UNC Basketball Recruiting: Best-Case Scenario for Tar Heels' 2014 Class
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When snatching up three top-15 recruits for 2014 (ESPN 100) isn't a best-case scenario, you know Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels are primed for a historical recruiting season. Joel Berry, Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson are ready to fill the gaps and add depth to an already-talented squad in Chapel Hill.
But there is still a void at UNC that must be filled by next May.
Coach Williams is on the trail looking for his next star shooting guard. Leslie McDonald will graduate after this season, and P.J. Hairston isn't expected to return for his senior campaign after passing up on the NBA twice already.
The best-case scenario for Williams and staff would be keeping it in the top 15 with No. 11 Rashad Vaughn out of Golden Valley, Minnesota.
Vaughn is one of best scorers in the class at any position, if not the best. Very few players can create their own shots with the ease of the 6'6", 200-pound off-guard. That's because he has better handles than most kids his age, not to mention a quick, high release that is virtually impossible to stop.
If Vaughn isn't weaving through defenders to take it to the rack, he's dropping pull-up, step-back and spot-up threes.
He can also lead the transition attack without feeling he needs to go coast-to-coast by himself. Vaughn is more than willing to drop a dime to the open man. He may be a great scorer, but he doesn't seem to be as greedy as many players with that attribute.
It's no wonder Vaughn remains the Tar Heels' top priority, according to Inside Carolina.
“I actually hear from (North Carolina) now more than I did before,” Vaughn said. “Coach Roy (Williams) calls me more and we talk a lot, and I also talk to Coach Hubert (Davis) and Coach C.B. (McGrath).”
Vaughn was admittedly close to committing to UNC after an unofficial visit in March. Unfortunately, he and his parents decided it would be best to play the field for a little while.
That's how quickly things can turn around in this era of recruiting.
The issue soon became more disconcerting, as Vaughn stated he likely wouldn't visit UNC again—though he didn't completely discount the notion. He also said his parents would have to visit whatever school he chooses "and feel good about it."
They didn't join him on the last visit to Chapel Hill.
Knowing the chances of landing Vaughn are slimming by the day, Williams couldn't stay married to the idea of landing his top prospect. The Hall of Famer had to expand his recruiting to make sure he lands a top-flight off-guard to play alongside his stable of impressive point guards.
Keeping his options open, Coach Williams extended an offer to No. 16 Devin Booker, who is widely considered one of the top three-point threats in the class. Their courtship was short-lived, however, as Booker recently narrowed his list to five.
Top five- Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan St. & Missouri. No order.— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) August 12, 2013
The Roy Williams recruiting train may have hit a few turnouts down its long, grueling path, but it hasn't run out of steam just yet.
The Tar Heels also offered 4-star Robert Johnson out of Richmond, Virginia back in late July. The rising prospect was hardly a blip on the radar before breaking out during the spring and summer sessions.
He is just the 25th-ranked shooting guard on ESPN, but he has catapulted to No. 8 on Scout.com's list of 2-guards. ESPN's rankings are usually pretty accurate by the end of the recruiting seasons, but they tend to be a little slow on the uptake.
Johnson would be a perfect guard in Roy Williams' system. He wouldn't take away as many shots from teammates as Vaughn likely would, but he can be a deadly scorer when he chooses to be.
Johnson has excellent range and a smooth stroke, though his release is a touch on the slow side. Like Vaughn, his ball-handling and intelligent play open up shots all over the floor.
Williams' guards have been lacking the mid-range game, and Johnson would come in fully versed in that area. If he can tighten his dribbles a little more and speed up his release over his senior season at Benedictine College Prep, there is no doubt he'll continue to climb the ranks and become a true weapon for whichever program he picks.
Johnson visited Indiana this past weekend, staying until about 6 p.m. on Monday. Many folks were expecting the guard to commit to IU, but his recruitment remains up in the air at this point.
"It was really good," Johnson's father told Justin Albers of AllHoosiers.com. "We're going to fly home tonight and take the next few days to talk and think about it before talking about any specifics regarding the visit."
In this case, no news is good news. At least for now.
Coach Williams has an in-home visit with Johnson and his family set for September. If he can hold out a little longer, the Tar Heels' chances will surely increase.
I'm sure everyone remembers the saga last year with 2013 recruit Troy Williams, who eventually ended up in Bloomington. He hosted Johnson during the visit, and Johnson also plays for Troy's uncle, Boo Williams, in the AAU circuit.
"They can't afford to let him get to that North Carolina visit because then you never know," Boo Williams said. "They better not let him get there."
You know he's getting a heavy push from those guys, and Roy Williams will have to do some serious sales work to turn the tide.
There are a few other shooting guards who could end up getting offers on the Tar Heels' radar, though it will probably depend on how well the Johnson visit goes.
James Blackmon, who sits at No. 25 on the ESPN 100, recently de-committed from Indiana (per Scout.com, subscription required), which opened the spot for Johnson's recruitment. Strangely enough, Blackmon also visited the IU campus this past weekend.
Indiana won't have room for both of those guys, so perhaps one of them will fall into UNC's lap.
The Tar Heels have also been monitoring No. 33 Ahmed Hill this summer, who was a bit of a disappointment. Hill was thought to be the "next in line" (per Scout.com, subscription required), but Johnson had the better summer, earning the offer from UNC.
Which SG will Roy Williams land?
Matthew Fisher-Davis rounds out Roy Williams' current list of shooting guards. The Charlotte native was virtually unknown until he ended up on the national radar due to his shooting prowess this summer. The UNC staff caught a glimpse of him in July and plan to evaluate him further this fall (subscription required).
Fisher-Davis currently has offers from Georgia, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Wake Forest.
You definitely can't knock Roy Williams' efforts to complete this 2014 class.
There is no doubt landing Rashad Vaughn would be the best-case scenario for the Tar Heels going forward. And his commitment could also seal the top spot for Carolina on ESPN's class rankings (subscription required).
Robert Johnson comes in at a close second.
But these other prospects are still pretty solid, and there will be plenty of talent surrounding them in Chapel Hill. No matter how it goes down, Coach Williams will pull in one of his best classes of all time.
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