done so he can concentrate on his high school season,” Mayberry said.
Randle just had an official visit with Kentucky and is scheduled to have an official with Florida on Oct. 6. His remaining three official visits will be decided after Randle finishes sizing up his 10-team list, through in-home visits. His final in-home visit will be with Baylor on Sept. 22.
For now, I truly feel this is a race between Kentucky, NC State and UNC.
“Julius has always been impressed with Carolina’s tradition and with Coach Williams,” Mayberry said after UNC's in-home visit with Randle. Roy Williams looked to impress him even more, breaking out a box of championship rings that included one borrowed from Michael Jordan—who remains a strong selling point for Carolina.
“He had a box full of all kinds of rings he had received over the years,” Mayberry went on to say. “It was pretty special. Probably the biggest one was, I think, Michael Jordan’s first championship ring that he gave to him to use. That was really cool to see.”
We can only hope Julius Randle was as excited as his coach.
Kennedy Meeks also received a visit from the UNC staff on Sunday, and the recruiting of ESPN 100's top center has only been amped up since Austin Nichols dropped UNC from his list. Rightfully compared to former Tar Heel Sean May, Meeks is a big kid with a nice touch.
Though the list of schools throwing Meeks offers is long and distinguished, Carolina remains close to the Charlotte native's heart.
“It is going to be exciting,” Meeks said in an interview with Inside Carolina (subscription required). “Him and I stay in contact a lot and he is a real good coach. Obviously he knows how to win, and he knows how to develop players. It should be pretty cool to have him in and I am looking forward to it.”
Kennedy Meeks' decision is expected to come toward the end of the early signing period. Don't be surprised to see him sporting Carolina Blue before December.
Finally, there is Jabari Parker, who is the top recruit in every ranking except the Rivals 150. He sits at No. 2 behind Julius Randle on that list.
Parker's in-home visit is scheduled for this week, but a specific date has yet to be set.
I don't have a good feeling for Parker and North Carolina, but I really don't have much to go on. He has kept any favoritism he may have for programs under lock and key.
In my latest 2013 recruiting predictions, I have Jabari Parker heading to Michigan State. But even that was pure guesswork from a tweet listing his top 10 schools.
Even in the aftermath of the academic scandal, things are still looking up for Roy Williams and the Tar Heels. They already have an excellent class of recruits at Chapel Hill for 2012, and it would appear they could have an even stronger class coming in for 2013.
There is still much work to be done, and many months to work their magic, but there is no lack of effort from the UNC coaching staff on these recruits.