UNC Basketball: Which program is the clubhouse leader for Jalen Wilson?

COLUMBUS, OHIO - MARCH 24: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels sits in the bench during their game against the Washington Huskies in the Second Round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 24, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OHIO - MARCH 24: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels sits in the bench during their game against the Washington Huskies in the Second Round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena on March 24, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Roy Williams and the UNC basketball program are putting on a full-court press for former Michigan commit Jalen Wilson, but which program is the clubhouse leader in his recruitment?

The North Carolina Tar Heels already have the No. 9 recruiting class in the country for 2019, but their ranking would improve with a commitment from top-50 prospect Jalen Wilson.

The Tar Heels have filled out their roster quite nicely over the past couple of months, beginning with the signing of 5-star point guard Cole Anthony. The fourth-ranked player in the nation picked North Carolina over Georgetown, Notre Dame, Oregon and Wake Forest, giving the Tar Heels their much-needed replacement for sensational freshman Coby White, who left the program for the NBA after just one season.

Shortly after Anthony’s pledge to the Tar Heels, Williams and company got another back court commitment; this time, from 4-star guard and former Virginia Tech pledge Anthony Harris. Harris was set to be a big part of the Hokies’ plans for the 2019-20 season, but he decided to leave the program and reopen his recruitment upon the departure of head coach Buzz Williams, who left Blacksburg for the same position at Texas A&M.

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The Tar Heels greatly improved their stock twice over the next 10 days, getting commitments from two of college basketball’s most highly coveted graduate transfers in Charleston Southern superstar Christian Keeling, and William and Mary shooting guard Justin Pierce.

Though North Carolina was thought to have completed its 2019 recruiting class at that time, the decommitment of Wilson from the Wolverines quickly changed that. Upon his request to be released from his national letter of intent — which the school granted a few days later — the Tar Heels almost immediately moved to the top of a short list of contenders to sign the heralded 4-star wing. They are also one of just two schools to this point to have received an official visit from the 6-foot-8, 215-pound small forward out of Guyer High School in Denton, Texas.

And that’s where Wilson is now, in Chapel Hill visiting the Tar Heels before returning home to make what most assume will be a fairly swift decision on what school he’ll be attending in the fall. But what schools are vying for him, and which is presumably the clubhouse leader for Wilson’s commitment at this time?

There were obviously a number of schools that were interested in Wilson’s services at the time of his announcement to open his recruitment for a second time. By all accounts, though, it appears that the only legitimate players in the Wilson sweepstakes are Kansas — where he spent a couple of days last week on an official visit — North Carolina, and surprisingly, Michigan.

That’s right. The program that Wilson walked away from less than a month ago still has a shot at seeing him in its uniform when the season begins in November. That can be attributed to the recent hire of former Wolverine and 18-year NBA veteran Juwan Howard. Howard has been pushing hard to remain in contention for Wilson, and is expected meet with him in what we assume will be an in-home visit some time this week.

It remains seemingly more likely, though, that Wilson will choose between the Jayhawks and Tar Heels, two programs that appear to have a pretty tight stranglehold on his attention at this time.

Rivals recruiting analyst Eric Bossi recently touched on that topic, shedding some light on his perception of the Wilson recruitment, and what program he views as the favorite.

"“Wilson recently wrapped up his official visit to Kansas and on Monday he traveled to Chapel Hill to begin his official visit with North Carolina,” Bossi said. “Also, new Michigan coach Juwan Howard has been spending time on the phone with Wilson and his family to try and save his commitment.Early indications are that the visit to Lawrence was quite strong and that Bill Self and the Jayhawks have put themselves in excellent position. North Carolina may be able to turn him, but it has got some catching up to do if they are going to lure Wilson out of Big 12 country.As for Howard and Michigan, they are trying to get back in the picture but unless they are able to get in home for a visit really soon, odds appear to be stacked against them.”"

So while Howard has done a magnificent job of playing his way into contention, he and the Wolverines may have too much ground to make up in too short of a time period. Keep in mind, though, that Kansas and North Carolina both have pretty stacked rosters with no definite amount of minutes available. The Tar Heels do, however, have a pretty big hole to fill at the wing where sharpshooter Cameron Johnson used to roam.

According to the latest predictions from experts and analysts on 247Sports.com, Wilson is leaning toward a commitment to Kansas. It’s worth noting, though, that Director of Basketball Recruiting for 247Sports, Evan Daniels, submitted an “undecided” Crystal Ball prediction for Wilson last Wednesday. It’s a good sign for the Tar Heels that Daniels — who’s correctly predicted the destination of 179 out of 192 prospects — hasn’t picked Kansas like so many other experts have in recent weeks.

There’s still no set timeline for a Wilson commitment, but don’t be shocked if he makes an announcement shortly after his return home from the UNC campus.

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