UNC Basketball: Latest Updates on Tar Heels' Top 2014 Recruits

Todd SalemContributor IIIJanuary 13, 2014

Jul 14, 2013; North Augusta, SC, USA; E1T1 Elite player Joel Berry (11) drives to the basket while being defended by CP3 All Stars players LJ Peak (0) and Nate Mason (2) during the final round of the 2013 Nike Peach Jam at the Riverview Park Activities Center.  Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a frustrating season for Tar Heel fans. The up-and-down nature of the team is exhausting. It is getting to the point where the great wins are becoming overshadowed by the losses. At times of dread, when the fanbase is down in the dumps, it is always promising to look ahead to brighter pastures, to 2014-15, when North Carolina will be bringing in one of the best recruiting classes in the country.

With a few top players around the country still unsigned, UNC currently ranks as having the third-best class in the nation, according to Rivals.com. And that ranking may be going up in the near future.


Rashad Vaughn

According to both 247sports and ESPN, Rashad Vaughn, one of the top overall prospects in the country, will be visiting Carolina on February 15 for an official visit. The 6'5" guard out of Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., is ranked as the seventh-best high school prospect according to Rivals, meaning he would come in as the Tar Heels' top-ranked player.

There are still a number of other schools on Vaughn's list, and he has already made official visits to a few, so signing with Carolina is no guarantee. Nevertheless, adding Vaughn to an already star-loaded class would be a huge boon for coach Roy Williams and Heels fans.

As for some updates on the players North Carolina has already signed, things are looking pretty good.


Justin Jackson

North Carolina's top recruit according to ESPN, Justin Jackson is a 5-star talent out of Tomball, Texas. He is rated as the No. 1 small forward in the nation and grades out as a 96 on ESPN's recruitment database.

Even though his team has not been great, Jackson has been having a stellar season. The 6'7" senior is averaging 30.6 points per game for his HCYA team. He was also just named a 2014 McDonald's All-American nominee, no small feat playing in the state of Texas.


Theo Pinson

The No. 4 small forward and another 5-star recruit for UNC, Theo Pinson is rated as a 95 according to ESPN. Like his soon-to-be teammate Jackson, Pinson was also just named a 2014 McDonald's All-American nominee. He also recently took part in a big game against a fellow top recruit.

Corey Inscoe of the Charlotte Observer has the full story, but here are some takeaways from Inscoe's piece:

Pinson's coach, Keith Gatlin, describes him as "versatile."

He displayed his versatility earning runner-up MVP in the Under Armour Showcase.

Pinson poured in 36 points in a one-point, overtime loss.

Pinson spent a lot of time matched up against 5-star recruit Emmanuel Mudiay and played the entire game. He had the best all-around performance in the game.


Joel Berry

Make it 3-for-3 for UNC recruits being named to the McDonald's All-American nominee list. Five-star recruit Joel Berry received the same recognition as Jackson and Pinson. And he comes to UNC with similar pedigree.

Berry is graded out as a 94 and ranks as the No. 3 point guard prospect in the country according to ESPN. He has great power and strength to his game, even as a point guard. His advanced game was on full display in a recent contest against UCF recruit B.J. Taylor and Boone High School.

The game report comes from Buddy Collings at the Orlando Sentinel. According to Collings, Taylor was the game's showiest scorer, finishing with 36 points, but Berry led a better performance on his team's way to victory. His final stat line looked like this: 24 points, five rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

This is great news for a UNC team desperate for winning players. While Berry wasn't the top scorer in the game, he showcased all his abilities, and most importantly, his team won.

Whether North Carolina is able to bring in Rashad Vaughn or not, the 2014 class is already looking like a very promising group of young men who are primed to help the program right away.