UNC Basketball Recruiting: Sales Pitches for Top 2015 Targets
UNC basketball recruiting focuses on such ultra-elite prospects that even the winning tradition of Michael Jordan’s alma mater isn’t enough to seal the deal. Roy Williams is one of the country’s most accomplished salesmen when it comes to attracting NBA-bound talent, but even he needs to work hard to bring in the kinds of stars who keep the Tar Heels at the top of the national rankings.
In the class of 2015, that means landing players such as shooting guard Malik Newman, the No. 1 uncommitted prospect in the country, according to Rivals.com. Williams has an edge on many of his coaching rivals in this race because his celebrated fast-break offense is an unbeatable setting to show off the Mississippi native’s scoring ability.
Read on for more arguments in favor of Newman becoming a Tar Heel, along with potential approaches for Williams to take as he woos UNC’s most prominent 2015 target at each position on the floor.
Point Guard: P.J. Dozier
Point guard is generally the easiest position for Roy Williams to recruit, as his emphasis on transition offense tends to dovetail with both the skills and preferences of top high school stars.
However, the class of 2015 presents a special problem because the Tar Heels will have at least two top-notch floor generals—Nate Britt and Joel Berry—on the roster, even assuming that Marcus Paige skips his senior season.
Fortunately for P.J. Dozier, his 6’6”, 185-pound frame makes him more than capable of sliding over to the 2-guard position to earn playing time quickly.
His basketball IQ is his greatest asset, but he definitely has the scoring punch to share the backcourt with Britt or Berry while honing his playmaking skills for the starting job.
Shooting Guard: Malik Newman
Malik Newman is capable of becoming North Carolina’s best scoring guard since Vince Carter. He’s also too small (at 6’3”) to expect those skills to translate into a big-time NBA career unless he adds some point guard potential to his resume.
Roy Williams, meanwhile, has as good a track record of developing floor leaders as any coach in the college ranks, with Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton among his top success stories.
Williams' high-speed offense will make sure Newman’s scoring average is among the ACC’s best, even as the youngster develops the decision-making skills he’ll need to impress pro scouts.
Small Forward: Brandon Ingram
Considering that Brandon Ingram plays on an AAU team coached by Jerry Stackhouse, it’s safe to say that the North Carolina native is well-versed in Tar Heels lore.
He also has ample potential to make his own contributions to UNC history, particularly because his mobile 6’8” frame will let him make plays in the paint or on the perimeter at the college level.
As James Michael McAdoo has just finished demonstrating, there’s plenty of room in UNC’s offense for a combo forward who can score.
Ingram could fill a similar role in a small lineup for the Tar Heels, or he could play as a true wing in a bigger set, especially if Justin Jackson or Theo Pinson jumps to the NBA before he arrives.
Power Forward: Ivan Rabb
With the possible exception of LSU commit Ben Simmons, there isn’t a more obvious one-and-done prospect in the 2015 class than Ivan Rabb.
The 6’11” power forward has NBA athletic ability, polished scoring moves in the post and terrific defensive instincts.
That being the case, he’ll want to join a team where he can compete for a championship immediately—say, a Tar Heels squad that will return at least two experienced point guards and (almost certainly) at least one of the wing-scoring duo of Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson.
Just as importantly, UNC (unlike other contenders such as Kentucky) doesn’t have anybody among its potential returning big men with anything like Rabb’s potential. As such, he won’t have to fight for minutes or touches inside.
Center: Diamond Stone
A year ago, it would have been a lot tougher to argue that Diamond Stone could be a success at North Carolina.
After all, the transition-heavy Tar Heels offense seems like a poor fit for a hulking 6’10”, 250-pound center who’s far more effective in the half court.
However, the strong freshman season turned in by 6’9”, 290-pound Kennedy Meeks provides ample evidence that wide-bodied big men can succeed quite nicely in Chapel Hill.
Stone is a more skilled offensive player than Meeks, and his ability to overwhelm smaller opponents would assure him of a starting spot regardless of how many underclassmen return to UNC’s roster.