For those of you who didn’t see the game last night, it gave us a great opportunity to see two commits play in a nationally televised setting against high level competition. The game I’m of course referring to is the game featuring E1T1 (Each 1 Teach 1) and Houston Hoops or, as most of us saw it, Joel Berry vs Justin Jackson. The game result was in favor of E1T1 and Joel Berry as they won the game 70-64, but both Tar Heels impressed on the national stage.
Justin Jackson had the hot hand early and scored 8 points in the first quarter on the way to an 18 point outing. Jackson didn’t shoot a ton of long range shots and mostly operated around the basket up to about 10 feet. We all got to witness his patented floater on multiple occasions and saw a few of them drop in for two. That shot of his is close to impossible to defend and if it remains consistent, it’ll will be a huge weapon for Roy Williams to utilize in the future. Jackson also showed great hustle and was involved in several fast break plays and second chance point opportunities. I’ve always known Jackson to not be a huge leaper or dunker, but he had a few that he threw down with authority last night including one off a Justise Winslow miss. Jackson certainly proved that he is a complete offensive weapon and I think showed that he is a lot stronger than he looks. Carolina fans will certainly love the way he plays in the Tar Heel uniform.
Joel Berry looked equally impressive last night. He logged 14 points hitting shots from outside, in transition and around the basket in the half court. He’s drawn tons of hype from Tar Heel fans ever since he committed and he has certainly lived up to it so far. Berry changes speed better than any Carolina point guard in recent memory with the exception of Ty Lawson. He’s as quick as he is fast and a threat from all over the floor. His vision was also on full display last night as he picked up several assists by hitting teammates after the Houston defense collapsed on him. However, what impressed me most about Berry last night was his court awareness on defense. He was active on the ball and anticipated passes the led to steals and breakaway on multiple occasions. His activity on defense is exactly what Roy loves in his players and it will certainly garner Berry minutes once he arrives to Chapel Hill. I’ve seen a lot of great Tar Heel point guards and Berry showed me that he will be no different. He is a winner and a great team player. It’s hard to imagine any PG in the Class of 2014 that is better or more talented than Joel Berry.
If you have the opportunity to watch the game on replay, I highly recommend it. It was a great way for Carolina fans to take a glimpse into the future and see first hand how talented these committed players are. I can only hope that we will have more opportunity to watch them play over the course of the summer and next year.