UNC Recruiting: Tar Heels’ sights set on new five-star target

Tar Heels look to add five-star power forward in 2018

It goes without saying that North Carolina head coach Roy Williams is pretty set in his ways. And after a wildly successful career that spans over three decades, why wouldn’t he be?

Perhaps it’s the 842 career victories and twelve 30-win seasons that keep him so confident in his methods. Could it be the nine Final Four appearances and three national championship titles that keep him unwavering in his approach? Or maybe it’s the fact that he learned almost everything he knows about the game of basketball from his legendary mentor, Dean Smith.

Williams doesn’t care what the media or fans think about his style of coaching. He’s not affected by what’s written about him in this article or the next. And he’s not about to call a timeout just because you think he should.

Despite his steady hand at the helm, though, even a Hall-of-Fame coach of his caliber is forced to adapt in ways that are less than desirable from time to time.

For Williams, that’s starting freshman point guards and putting small lineups out on the court.

Luckily, he hasn’t had to do the former since 2012 when Marcus Paige started as a freshman in the wake of the unexpected departure of All-American point guard Kendall Marshall. “Small ball”, though, is one that he had to tinker with a lot last season.

After saying goodbye to players like Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Tony Bradley, Williams was forced to start raw, inexperienced big men, or utilize a smaller, quicker lineup predicated upon good perimeter play.

And it wasn’t a complete disaster for the Tar Heels, winning 26 games and beating Duke twice in 2018. Their lack of size and reliance on the jump shot was, however, their undoing.

Williams would like to avoid that type of roster deficiency in the future, which is evident by his work on the recruiting trail in recent months.

He’s prioritized a number of elite front court players including class of 2018 prospects Zion Williamson, Simisola Shittu and E.J. Montgomery. He’s also gone hard after 2019 prospects Vernon Carey, Matthew Hurt, Will Baker and Armando Bacot.

And although Williams has missed on a number of the aforementioned players, he’s continued recruiting bigs with as much tenacity and enthusiasm as ever.

Adam Zagoria reported on Monday night that Williams had recently contacted class of 2018 prospect Jordan Brown. Brown’s father, Dion, confirmed that North Carolina had reached out, as well as new Louisville head coach Chris Mack.

Brown is a 6-foot-11, 195-pound power forward out of Napa, California that plays for Prolific Prep. As a senior, he helped guide Prolific Prep to a 27-8 record and the semifinals of the Grind Session High School World Championship. Brown also put on an impressive performance at the 2018 McDonald’s All-American Game, recording 26 points and eight rebounds in the West’s 131-128 victory over the East.

The talented five-star big man is ranked No. 16 in the nation according to the 247Sports Composite. He’s considered a top-5 player at his position and the No. 1 prospect in the state of California.

Brown would be an impact player for the Tar Heels from day one, given the lack of experienced depth in the UNC front court. And it would be a huge get for Williams, given how late he and the Tar Heels entered Brown’s recruitment.

Brown is currently holding offers from Arizona, Cal, Gonzaga, Kansas, Oregon and UCLA among others. And although there isn’t a strong indication at this point where he’ll end up, early predictions put Brown at a Pac-12 school next fall.

He’s also stated that he’s still open to hearing from the Kentucky Wildcats. Last summer at the Team USA U19 tryouts, Brown was briefly coached by John Calipari before being cut from the team. Although Calipari was reportedly impressed by Brown’s play, there’s been no interest shown from either party in the months since. Regardless, Kentucky is always a major player in the recruitment of five-star prospects and something to keep an eye on as the situation unfolds in the coming months.

Stick with Keeping It Heel for updates on Brown’s recruitment as the Tar Heels look to bolster their young front court in 2018.