UNC Basketball: Tar Heels won’t beat Blue Devils for 5-star recruit

Roy Williams and the UNC basketball program are battling Duke for 5-star power forward Patrick Baldwin, Jr., but one national recruiting analyst says the Tar Heels don’t stand a chance.

The North Carolina Tar Heels may have the best front court in the nation at the start of the 2020 college basketball season, but that hasn’t stopped Roy Williams and his coaching staff from targeting a number of the top big men from the class of 2021.

One of those bigs is 5-star power forward Patrick Baldwin, Jr., who the Tar Heels have been recruiting for some time now. So, too, have myriad of other schools, as Baldwin was holding nearly two-dozen scholarship offers when he named his list of 10 finalists in May. Joining North Carolina in hot pursuit of the rising senior big man are Duke, Georgetown, Kentucky, Michigan, Northwestern, UCLA, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Baldwin has not publicly stated that Duke is the current leader in his recruitment, but college basketball insiders and recruiting analysts alike almost unanimously believe that he’ll end up at Duke once the dust settles. That includes a consensus of experts from both 247Sports and Rivals, including Corey Evans, who said as much in his recent Wednesday Mailbag. Evans specifically mentioned the Tar Heels, noting that they are an absolute long-shot to reel in the nation’s top front court prospect.

“. . . I give the Tar Heels very little chance with Pat Baldwin, despite Paolo Banchero’s commitment to Duke last week,” Evans writes. “That doesn’t mean that UNC hasn’t invested the proper time in recruiting Baldwin, but rather that Banchero’s decision has very little impact on whether Baldwin chooses UNC. The two players would only make each other better, so Duke is the team to beat. If he doesn’t pick the blueblood program it will be because it was too difficult to decline the chance to play for his dad at Milwaukee.”

The 6-foot-9, 205-pound Baldwin has terrific length and athleticism that allows him to compete at either forward position, and helps him create mismatches on both ends of the court. He can score from all three levels, runs the floor well and isn’t afraid to drive the lane for big finishes above the rim. He’s also got good handles for a big man, and an outstanding basketball I.Q.

Baldwin is ranked No. 1 in the class of 2021 according to the 247Sports Composite, and in the Rivals 150. ESPN, on the other hand, ranks him second in the class to seven-foot center Chet Holmgren.

Check back with Keeping It Heel for all the latest on Patrick Baldwin, Jr., and everything UNC basketball.