UNC Basketball: Tar Heels’ odds at a Precious Achiuwa commitment?

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18: Precious Achiuwa #15 of Team Ramsey watches warm up before the game against Team Stanley during the SLAM Summer Classic 2018 at Dyckman Park on August 18, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18: Precious Achiuwa #15 of Team Ramsey watches warm up before the game against Team Stanley during the SLAM Summer Classic 2018 at Dyckman Park on August 18, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The UNC basketball program is hoping for one final commitment from the class of 2019 when 5-star small forward Precious Achiuwa makes his announcement this weekend

5-star small forward Precious Achiuwa is one of the few remaining uncommitted prospects in the class of 2019, and he plans to bring his recruitment to a close within the week.

According to an announcement that Achiuwa made via his personal Instagram account on Monday, the senior wing from Montverde, Florida plans to finalize his college decision this weekend. That decision is expected to come some time on Saturday.

The 6-foot-9, 215-pound Achiuwa is holding scholarship offers from at least 20 schools, but his focus, at this point, is assumed to be trained on just three; Kansas, Memphis and North Carolina.

Each of the three schools has its merits as it relates to Achiuwa and a potential commitment to the program — a commitment that could easily last just one year before a jump from the college ranks to the NBA in 2020.

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Kansas lost much of its roster from a season ago — Dedric and K.J. Lawson, Lagerald Vick and Charlie Moore, as well as the uncertainty surrounding suspended forward Silvio De Sousa — and depending on the decisions of would-be sophomore guards Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson, could stand to lose a lot more.

Even with returners Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett and David McCormack in the fold — and a possible commitment from recently reclassified and uber-talented guard R.J. Hampton — that leaves some holes in the Jayhawks’ roster, and available minutes for a player as talented as Achiuwa.

Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers have pulled off one of the greatest recruiting capers in college basketball history. Coming from relative obscurity in recent years — most of the ones since John Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky — Hardaway got commitments from the No. 1 prospect in the class, James Wiseman, as well as five 4-star players including former Duke commit Boogie Ellis. He also earned the commitment of highly regarded graduate transfer Rayjon Tucker, a 6-foot-5-inch guard that scored better than 20 points per game as a junior at Little Rock.

And while that’s all great news for the Tigers, it does give a guy like Achiuwa — who could be planning a short stay on campus — cause for concern when it comes to sharing minutes with a number of other talented players. It’s also possible, though doubtful in my mind, that he could be fighting for a starting position when the season rolls around in November. These are important factors to consider in Achiuwa’s recruitment.

For North Carolina, it’s much the same. The Tar Heels got commitments from the top point guard in the 2019 class, Cole Anthony, as well as 5-star center Armando Bacot, 4-star guard Anthony Harris and talented but oft-hurt point guard Jeremiah Francis. They’ve also gotten pledges from two of the more sought after graduate transfers on the market this spring in William and Mary guard Justin Pierce and Charleston Southern’s Christian Keeling.

There’s also the issue of available scholarships at North Carolina; the issue being that the Tar Heels don’t have any. It’s plausible, though, to assume that junior forward Shea Rush could give up his scholarship if Achiuwa commits to North Carolina in the eleventh hour (Rush was awarded a scholarship in 2017 when the Tar Heels were light on scholarship players thanks to multiple misses on the recruiting trail).

A bevy of talented and experienced players in Chapel Hill could create a Memphis-like log jam in the starting lineup, and a fight for minutes throughout the season. Is that something that Achiuwa is willing to overlook while banking on his ability to not only crack the starting lineup, but get the minutes he desires at the collegiate level?

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So where is Achiuwa most likely to go?

Lately, all of the buzz surrounding his recruitment has gone to Kansas and Memphis, with the Jayhawks seemingly picking up a lot of momentum in recent weeks. That’s thanks, in part, to their miss on Rayjon Tucker, who ultimately chose a spot on Hardaway’s star-heavy roster over Lawrence, Kansas. Rivals recruiting analyst Corey Evans believes that Achiuwa, as well as R.J. Hampton, will end up with the Jayhwaks.

Current projections from recruiting experts and analysts on 247Sports have Memphis as the favorite to receive Achiuwa’s commitment. But keep in mind that many of the predictions came before some of the Tigers’ recent additions, including Ellis after he was released from his Letter of Intent to Duke. It’s obviously worth noting, though, that Evan Daniels, Director of Basketball Recruiting for 247Sports and highly esteemed college hoops insider, submitted his vote in favor of the Tigers on Wednesday morning.

It’s difficult to predict where Achiuwa will end up, but I’m comfortable saying that North Carolina is unlikely to pull off another recruiting feat this cycle. In my mind, it’s a two-horse race between Kansas and Memphis.

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Keeping It Heel will continue to follow Achiuwa’s recruitment, as well as any tweets from legendary UNC recruiter Armando Bacot, up until the time of his announcement this weekend.