Brandon Ingram’s decision affects more than in-state rivalry


North Carolina is being held to the highest standard, but yet doesn’t have Brandon Ingram, a blue chip recruit they thought they would going into next season.

After 5 years of recruiting and months of intense anticipation and speculation, Brandon Ingram declared he would be a Blue Devil Wednesday, March 28th.

Ingram shared with UNC beat writer Andrew Carter that North Carolina – despite all the connections and ties that could have led him to Chapel Hill – was not a safe enough option for him because of the notice of allegations the university had yet to receive.

"“We wanted to see something on paper,” Donald Ingram said. “We wanted to hear it on television. We wanted to know that they’re not going to fall into the same situation like Jim Boeheim with Syracuse. So you don’t want to go into a (situation) that’s already hot. And it played a factor in it.”"

Ingram’s decision to go to Duke ultimately has three takeaways which go beyond intensifying the battle of the blues.

1) Has Duke surpassed UNC as the most desired school to attend as a basketball player in North Carolina?

Duke has always put together a talented team on the court, and the fact that they have won two national championships in six years reflect that.  But for whatever reason, North Carolina consistently seemed to have the edge in recruiting, especially from the home-grown athletes.

And it all seemed like North Carolina’s diligent efforts to recruit another home-grown star were going pay off again in November of 2014, per the Charlotte Observer (published 3/12/15).

"Ingram said he “probably” would have committed to North Carolina in November if the Tar Heels were not involved in a far-reaching academic scandal."

Hearing of Ingram’s doubts, Duke capitalized on the opportunity to snag Derryck Thornton, 5-star prospect point guard, a key that was reported as making a big impact on Ingram’s decision (according to

"“It impacts [my decision] a lot,” Ingram recently told ESPNU of Thornton’s pledge. “That was one of my main concerns coming in looking at the particular schools, so it impacts it a lot.”"

So is this a trend that may continue in the future, or did Duke just capitalize on a situation that North Carolina got itself into long ago?  While North Carolina fans are still optimistic about this upcoming basketball season, as they are still a top-5 program favored to finish amongst the best teams in the ACC, these recruiting allegations may cause significant damage to the program’s ability to recruit, even once the entire scandal clears.

But Ingram going to Duke is hardly the end-all-be-all of Tar Heel basketball.

2) Coach K is channeling his inner Calipari; college basketball is evolving.

“One and done” players are simply part of college basketball now.  In order to put the best team on the floor, coaches must recruit the best players, and often times the most talented players are not interested in staying at any given school for more than one year.

Justice Winslow, Tyus Jones, and Jahlil Okafor have all declared for the NBA draft after just a year’s stay at Duke.  Before that, Jabari Parker was only a Blue Devil for a year.  And this method of recruiting talented players that will only stay for one year is found everywhere in college basketball – including in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina Tar Heels /

North Carolina Tar Heels

The fact of the matter is, when revered coaches, like Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams, start to change their traditional values and go after some of these players that don’t have the desire to stay in college, you realize that the game is evolving.  Top-level college basketball is beginning to transform into a minor league system for the NBA, where it is now plausible for programs to recruit a kid while they are in middle school in the hopes that he would decide to play at their university for one year.

Above all else, this transformation is alarming to fans, coaches, and programs, as it may lead to the demise of college basketball as we currently know it.

3)  North Carolina will have plenty to prove…AGAIN. 

With Ingram in the lineup, the Heels would most likely have obtained the preseason #1 ranking.

Now, all the Heels have is the hope that the team from last year has matured and developed.  On paper last year, North Carolina could have competed with any team in the country.  However, Paige’s inconsistency (mainly due to his plantar fasciitis that was plaguing him all year) and a lack of perimeter scoring in general made the Heels one-dimensional and easy to guard in the half-court.

As for now, North Carolina is being held to the highest standard by their fans, but yet doesn’t have the blue chip they thought they would going into the 2015-2016 season.

If one things for certain, defeating Duke this upcoming year will certainly be at the top of a list, along with already many lofty goals and expectations.