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Three-Point Play: Tracking Blackshear; Cole a target; UNC-Duke

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In today’s edition of the Three-Point Play, national basketball analyst Corey Evans discusses the ongoing recruitment of top grad-transfer Kerry Blackshear. He also discusses the latest with Howard transfer RJ Cole and another page within the Duke-UNC rivalry.

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1. Why Kerry Blackshear is a fascinating storyline

Kerry Blackshear
Kerry Blackshear (AP)

What is the fuss surrounding Kerry Blackshear? It for good reason as the Virginia Tech standout is one of the most productive, impactful prospects that we have seen within the grad-transfer waters in recent years and could single-handedly put a program over the top in pursuit of next year’s national title. He averaged 14.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists last season.

A 6-foot-10 center and one of the best passing big men in the college game, Blackshear decided to transfer out of Virginia Tech following the departure of Buzz Williams. He could follow his former coach to Texas A&M as Williams completed an in-home visit with Blackshear’s family on Saturday evening. However, the competition for him remains fierce.

First, Blackshear will test the NBA waters, but if the feedback isn’t what he had envisioned, expect for him to be back in college next year, though not in Blacksburg.

On Monday evening, Kentucky’s John Calipari completed an in-home visit with Blackshear's family. The Wildcats are definitely a top suitor for him, but this is not a done deal for the blue blood. There has been talk of his desire to play close to home which would bolster Florida’s chances with him. However, there are some dark horses in the race as Gonzaga, Michigan State and Tennessee are three to keep an eye on.

Do not expect a college commitment any time soon. Blackshear’s focus will be on the NBA and with the deadline to pull his name out of the draft not until June 10, a college commitment should not be expected until late May, at the earliest. Buckle up because there is some time to go with the top grad-transfers this spring.

2. Cole gets his due

Three years ago, RJ Cole was the face of the St. Anthony’s program that was also one of the last great teams that the famous Bob Hurley ever coached at the now defunct school. For such a role, usually Cole would be a heavily recruited, high-major target. He was not as many believed that he was more of an undersized scoring guard and couldn’t cut it at the highest level. Howard reaped such rewards and since his enrollment, he has posted over 21 points, six assists and three rebounds in each of his college seasons.

Now ready to leave his mark at the power conference level, Cole, who is one of the top traditional transfers available this spring, is seeing the high-major interest come in that was warranted during his high school days.

Already, he has met with the coaches from Alabama, UConn and Murray State. A visit has been set to Alabama for the first weekend in May and another has been scheduled to UConn on the weekend of May 9. Arkansas will likely receive his third official visit which could take place beginning on May 17.

Cole told tell Rivals.com that he plans on taking all five of his allotted official visits and that Butler, Boston College, Cal, Colorado State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Pitt, Stanford, Virginia Tech and Washington State have also expressed heavy interest in securing one the two remaining visits that he would be allowed to take.

3. Duke, Carolina trade blows

Cassius Stanley
Cassius Stanley (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Call it coincidence or what you want but Duke and North Carolina, two programs that make up the greatest rivalry in the spot, were to the two biggest noise makers within the past week on the recruiting trail.

Matthew Hurt and Cole Anthony were both heavily tracked prospects for the past two years by Duke and UNC, respectively. However, each was last-minute entrants into the race for Cassius Stanley and Anthony Harris and were aided by the brand recognition and cache that each program represents in winning the races for each four-star prospect.

Two weeks ago, there was questions on how Duke would complete its frontcourt and where depth would be supplied in the backcourt. Two weeks ago, North Carolina was reeling from the many recruiting misses it endured throughout the fall and winter months. Now, it has completed backcourt with arguably the most prolific offensive guard in the 2019 class in Anthony, and arguably the best on-ball defender in the 2019 class in Harris.

Two programs going punch for punch with each other that should not only bolster their 2019-2020 national championship hopes but also adding another page to the great rivalry in the game.