Merry Christmas Tar Heel fans! The past week for UNC recruiting has been slower but the weekend before Christmas was a big one! Visits were made, as well as an offer and two major tournaments were held. First UNC watched in on SG Rashad Vaughn score 51 in a loss last week. Vaughn is very similar to Wayne Ellington matching his shooting ability to athleticism. Also in the 2015 class UNC offered number two overall PF Ivan Rabb and are expecting to visit 2015 SG Malachi Richardson. The Chic-fil-A classic in Columbia South Carolina as well as the City of Palms in Orlando Florida. Each tournament featured big headline players with NC stars Isaiah Hicks, Isaac Copeland and Theo Pinson playing in Columbia and UNC hopefuls Andrew Wiggins, Justin Jackson, and Jahlil Okafor playing in Orlando.
There was a lot of scrutiny leading up to the tournament especially after a devastating loss to Texas a week ago. Roy Williams went to Columbia rather than Orlando to see Andrew Wiggins the most popular recruit since Harrison Barnes. No fear though. Assistant coach C. B. McGrath was in attendance to see the number one recruit in action. Fans that worry that Roy was not in attendance need to stop! Roy told Huntington Prep coach Robert Fulford that UNC would be in attendance at City of Palms the 20th, and someone was. Even if it was not Roy, one must remember that it is at least two the three days of travel to Orlando compared to a one to two days of travel to South Carolina and the Heels had a home game the 22nd. It makes more sense for the head coach to be closer on the eve of a game.
In Columbia Hicks, Pinson, and Copeland stole the show. Hicks has continued to show that he is the real deal and will be a major threat for the Tar Heels. Hicks is able to get a double double with ease and dominate both inside and outside the paint. Hell he is playing a two at 6’8! His athleticism in unparallelled by his peers. After the commitment of Jabari Parker to Duke, the possible match up between Hicks and Parker is intriguing. While not number one like Wiggins, Hicks is severely underrated and at the same height as Parker he is just as athletic. Both players are at 6’8 and can play big with a guard skill set. I am just as excited to see Hicks take on Parker rather than Wiggins vs Parker. Also in Columbia Theo Pinson also showed that he is a force. At 6’5 Pinson is a hybrid 2 and 3 player. Pinson is able to go up and dunk or force contact in the paint and is able to dish the ball and shoot. Pinson would be a great asset to the Tar Heels but his status is undetermined having offers from all three triangle schools. Expect him to stay in that vicinity but which one is a mystery. Last Isaac Copeland is continuing to play above his current ranking. Like Hicks, Copeland is also 6’8 and is super athletic. Copeland can run the floor excellently, and can get to the basket like a guard. It is always fun to see how Copeland will finish, like Dexter Strickland he can lay it in easy or finish with a slam. The versatility he has impresses me, while Georgetown and Florida State are rumored favorites, watch better teams like UNC get involved and his stock will rise.
While Roy had a lot of excitement in Columbia, McGrath had a more star studded cast and lots of good basketball. Right of the bat, Andrew Wiggins’ Huntington Prep took on Justin Jackson’s HYCA. Huntington Prep had more talent overall and took the game 77-50 where Andrew Wiggins led all scores with 31 points. We all know Wiggins is the future and excels in rebounding and scoring UNC needs him end of story. His recruitment is tight but UNC is in contention. On the losing end, Justin Jackson trademarked his floater. Like Antwan Jamison (not as tall), Jackson plays big and gets to the basket as quick as anyone and puts up unorthodox looking shots that go in. With a sweet jump shot along with his quick steps to the basket I like Jackson as a good conservative possibility to the team. Last big performance player was Jahlil Okafor. Jahlil led Whitney Young to a successful tournament losing only to the eventual champs Montverde in OT. Jahlil went 16 and 13 against number one center in 2013 Dakari Johnson. Okafor is showing that he deserves to be ranked number two in the class and can also be number one. Okafor draws comparisons to big men like Tim Duncan for his smooth touch and mobility in the paint. Jahlil said he hears the most from UNC but also wants to get down to schools like Kansas and Kentucky for visits. Also a no show in the City of Palms was star PG Joel Berry. Berrys Lake Highland team played without him while he is sidelined with his torn meniscus. Berry is said to be reinstated January 4th, he visits UNC the 19th.