UNC Basketball: Tar Heels would benefit from key addition to 2022 class

Hubert Davis and the UNC basketball program would greatly benefit from one key addition to their 2022 recruiting class.

The North Carolina Tar Heels’ 2022 recruiting class is ranked No. 1 in the nation, and for good reason. First-year UNC head coach Hubert Davis has already gotten commitments from three prospects in the class, all of whom rank within the top 150 of the 247Sports Composite.

Will Shaver was the first member of the class, committing to North Carolina on June 2, less than 24 hours removed from his official visit to Chapel Hill. Shaver, a 3-star center that’s ranked 135th in the nation, was soon joined by Menomonee Falls senior Seth Trimble, a 4-star point guard and the brother of former Tar Heel J.P. Tokoto. The icing on the cake for Davis and his coaching staff was the pledge they got on July 9 from 6-foot-9, 210-pound Jalen Washington, the first 5-star prospect to commit to North Carolina since the coaching change that saw Davis, a longtime UNC assistant, take over for the newly-retired Roy Williams.

And while nobody should be complaining about the results of Davis’ first three months on the job — they’ve been nothing short of outstanding — there is one key addition on the recruiting trail that would take the Tar Heels’ 2022 class from great to superb.

We’ve talked at length over the past few years about North Carolina’s struggles to reel in a top-flight wing prospect. It’s been since the fall of 2017 that the Tar Heels received a commitment from such a player — current Portland Trail Blazers reserve Nassir Little — which marks the last 5-star small forward to don a Carolina uniform. That’s three consecutive recruiting cycles in which they’ve missed on every highly-rated wing that they targeted.

With a couple of talented big men already in tow, along with one of the nation’s top 10 point guards, as well as a handful of likely returners from this year’s UNC squad, the Tar Heels would be in excellent shape if they could nab either one of the 5-star wings that they are currently recruiting. Specifically, the addition of Chris Livingston or Mark Mitchell would be a game-changer for the Tar Heels, as both players — likely one-and-dones — have the skill, athleticism and versatility to make an immediate impact at the college level.

Now, that’s not to say that current Tar Heel wings Justin McKoy and Dontrez Styles won’t make an impact in Chapel Hill. In fact, I don’t believe that to be the case at all. Both are likely multiple-year college athletes that will grow and thrive within the UNC system. They simply may not be ready to shoulder that big of a load right off that bat, and they may not have the same ceiling as a Livingston or Mitchell.

Davis and his new-look coaching staff have already made a big splash on the recruiting trail since taking over in early April, so who’s to say that they can’t turn the tide on the Tar Heels’ recent trend with elite wings? The rookie head coach has quickly proven that he can lure in elite talent — both from the high school ranks and on the NCAA transfer market — and I believe he can do it again.

We’ll continue to follow the Tar Heels’ 2022 recruiting class, as well as all the latest on the UNC basketball program.