UNC Basketball: Why aren’t Tar Heels pushing harder for 5-star wing?

Why aren’t Roy Williams, UNC basketball program pushing harder for 5-star wing?

Roy Williams and the North Carolina basketball program brought in one of the nation’s top recruiting classes for the 2020 cycle, but still they missed on the elite wing that’s been seemingly elusive over the past few years. The Tar Heels are working to fix that in the classes of 2021 and beyond, but are still yet to secure the blue chip recruit they’ve been seeking since signing 5-star small forward Nassir Little in 2017.

None of this, however, is meant to devalue the commitment of Dontrez Styles, a 4-star prospect that ranks 55th overall in the 2021 class and No. 1 in the state of North Carolina. Styles is a very good recruit, but he may not be ready to come in and be an impact player for the Tar Heels from day one.

That might not be the case with with Patrick Baldwin, Jr. and Harrison Ingram, though, a pair of top-15 prospects in the class that have the skill and athleticism to potentially start for North Carolina as freshmen. Both players are holding scholarship offers from Roy Williams, as is Caleb Houstan, a 5-star small forward that’s up to No. 7 in the class of 2022. Yet another highly touted prospect, Jarace Walker, is ranked just one spot below Houstan according to the 247Sports Composite, and he’s got interest in UNC, despite having not received a scholarship offer to this point.

A 6-foot-6, 220-pound wing from Bradenton, Florida, Walker told 247Sports’ Travis Branham that he grew up following the Tar Heels. North Carolina is among the teams that have reached out to him already, as are Arkansas, Bryant, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Nebraska, Syracuse and Tulsa. He’s holding offers from each of the aforementioned as well as Auburn, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, among others. He’s stated that he would like Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina to get involved from an official standpoint in the form of a scholarship offer, though none of the blue blood trio have pulled the trigger yet.

A senior at IMG Academy — where former 5-star recruit and current UNC sophomore Armando Bacot played — Walker is a physically gifted athlete with versatility in his offensive game. He’s a good ball handler and slasher, and finishes well at the rim. He’s capable of pouring in points on his own, or setting up teammates for open shots. He’s also developing into a solid rebounder and defender that could play multiple positions at the college level.

Don’t expect his recruitment to end any time soon, though, as Wallace will likely hold offers from all of the nation’s major hoops programs by the time he makes a decision. That doesn’t mean, however, that North Carolina shouldn’t get a head start now.

Stick with Keeping It Heel for any developments in the Jarace Walker recruitment, and everything UNC basketball.