UNC Basketball Recruiting: Tar Heels' Biggest Competition for 2014 Targets

Rollin YeattsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2013

UNC Basketball Recruiting: Tar Heels' Biggest Competition for 2014 Targets

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    Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels are trying to close the deal on one of three prospects they've offered for 2014. But in the crazy world of recruiting, there is always another program standing in the way of a commitment.

    The longer Rashad Vaughn, Dante Exum and Robert Johnson wait to make their decisions, the tougher the competition gets. And there is a good chance Exum and Vaughn won't decide until spring.

    Today, we're breaking down UNC's greatest foes in the courtship of Exum, Vaughn and Johnson. The first one to commit will take the final open scholarship at UNC.

Dante Exum Has a Clear Path to the NBA

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    You may not find Dante Exum on any of the 2014 rankings, but the Australian native is widely considered one of the best in the world at his age. At 6'6", Exum is a monster at the point guard position, attacking the rim with the speed and fervor of Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.

    Don't worry about that point guard label, though, Tar Heel fans. It's highly doubtful Coach Williams was looking for a fourth point when he offered Exum in late August.

    This kid is built for the 2.

    One could assume the Tar Heels hold a slight edge over the rest of the competition, considering his father, Cecil Exum, was a part of UNC's legendary squad that cut down the nets in 1982. Players don't always want to follow in their father's footsteps, though, and Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Oregon offer some pretty stiff competition.

    But no competitor may be tougher to stomp out than the NBA. That's everyone's goal, and the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow is pretty darn enticing.

    Since he is already 18, and will graduate in December, Exum would be eligible for the 2014 NBA draft.

    In the law of percentages, it is clear the NBA has the upper hand on UNC if you believe what Exum told Peter Rolfe of the Herald Sun:

    I used to be like 90 percent to 10 that I was going to college, but recently they are saying that my stock has risen even more, that I could possibly go top five. Now it's more of a 50-50 decision.

    Good luck on this one, Roy.

Good Luck Narrowing Down Competitors for Rashad Vaughn

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    Rashad Vaughn is ranked at No. 11 on the 2014 ESPN 100, and deservedly so. The rising senior is one of the most dynamic players in his class, possessing superior athleticism and an innate ability to score at will.

    At least before an offer was handed to Exum, Vaughn was 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).”

    He 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.

    And it's a big field he's playing in.

    In late July, Vaughn cut his list to 11 potential suitors. Baylor, Iowa State, Kentucky, North Carolina, Connecticut, Kansas, UNLV, Arizona, Georgetown, UCLA and Minnesota are all still in the running for Vaughn's services, and nobody appears to be favored at this point.

    One would assume the perennial contenders such as North Carolina, Connecticut, Kansas, Arizona and Georgetown would be highest on his list. But, again, that's just guess work.

    Vaughn has shown very few signs of leaning in any direction, aside from his "near" commitment to Chapel Hill. On Monday, Scout.com's Evan Daniels reported the star guard would return to Chapel Hill on September 27. This time, it would be with his parents, which is a very crucial aspect of his recruitment.

    Perhaps if they were with him the first time, Roy Williams would already have all of his commitments locked up. It's tough to tell if anyone has an edge on this talented prospect right now.

Indiana May Be North Carolina's Greatest Foe in Recruitment of Robert Johnson

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    Rising prospect Robert Johnson may be the most likely candidate to fill in North Carolina's hole at the 2 in 2014-15. Johnson just recently landed on the radar this summer, inducing a barrage of phone calls from high-major programs begging for his services.

    Now, he appears to be somewhat anxious to finish up the recruiting process after visiting Indiana in late August. In fact, Johnson was close to committing to the Hoosiers, according to Justin Albers of All Hoosiers:

    He told his dad he was thinking about it at the airport afterward, but Johnson Sr. told him it needed to be discussed as a family. After that happened, Johnson thought it was best to hold off and take the other visits.

    That sounds eerily familiar.

    The good news is that this probably won't be dragged out into the spring of 2014 like Vaughn's recruitment. And, so far, Vaughn's "near" commitment to North Carolina hasn't improved the Tar Heels' chances.

    Perhaps Indiana doesn't have the edge we would normally assume with Johnson.

    Johnson just had his official visit to UNC this past weekend. Scout.com's Evan Daniels sat down with the prospect on Monday to discuss his time in Chapel Hill, and it appears the Tar Heels may have at least broken even.

    The Carolina trip was right there as far as the time I had and the questions that were answered and the overall feeling I got from the trip was right up there with Indiana and Virginia. I guess they answered a lot of question and they showed me a good time. So I thought it went good.

    It sounds like Virginia is right there, too. As a Richmond native, he's much closer to home in Charlottesville. However, he pointed out that Chapel Hill is only two hours and 15 minutes from home, "so that’s another advantage to UNC."

    UVA probably doesn't hold much weight in the "close to home" factor.

    Considering he was close to committing to Indiana, and he's planning on setting a date for his decision next week, the Hoosiers have to be considered UNC's greatest competitor.

    Did they gain a big enough edge, though? I guess we'll find out soon.