Tar Heels still looking to add to 2018 recruiting class
The North Carolina Tar Heels missed out on a pair of five-star prospects in E.J. Montgomery and Ashton Hagans when both players committed to the Kentucky Wildcats earlier this week.
Montgomery and Hagans, whose commitments to Kentucky came just a day apart, are players who Roy Williams and the UNC coaching staff felt could come in and make an immediate impact on the team.
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Montgomery, a 6-foot-11, 200-pound power forward, committed to the Wildcats late Sunday night after an in-home visit with head coach John Calipari. Hagans, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound point guard, followed suit on Tuesday morning. Hagans is currently a member of the class of 2019, but plans to reclassify and move up a year in order to play for the Wildcats in the fall.
Montgomery would have gotten minutes in North Carolina’s young and inexperienced front court, while Hagans could have helped the Tar Heels’ thin back court that said goodbye to seniors Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson.
Alas, the two top-25 prospects made the same decision as Kevin Knox, P.J. Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt, each of which chose Kentucky over North Carolina last year.
External options at the point guard position seem to be completely exhausted at this juncture, but Roy Williams is still hoping to snag one more big man in the class of 2018. That big man is Jordan Brown, a 6-foot-10, 195-pound power forward out of Prolific Prep in Napa, California.
Brown has been linked to North Carolina a lot in recent weeks, suggesting that Williams may have been expecting Montgomery to commit elsewhere. Or maybe Williams was just hedging his bets. Either way, Brown is the highest-ranked uncommitted front court player left on the board in the 2018 class.
Brown has long been considered a favorite to land at a West Coast school, with teams like Arizona Cal, and Stanford leading the way in his recruitment. He has taken official visits to Cal, Louisiana-Lafayette, St. John’s and UCLA, while receiving interest from Gonzaga, Louisville, Nevada, North Carolina and Oregon.
As of late, it appears that he’s likely headed to a Pac-12 school, and the rest of his suitors are on the outside looking in. North Carolina has made a late push, though, and has some believing that Roy Williams and company could complete a last-minute heist.
So what’s the most likely landing spot for Brown?
Cal is working hard to hold on to Brown, and losing the in-state talent at this point would be a huge blow to the Golden Bears. And according to a recent interview with FloHoops, UCLA is all but out of the equation.
Brown could go a number of directions with his final official visit. A trip to Arizona or North Carolina is plausible, and it stands to reason that the school receiving the final visit has a better chance than the one who doesn’t.
Given his reluctance to commit early, stating that he would wait until late April or early May to decide, Brown is clearly weighing all of his options. That may be a positive sign for a team like North Carolina that entered his recruitment so late in the process.
Considering the inexperience and uncertainty in the UNC front court, Roy Williams has a substantial amount of minutes to offer Brown in his freshman campaign. The Tar Heels’ returning seniors and incoming freshman class suggest that it’s a team that’s built to win a lot of games next season. Add in two games against Duke, a tournament in Las Vegas, the ACC/Big 10 Challenge and a slew of nationally televised games, and UNC could become a pretty enticing option for Brown.
Tar Heels’ chance to sign Brown: 33%
Stick with Keeping It Heel for more on the Tar Heels’ recruitment of Brown as we move deeper into college basketball’s late signing period.