UNC Basketball Recruiting: How Roy Williams Should Add to Loaded 2014 Class
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Roy Williams has been criticized throughout his career for picking and choosing the years he hits recruiting hard. But whether you love him or hate him, you have to admit that Williams is one of the best roster builders in the country.
This year has been one where Williams responded to what was a "down" year in Chapel Hill with what could be regarded as one of his best recruiting classes ever. UNC's 2014 class is currently ranked No. 1 by ESPN.com.
Williams added to his team's depth on the wing and at point guard by getting commitments from small forwards Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson along with point guard Joel Berry. He has one spot left to fill in the 2014 class, and it's likely to go to a sharp-shooting guard.
The most successful UNC teams in Williams' first 10 seasons have usually been the best three-point shooting teams.
|2012-13||37.2||25-11||Lost in Round of 32|
|2011-12||33.4||32-6||Lost in Elite Eight|
|2010-11||32.8||29-8||Lost in Elite Eight|
|2009-10||32.8||20-17||Lost in NIT Championship|
|2007-08||37.2||36-3||Lost in Final Four|
|2006-07||35.8||31-7||Lost in Elite Eight|
|2005-06||37.5||23-8||Lost in Round of 32|
|2003-04||35.2||19-11||Lost in Round of 32|
If P.J. Hairston goes pro following his junior year—or gets booted from the team—that leaves a hole for a three-point specialist on UNC's roster.
The candidates, at this time, to become the fourth member of the class and the three-point specialist are Dante Exum, Rashad Vaughn, James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson.
Let's take a look at how each player would fit in Williams' rotation.
If Williams believes he has enough talent to go on a national championship run in 2014-15, then Exum would be the top choice. Exum, whose father, Cecil, played at UNC, is the best guard available in the 2014 class.
The risk that any program runs in devoting a scholarship to Exum is that he could decide to declare for the NBA draft and never play a minute of college ball. Exum, who is from Australia, will have that choice unlike his American peers.
The other decision Williams would have to make with Exum is whether to play him at point guard or shooting guard. Exum, who is 6'6", projects as a point guard in the NBA, but the Tar Heels will be crowded at that spot with Marcus Paige, Berry and current freshman Nate Britt.
If Hairston is gone, UNC would be thin at shooting guard, although Williams has to have visions of playing Pinson and Jackson together. Exum is also not really a three-point specialist—he made only 33.3 percent of his threes this summer during the U-19 World Championship.
But whether he's the ideal fit with this roster or not, it really should not matter. When you're talking about the guy who could be the best guard in the country right away as a freshman, you have to be willing make some adjustments.
Last year, Williams showed he was willing to adjust to get his best players on the floor when he moved Hairston into the starting lineup at the 4. In his final years at Kansas, he started three guards who had all been point guards at one time—Aaron Miles, Kirk Hinrich and Jeff Boschee.
If Exum was willing to come to Chapel Hill, Williams would figure out a way to make it work.
Vaughn is scheduled to visit UNC on Sept. 27, according to recruiting analyst Evan Daniels.
If Vaughn were to commit, that would give UNC three consensus top-20 wings and one of the tallest perimeter groups in the country.
Vaughn is 6'5", Jackson is 6'7" and Pinson is 6'6". All of that size could allow Williams to go small again to get all three on the court at the same time, but it's hard to envision that happening with as many players inside Williams will have.
If James Michael McAdoo comes back, Williams would have two spots to play McAdoo, Isaiah Hicks, Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Joel James, Desmond Hubert and Jackson Simmons. Plus, J.P. Tokoto can also play inside.
Having too much talent is a problem that Williams would probably love to lose sleep over, and he's been in a similar spot before. Two years ago, he had to divvy up time at the 2 and 3 between Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston and Dexter Strickland.
Williams will simply have to convince one of his three wings to wait his time for the greater good of the team. Until his legal problems, that worked out pretty well for Hairston.
As for what Vaughn brings to the table, he's a smooth scorer with a nice perimeter jumper, sort of in the mold of former UNC guard Wayne Ellington. Right away, he would fit as UNC's three-point specialist.
These two are grouped together because they're similar players. Both are 6'3" combo guards with nice jumpers and the ability to play both guard spots.
Johnson could be the player that UNC has the best shot at landing, and he could decide the fate of UNC's class. According to The Daily Progress, Johnson is expected to announce his decision on Friday between Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana and Florida State.
Johnson could fit the bill of a guard as a good shooter who will also be willing to come off the bench early in his career. And with the depth Williams has built, the Heels are set up for another title run over the next three to four seasons.
With that in mind, a player like Blackmon or Johnson could be the ideal fit for this particular group.
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