UNC Basketball Recruiting: Tar Heels falling behind with five-star prospect?

Class of 2023 UNC basketball recruiting target slipping through the cracks for Hubert Davis and company?

Hubert Davis and the North Carolina Tar Heels are in the midst of an ACC Tournament run that has them preparing for a semifinal matchup with Virginia Tech and nearing their first conference final since 2018.

And while that’s obviously the main concern right now, there’s always the underlying matter of year-round recruiting that never seems to stop. That’s the case right now, as North Carolina continues to work hard on securing commitments in the class of 2023 to add to the early five-star pledge of Simeon Wilcher.

One of their top targets in the class is MacKenzie Mgbako, a five-star small forward that’s ranked third in his class according to the 247Sports Composite. Things were going okay for the Tar Heels in the early goings of Mgbako’s recruitment, though the Blue Devils were considered the favorites amid a slew of attention from schools such as Auburn, Kentucky, Memphis, and UCLA.

Unfortunately for the Tar Heels and the rest of their competition not named Duke, things haven’t changed much. According to Rivals Basketball Recruiting Director Rob Cassidy, the likely landing spot for MgBako is in Durham with the Blue Devils.

“If Mgbako chooses to go to college in the ACC, Duke will likely be the destination,” Cassidy writes. “But, hey, stranger things have happened. The Tar Heels see themselves as having a chance, as head coach Hubert Davis was in to visit the 6-foot-8 wing this fall.

In order for North Carolina to climb the ladder here, it will first need to get Mgbako on campus. That’s certainly possible, but it’s hard to take the Tar Heels too seriously as a contender until that happens.”

Cassidy’s thoughts are consistent to the folks over at 247Sports, all of whom predict an eventual Duke commitment for MgBako, a junior at Gill St Bernard S School in Gladstone, New Jersey. There are currently four predictions in MgBako’s Crystal Ball and all are in favor of the Blue Devils with moderate to high confidence.

Although it’s not over yet, I wouldn’t hold my breath for the Tar Heels to earn a pledge from this consensus five-star recruit. If he doesn’t end up picking the Blue Devils, John Calipari’s Kentucky WIldcats will be waiting in the wings.

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