UNC Basketball: Tar Heels out on 5-star wing from Kansas?

Is the UNC basketball program on the outs with 5-star small forward Mark Mitchell?

The North Carolina Tar Heels have been recruiting 5-star wing Mark Mitchell for quite some time now, and he received a scholarship offer back in November of 2020 from former UNC head coach Roy Williams. And while the Tar Heels appeared to have at least some momentum in his recruitment at one point in time, it looks as if they are now on the outside looking in.

According to 247Sports, North Carolina is not among the teams considered to be leading in Mitchell’s recruitment. Those honors belong to Duke, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State and UCLA, who are considered either “warm” or “warmer” as it relates to Mitchell’s level of interest in the respective schools. The Tar Heels, continually on the losing end of a 5-star small forward’s commitment in recent years, figure to come up short again in their search for an elite wing.

“I would place UCLA as the current leader for Mark Mitchell, who is a 2022 five-star prospect out of Wichita Sunrise Christian High School,” 247Sports’ Jerry Meyer wrote in a recent piece. “Mitchell just officially visited UCLA, has a strong relationship with the staff, and his brother lives in Los Angeles.

Mitchell also has official visits scheduled with Missouri, Oklahoma State and Duke this month. He will also unofficially visit nearby Kansas. So there is a lot of recruiting activity coming up for Mitchell. The landscape of his recruitment is far from settled and there could be a lot of shifting. I would keep a close eye on Duke and Kansas in his recruitment.”

That’s really no surprise for the Tar Heels, though, as they’re yet to earn a pledge from a 5-star wing in a handful of recruiting cycles dating back to a commitment from Nassir Little in October of 2017. Since then, they’ve missed on countless 5-star wings, including 2019’s Josh Green and Precious Achiuwa — both of whom are now in the NBA — and 2020’s Ziaire Williams, who instead chose to play for former UNC assistant and current Stanford head coach Jerod Haase.

The Tar Heels currently have just one other offer out to an elite, 5-star wing in the class of 2022, Buchtel’s Chris Livingston. And despite their inability to position themselves well in Mitchell’s recruitment, they appear to have a strong foothold in Livingston’s, the No. 4-ranked prospect in the entire 2022 class. They’ll, no doubt, continue to push hard for him, as they hope to bring on board a first-class slasher, scorer, perimeter shooter and defender, to join their lone commit of the 2022 class, 6-foot-9-inch Will Shaver.

Check back with Keeping It Heel for all the latest on the UNC basketball program.