The 2014-15 UNC recruiting class has a buzz around it that has been missing in recent years. Joel Berry, Theo Pinson, and Justin Jackson have put a spark in the Tar Heel fan base giving us aspirations for the 2015 Final Four and beyond. All three are talented enough to justify a spot in the starting line-up, but we’ll see how the rotation shakes out when the season tips off. All we can do now is predict, speculate, and over-analyze everything about these three before we see what they are capable of in Carolina blue.
I am going to give my comparison of each player to a UNC Basketball alum. We’ll start with our newest floor general, Joel Berry II.
Comparison: Ty Lawson
Berry was the easiest one to compare of the three to a player from the past. He is very comparable to Lawson as far as size and style of play goes. I would say Lawson is a bit quicker than Berry, which, shouldn’t be something to be concerned about. Remember this?
Anyway, it should be fun to watch Berry grow under Coach Williams’ system. He’s going to have plenty of weapons around him running the floor. Everything that I’ve seen and heard about the kid is that he should see some extended time on the floor early in his UNC tenure. It’s not easy for a point guard under Roy Williams, but he’ll definitely be competing for a spot in the starting five.
Theo Pinson – Skinnier version of Jerry Stackhouse
Admittedly Pinson and Justin Jackson weren’t as easy to peg one UNC guy as a comparison. I see more of a Jamal Crawford type game in Pinson, but as far as UNC lore goes, I’ll give it to Stackhouse. Ultra-athletic and finishes well at the basket. Stackhouse had a much better outside shot than Pinson currently, which is where the comparison becomes harder to see. I like how aggressive Pinson is with the ball in his hands and his playmaking ability. I hope to see him out on the break having a contest with J.P. Tokoto for best dunks next season while he develops that jumper.
Jackson was the most difficult player to compare of the three for me. He’s not a very physical player and will need to put some weight on his frame. He’s got the same build as a guy like Reggie Miller or Tayshaun Prince. His game is very complete on the offensive end. He can knock down the mid-range jumper and has a nice floater. It’s an old school feel to his game like Forte when he arrived at UNC. Ellington and Green were both smart players that could knock down an open shot off a kick. I don’t know that Jackson has Green or Ellington’s range just yet, but it could develop into a real asset to his game. He won’t make you jump out of your chair with earth-shattering dunks, but when the game is over you’ll say “He had 25 tonight?”
While I believe there are some strong comparisons to former Tar Heel men’s basketball players, I think these guys bring enough individuality to their games that they’ll make their own legacy. Pinson and Jackson have a unique style of play that I don’t think we’ve truly seen before as Tar Heel fans. As close to Ty Lawson that Joel Berry is, I think he’s different enough to not be locked to that comparison during his UNC career.
Was it close? Way off? What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below if you agree or disagree with my comparisons. “Late Night with Roy Williams” can’t come soon enough!