The 2014 class is looking extremely strong for North Carolina so far and it’s still so early. Five star prospect Justin Jackson, verbally committed to Roy Williams on Monday earlier this week a day after he officially visited Chapel Hill. Jackson joined fellow five star recruit Joel Berry when he committed giving the Tar Heels much needed pieces at point guard and on the perimeter the year they enroll as freshman. With two big time players locked in for 2014, who does Roy look to next to round out that class?
My initial guess on this class is that Roy Williams is only planning to sign one more kid in the class. Planning, in this sense, is an operative word because as a coach of a program such as North Carolina, you never truly know which year will be a certain player’s last. There has been a ton of speculation about who on the Tar Heels’ roster is ready to make the jump to the NBA and the only player on that list, with any sort of gray area surrounding his name, is PJ Hairston. By the time the 2014 class arrives, Hairston would be a senior should he choose to stay. Hairston’s stock has risen over the last several weeks, but he has yet to crack the first round board in mock drafts so far this season. However, PJ is getting ready to play in the most high profile games of the season and will constantly have a chance to show scouts he’s ready for the next level on national TV over the next several weeks.
If Hairston goes pro, which is likely, any time before the 2014 season whether it’s after this season or next, Roy will more than likely have to find a back fill, but as it stands now, it looks like Roy isn’t going to make any assumptions. Regardless, Roy is going hard after one more wing player at least before reevaluating his needs. Several names have floated around the rumor board, but it doesn’t look like there is one clear front runner to take that last spot. Currently, the Tar Heels have offers out to Justise Winslow, Rashad Vaughn and Theo Pinson, all of which would be amazing additions. It’s unclear which one, if any, of these players would be open to committing to North Carolina, but the way things have been going, it’s highly possible that UNC is in good shape to get one of those three to commit.
Winslow, seemeingly is the least likely to commit of the three players I just mentioned. He is a close friend of Jackson’s, but Roy hasn’t had any activity around him since he offered him a scholarship on July 31, 2012. I’m sure that can be attributed to him taking advantage of the new NCAA rule where junior recruits can take official visits as soon as January 1 of their junior season and bringing in Berry and Jackson who were both further along with their process than Justise. Winslow would be great for the Heels if he indeed decided to come. He is a very athletic wing that can play multiple positions and is a good shooter. However, with Duke and Arizona hot on his trail, I don’t think Justise will commit when it’s all said and done.
That leaves Pinson and Vaughn. The fan base is pretty high on both players, but seem to be favoring Vaughn. Pinson is a local product out of Greensboro, NC, but has garnered his fair share of national attention on the recruiting front. Aside from UNC, Duke has expressed tons of interest in him and Pinson has taken several unofficial visits to both universities. One big wild card to get Pinson is Tom Creen and the Indiana Hoosiers. Creen has been pushing hard and had Pinson come out and visit in early February which has put his team in position to land the talented combo guard. I wouldn’t say the Tar Heels are out of the Pinson race at all, but they may be in third currently to win him over. With the amount of guards Roy has contacted, it seems that Pinson isn’t on the top of their list either.
The move that I think is most likely, is Rashad Vaughn. Vaughn seems to favor UNC and would hit their style like a glove. He is entertaining a ton of schools from all over and will unlikely make a decision anytime over the next few months. When Vaughn cut his list down to nine earlier on, UNC was on it, but was the only one that hadn’t formally made an offer. This proves that he is indeedvery interested in the program and now that he has the offer from Roy, it only makes sense that his interest has heightened. Vaughn is a pure shooter with 6-6 height and reminds me a lot of a taller, more athletic Wayne Ellington which should do nothing, but get UNC fans excited. Vaughn is taking an unofficial to UNC this weekend for the Duke game which is a great opportunity for the Heels to move up his list or perhaps, separate themselves.
I think Vaughn is the one guy that UNC will get of the guys that are offered, but any one of these players would be great additions. 2014 is looking stong for UNC, but spots are limited. Whoever wants the spot will need to move quickly. Justin Jackson verbally committed because he didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity so the next verbal in 2014 will almost certainly be similar.