Palm Beach Dwyer High School’s Joel James, the county’s biggest (literally) hardwood prospect in years, committed to the University of North Carolina on Sunday.
The 6’10", 270-pound southpaw had scholarship offers from several big-time schools, but in the end the Tar Heels were able to lure the beefy center to Chapel Hill. He picked the ACC powerhouse over the Florida State Seminoles, and once Carolina finally offered the space eater last week, all signs pointed at him landing on Tobacco Road.
After feeling that they are going to lose recruiting battles for top 10 prospects Kaleb Tarczewski and Mitch McGary, the UNC coaching staff settled for James, which could prove to pay dividends in the long run. The behemoth is as raw a prospect as they come, only playing organized basketball since he was a sophomore. He averaged a mere seven points and five rebounds for Dwyer High School last year, but don’t let those statistics fool you. The Panthers were absolutely loaded, winning a Florida 4A state championship while being ranked as the eighth-best basketball team in the entire nation. He is a top-60 national prospect with a high ceiling due to how new he is to the game.
The improving center also considered scholarship offers from Clemson, Miami, South Carolina, Central Florida and Massachusetts. He joins likely McDonald’s All-American point guard Marcus Paige and small forward jumping jack J.P. Tokoto in the Heels' 2012 class.
Once on campus and working with such a talented coaching staff, look for James to improve in every facet of the game. Don’t be surprised if when all is said and done, he doesn't turn out to be a Brendan Haywood-type performer in the Atlantic Coast Conference, using his size to change games with his rebounding and shot-blocking, while also scoring on plenty of high percentage shots in the paint.