UNC Basketball: 4-star target looking for ‘high-paced, up and down’ system

Jan 12, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams reacts in the second half at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 12, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams reacts in the second half at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

The UNC basketball program recently extended a scholarship offer to Dereck Lively II, and the versatile 4-star center could be a perfect fit for the Tar Heels.

Roy Williams and his coaching staff have all but wrapped up the recruiting class of 2021, which is to say that they’re not likely to sign any of their remaining uncommitted targets in the class.

Hunter Sallis seemed like a real possibility for the Tar Heels at one point, but now looks like a near lock for either Gonzaga or Kentucky. The Tar Heels never really appeared to be a legitimate contender for Chet Holmgren, but that’s even more apparent now. Holmgren, the No. 1 prospect in the class, is likely headed to Spokane himself, and could very well be playing alongside Sallis this time next year.

The Tar Heels will likely look to add reinforcements to next year’s squad via the transfer market. Beyond that, there’s not much else they can do to bolster a 2021 class that currently has just two members — 4-stars Dontrez Styles and D’Marco Dunn. Fortunately for Williams, his coaching staff and an anxious North Carolina fan base, they may not have to.

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A number of current Tar Heels — and potentially all of them — could return to college next season. Players such a Caleb Love and Day’Ron Sharpe, who have seen their draft stock drop in recent weeks, could stick around because of an inconsistent and somewhat underwhelming 2020-21 campaign. Others might simply take advantage of the NCAA ruling that affords an extra year of eligibility to winter sport student-athletes due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on this season.

With all of that in mind, North Carolina has gone almost all-in on recruiting the class of 2022, for which they’ve yet to snag their first commitment. They’ve extended eight scholarship offers, and have a handful of other prospects on their radar. Of the high school juniors that currently hold a UNC offer, three are of the 5-star variety, and five of them are 4-stars. And while it’s still too early to get a good feel for where each of the UNC targets might end up, recently offered Dereck Lively II could be one of the more likely options for North Carolina


In a recent interview with 247Sports’ Sherrell McMillan, Lively talked about the style of basketball that best suits his game, and how he likes to utilize his skills on the court. Each of the things he mentioned made a marriage with the Tar Heels seem like the perfect fit, not the least of which is how fast he likes to play the game.

"“I just want a high intensity, high-paced, up-and-down system,” Lively said. “I like shooting threes, pick and rolls, and catching it off the jump. I just don’t like sitting still. For a coaching staff, I like coaches that get behind their players and support them. Just hands on, one-on-one, trying to help them and get them to be the best player they can be. Mainly I want a school to help me develop so I can get to the next level as easy as possible because my goal is to try and stay in the NBA.”"

Lively is, no doubt, describing a program like North Carolina, that will allow him to play the game incredibly fast, and help him get to the NBA. It’s also likely that by the time Lively would arrive on campus in the fall of 2022, most of the current UNC front court would be gone.

Lively, a 6-foot-11, 200-pound center out of Westtown School in in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, is ranked 39th in the 247Sports Composite. He’s fifth among players at his position, and No. 2 in the state of Pennsylvania. He’s currently fielding offers from Florida, Florida State, Memphis, Ohio State, UCLA and Xavier, among others.

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Stick with Keeping It Heel for all the latest on the Dereck Lively II recruitment, as well as everything UNC basketball.