UNC Basketball Recruiting: Tar Heels 2012 Class Elite


With point guard Marcus Paige rated as the number one PG in the nations 2012 class.  Along with four star small forward JP Tokoto, power forward Brice Johnson and center Joel James this class is top notch.  You can’t do much better really.  The best PG and top tier players at SF, PF and C.  Perfectly class versatility, excellent recruiting execution by Roy Williams.  Although Roy does receive a lot of credit for his recruiting talents.  Personally, I still don’t think he gets his due.  A class like this isn’t a spectacular one for Roy, it’s routine, in my opinion, everybody’s so used to this, the man doesn’t get the credit he deserves all the time.

As great as it is already, this class could be getting even better.  With the sudden reclassification of the previously #1 rated recruit of the 2013 class.  Center Nerlens Noel will graduate this year and has reclassified himself apart of the 2012 class.  With an already stacked class the Heels are giving chase to 2012’s new #1 recruit.  Noel is considering UNC, Syracuse, UConn, Providence, Florida, Georgetown, Kentucky.  Carolina is said to be giving a hard chase so don’t be surprised if Noel ends up in Chapel Hill.

Before we dive into the current recruits committed to Chapel Hill let’s have a day dream together shall we?  Noel who is an absolute monster, an almost sure thing one and done, come in and kill the NCAA type of player commits.  John Henson receives feedback that he’s a mid to late first rounder due to his unfinished frame and bad foul shooting and returns for his senior year.  James Michael McAdoo finishes strong his freshman year but is still not close to pro ready and stays put.  Brice Johnson and Joel James keep their word and enroll at UNC.  Henson, McAdoo, Noel, Johnson, James, Desmond Hubert.  WOW, five big time, high quality big men and a nice developmental one.

Take it further and imagine Kendall Marshall stays which I think he will and he pairs with Marcus Paige in a Chris Paul/Chauncey Billups type pairing.  To get even more crazy Harrison Barnes stays put for his junior year.  Unstoppable isn’t even a powerful enough word to describe the machine that team would be.   Marshall/Paige/Dexter Strickland at the point.  Reggie Bullock/PJ Hairston/Strickland at the two guard.  Harrison Barnes/Tokoto at SF.  I’m not sure that would work with scholarships but wow that would be spectacular wouldn’t it?  Upcoming on Keeping It Heel, staff writer Ben Williams and I will debate the Noel situation in depth.

It’s time to look at the recruits!

Marcus Paige: PG 6-0, 155 lbs, from Marion, IA Linn-Mar High School.  Paige to me signifies how sometimes recruiting ranking make no sense.  As the top HS PG in the nation right now not a five star player?  While this is not an extremely strong PG class, 2012 has some good points coming into college basketball next season.  Paige sits a top that mountain yet he only gets four stars?  After an extremely strong senior season in which Paige developed into a better passer and floor general, while also improving his jump shot makes the case even more puzzling.  Paige is a stud, another left handed point he isn’t the passer Kendall Marshall is but he’s 10 times the scorer and shooter.  Excellent in transition, Paige is a fantastic creator on the offensive end and is learning how to spread the ball around better.  Marcus can catch and shoot and is superb at creating enough room to get off a good shot whenever he wants.  I’m extremely high on Paige and although this may be a reach I think he can be better than even Marshall for UNC.  Teams can play off Kendall and know he’s either not going to take the shot or miss it if he gets the ball.  Paige comes in with a little more quickness, top level ball handling, and teams will have to respect him as a scorer in the half court.

JP Tokoto: SF 6-5, 180 lbs, from Menomonee Falls, WI Menomonee Falls High School Tokoto recently broke the scoring record at Men. Falls HS breaking a long standing record at one of WI top HS basketball programs.  Tokoto was the first to commit to Roy Williams and North Carolina, committing early his junior year.  JP was also one of the first of Roy’s 2012 targets, and for good reason.  The 6-5 SF has tremendous athleticism, runs the floor well and executes the half court with a lot of maturity.  Tokoto has an excellent jump shot, three point range and can create off the dribble.  An unselfish player he’s also become an excellent passer and prides himself in setting up his teammates.  Tokoto seems perfect for the high tempo offense Carolina runs, and his shooting touch should help get him on the floor early.

Brice Johnson: PF 6-9, 200 lbs, from Cordova, SC, Edisto High SchoolJohnson’s #15 position rank and #49 national ranking has more to do with a strong group of PFs in the 2012 class.  Johnson a four star recruit with a ton of athleticism.  He has a skinny frame and reminds me a lot of John Henson coming in.  He needs to put on some muscle to be effective in the post and may take some development before he can be counted on for major minutes.  But again, like Henson, his upside is tremendous.  Here’s what Roy Williams had to say about him.

"“Brice has tremendous upside as a player,” Williams said. “He’s just now starting to realize what he can do on the basketball court. He blocks shots, is effective around the basket and is going to be a big-time athlete for us.”"

Joel James: C 6-10, 280 lbs, from Riviera Beach, FL Dywer High School.  James is a monster on the defensive end and is a gifted rebounder.  With a huge frame, James may need to get into a little better shape to keep up with the Tar Heels high paced offense.  Brice Johnson reminds me of John Henson the freshman with his skinny frame.  James reminds me of Henson the sophomore, Henson was a premier defender and rebounder that struggled on the offensive end.  Here’s what Roy had to say about Joel.

"“Joel is an incredible story,” Williams said. “He is one of 11 kids and he decided on his own to do a great job in the classroom and on the basketball court. I know he will help us rebound the ball, block shots and improve his game on the offensive end.”"

This group of four versatile, highly talented four star rated recruits is seen by many as the next foundation class for UNC.  With Tyler Zeller graduating and players like John Henson and Harrison Barnes likely for the NBA.  The 2012 class will has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact if Barnes, Henson and especially PG Kendall Marshall opt to go pro.

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