UNC Basketball Recruiting: The 2016 Class Homegrown Star Potential


The state of North Carolina represents the college basketball mecca when you consider the powerhouses located there. The current national champion Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels are the top two basketball programs in the state. Moreover, they are arguably two of the top college basketball programs in the country.

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In recent years, some of the nation’s top basketball hail from North Carolina. John Wall (Raleigh), Chris Paul (Clemmons/Winston Salem) and Stephen Curry (Charlotte) are a few homegrown talents from the Tar Heel state. The high school class of 2016 has future stars in Dennis Smith, Jr. (Fayetteville), Harry Giles III (Winston-Salem/High Point), Edrice “Bam Bam” Adebayo (Pinetown) and Kwe Parker (Fayetteville).

In the 2016 ESPN 60, all four players are ranked in this list of the top 60 high school basketball players in the 2016 class. Giles ranks second overall (No. 1 ranked power forward). Smith ranks fourth overall (No. 1 ranked point guard). Adebayo ranks eighth overall (No. 2 power forward). Parker ranks 60th overall.

Wake Forest offered a scholarship to all four players. UNC and Wake Forest offered Giles, Smith and Adebayo. UNC, Wake Forest and Duke offered Giles and Smith. N.C. State, UNC and Wake Forest offered scholarships to Smith and Adebayo. There are other schools that desire these players as well. Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Florida State, Oklahoma, Florida, Virginia, Texas and VCU are several schools that want a piece of the action.

The importance of this state recruiting parallelogram (since it’s four schools not three schools which would denote a triangle) lies in the fact that all four schools want Dennis Smith, Jr. All four schools want his services. Smith is a rare point guard talent who plays above the rim yet remains a true point guard who also shoots well from the outside.

Giles is the prototypical “stretch four” who can run the floor well and shoot from the perimeter. However, do not pigeonhole this young man as a perimeter player. His athletic ability allows him to play above rim. Giles has great footwork for a young player. Right now, he does not have a set position because he can play three positions at a high level.

Adebayo is a banger down low. He is agile for his size; however, he does not play on the perimeter as much as the other players on this list. Adebayo is a power forward, nothing more, nothing less yet he is very good as a traditional four.

Parker is an undersized shooting guard whose athleticism is very high. He slashes more than shooting from the outside. He is not a shooter per se, though his position is shooting guard. It is safe to say that he is small forward in a point guard’s body because his toughness and skill level supersede his body frame.

It is possible that all of these players could choose to attend the same school. If all four players choose Wake Forest, they will be the 2016 version of the 1990s Fab Five. Dub them the “Fantastic Four” because they would be an explosive unit. All of them would be in-state recruits which would make their collective choice special on more than one level.

There are several combinations of two or three of these players who could attend UNC, Duke or Wake Forest. After watching Duke’s freshman foursome (Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Grayson Allen) lead them to a national championship a few months ago, expect more freshmen to desire to have a similar impact. Players choose schools that will give them more exposure to NBA executives and a better chance of winning a national championship. The more they play, the higher the likelihood of this two things happening.

North Carolina Tar Heels
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North Carolina Tar Heels

Another interesting thing about Duke’s freshmen is the friendship between Jones and Okafor. They have been friends since elementary school and both players planned to attend the same school. A bond exists between some of these four future stars. Smith and Parker played a few seasons together at Trinity Christian Academy as a starting backcourt. Currently, Parker attends the same high school at Giles in High Point where they were teammates this past season. Being teammates enhances trust and level of comfort on the basketball court. Also, Several of these players have played AAU basketball together, so all four of them are aware of each other’s skills in some way. Does this mean that Smith, Parker and Giles will attend the same school? Possibly, but no one is sure for now.

This 2016 could have a lasting impact on one or more schools. The top choices are Smith and Giles, but Adebayo and Parker are far from chopped liver. All four players can hold their own and have significant roles on any team they choose.

Several things will impact these players decisions. Playing time and spots left on the roster are issues for Duke, UNC, Wake Forest and N.C. State. In regards to UNC, the recent news of the NCAA sending allegations to the University may impact any one of these players choosing UNC. Whereas recent Duke commit Brandon Ingram choose Duke over Carolina due to the allegations, incoming freshman guard Kenny Williams chose UNC despite this. Duke, UNC and Wake Forest have four spots open in 2016, whereas N.C. State has five spots open.

Another wild card in UNC’s recruitment of the “Fantastic Four” is their pursuit of South Carolina’s Seventh Woods. Woods cut his list of schools down to UNC and South Carolina. He is a 6’0″ undersized shooting guard who is ranked No. 39 on the 2016 ESPN 60. A couple of years ago, this young man posterized a high school opponent and the video was shown during a UNC basketball game. His choice will impact who chooses UNC, also.

One thing for sure is this — The four of these young men will play a role in the success of their school on the basketball court and the school’s future recruitment. UNC had great recruiting classes in the 1990s and it carried over into the following decade. Although the chapter is not closed for the 2013 class (Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Joel James), their graduation will usher in a new class of Tar Heels, hopefully a strong one consisting of several of the ESPN’s top 60 players of 2016.

UNC needs a new signature class to carry the team and the program into the back half of this decade, and one or two or all of these players could be a big part of that class.