Three-Point Play: UNC's momentum, pressure on Memphis
Has North Carolina regained its recruiting mojo? It appears that way. In today’s edition of the Three-Point-Play, we take a look at UNC’s five-star haul, the best storyline of the college basketball season, and the latest on top-40 junior Deebo Coleman.
1. Has North Carolina regained its mojo?
We all know the story by now, that North Carolina continued to come up short in the recruitment of five-star prospects. Duke and Kentucky surpassed them as recruiting goliaths and while they did win a few prized recruitments, even with such prospects, there was a set of circumstances surrounding it that felt that they might not be capable of winning the more heated affairs.
Cole Anthony was a heavy UNC lean from the star; his final school list was Carolina and a bunch of solid high-majors. His UNC commitment was one of the worst kept secrets in the recruiting industry last year.
Nassir Little was included within the FBI investigation into the sport; instead of playing out the process, he immediately committed to North Carolina. Arizona and Miami might have been the leaders but were knocked out of contention due to the probe.
That all has changed this fall and in a big way. Sure, Day’Ron Sharpe was an early commitment and they got involved before anyone else really could. For Walker Kessler and Caleb Love, that is an entirely different story.
The Tar Heels beat not only the local powers for each, but also the elite nationally for Kessler and Love. Kessler was the biggest surprise of them all, but even overcoming Missouri’s gasp of the top local talent should come as a gigantic win for this week. It might not be over yet, either. Duke is now out on Ziaire Williams as UNC continues to gain traction which could be exactly what is needed to land the most prized prospect of them all: Cade Cunningham.
2. Memphis in the spotlight
Is Memphis not going to be the best storyline of the college basketball season!? I mean, when was the last time that we saw someone seen as the Favorite Son return to his alma mater, land the nation’s top recruiting class over bluebloods Duke and Kentucky, and then predict a national title is in the cards like Penny Hardaway did earlier this week with The Athletic?
I get it. Some have been put off by Hardaway and his antics, like whenever he told Tennessee coach Rick Barnes last year, “Rick Barnes, get the f--- out of here.” But how is this not great for the sport? John Calipari had Memphis absolutely rolling over 10 years ago, but what Hardaway has already accomplished is pretty impressive.
Now it is time to produce and like I stated, the storylines will not be in short supply. Will James Wiseman be ready for the scrutiny that he is about to face as the central figure of the team’s offense? Will Precious Achiuwa, Lester Quinones and DJ Jeffries accept their roles as complementary pieces compared to being ‘the guy’ that they have been accustomed to? What about sophomore guards, Alex Lomax and Tyler Harris, natives of the city, that started the majority of their freshmen season but will likely see bench minutes behind Boogie Ellis and Damion Baugh.
If talent was all that mattered, Duke or Kentucky would be raising the national title banner every year. This year’s Memphis squad is going to be quite the case study. For as good of a coach that Hardaway will have to be, he may be forced to be an even better psychologist if what he predicts actually comes true.
3. Deebo plans slew of visits
Since the implementation of the rule that allows for juniors to take official visits, a number Rivals150 prospects have used such an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the programs recruiting them. Count Deebo Coleman among the group as the four-star junior is expected to take a number of visits over the next several weeks.
Nestled in at Nassau County High School in Jacksonville, Coleman has become valued for his shot-making prowess. Arguably one of the best shooters in his 2021 class nationally, a number of coaches have been in to see him of late including those from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, and Wake Forest.
A slew of unofficial visits are aligned for the next few weeks with Florida being his first stop on Saturday, Oct. 5. From there, he is set to visit Clemson (Oct. 11), Alabama (Oct. 25), and Wake Forest (Nov. 1).
All will come in the unofficial variety but he is hoping to visit Iowa State and Oklahoma State officially before his school season begins. Labeling a favorite for him remains difficult and I would be surprised if a commitment was made before the spring, but by taking such a large number of visits before the new year, I also wouldn’t be shocked if he continues the trend of prospects ending their recruitments earlier compared to prior classes.