basketball Edit

Wednesday's Leftovers: UNC, Pitt, Nimari Burnett update

Kerwin Walton
Kerwin Walton (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Several pressing recruiting questions have spilled over into this week’s Wednesday’s Leftovers. Analyst Corey Evans addresses North Carolina’s potential star-studded class, the leaders for Javonte Brown-Ferguson and Nimari Burnett and Pitt’s lead guard recruitment.

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2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position


It looks as if North Carolina will want to add two more players before they move on to the 2021 class. Caleb Love and RJ Davis create a dynamic backcourt, and Walker Kessler and Day’Ron Sharpe will be one of the best frontline tandems in the sport next season. Where the Tar Heels go next should supply even greater offensive firepower to their backcourt with a scoring guard and a bigger wing.

Bryce Thompson and Kerwin Walton could potentially be fighting over the same scholarship. Walton just visited Chapel Hill over the weekend and will head to Miami and Cal the next two weeks before deciding. Thompson is done with his visits, and while UNC has remained strong in its pursuit, Kansas and Oklahoma may be difficult to beat.

On the wing, Ziaire Williams does not seem to be in much of a rush to make his college decision. North Carolina is the lone program not on the West Coast that is involved with him. Stanford and USC are among his other top suitors. Puff Johnson fits the mold of what the Tar Heels are searching for, too, and his visit to UNC this weekend could steer him away from Arizona. The Wildcats are the leader, but Johnson has always been intrigued by following in his brother’s footsteps and playing for Roy Williams.

Thompson and Williams would be the dream scenario for how the Heels fill out their 2020 class, but Walton and Johnson would also do.

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If things ended right now, it would be UConn. Javonte Brown-Ferguson, a high-end four-star prospect in the 2021 class, has taken official visits to Kansas, Texas A&M and UConn. KU’s chances are very, very slim, which brings us to the Aggies and the Huskies.

He is very good friends with Texas A&M freshmen Cashius McNeilly and Emanuel Miller, thanks to their Canadian basketball upbringing, but UConn’s proximity to his home might separate the Huskies. Each program has a major need in the frontcourt and, at one point in time, the Aggies had the large lead. That seems to have dissipated, with momentum on the side of UConn.

Expect a college commitment from Brown-Ferguson within the next week and for the Canadian to reclassify into the 2020 class, which would put him on a college campus next fall.

Yes, actually a greater chance than many believe - to the extent that I am close to switching my FutureCast selection for him in favor of the Red Raiders. Texas Tech was a late entrant into the race for Nimari Burnett, and it was actually a surprise that the Red Raiders even made his final list. Is it now possible that they could leapfrog their opponents to land the talented guard?

Burnett just completed his official visit tour over the weekend with a trip to Oregon. The Ducks had a feeling that they were playing catch-up, so it will be interesting to see if his visit to Eugene was enough to turn the tide in their favor. Michigan can offer something entirely different, as it is led by Juwan Howard and the program is close to his Chicago home, which could definitely help.

Do not slight Alabama’s chance, either. The Tide hold my FutureCast prediction and no one has recruited him harder. Look for a college decision in December.

The Panthers are going to do so, but who that specific prospect is remains difficult to pinpoint. Pitt went all-in on RJ Davis, and the Panthers were not recruiting any other guard. But the top 65 prospect ultimately chose North Carolina.

For now, Pitt’s focus is on Earl Timberlake, who is days away from making his college decision. He could be used in a playmaking role, which he has flourished in on the travel circuit and with his DeMatha Catholic High program during the school season.

Pitt will also have Ithiel Horton eligible next season, and should see Trey McGowens and Ryan Murphy return. Another strong season from Xavier Johnson could see him opt for the NBA, so I would expect Jeff Capel and his staff to pursue their options in the backcourt. They might decide to pursue recent Michigan State de-commit Jalen Terry or Rivals150 guard Mike Miles. Other options: Hit the junior college ranks or search the transfer wire later this winter.

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Things have moved quickly since Jalen Terry's de-commitment just two weeks ago. While he could eventually return to Michigan State, chances are much better that he selects a different college home.

LSU was the first to host Terry following his de-commitment. The Tigers have a major need in the backcourt with the likely departure of Javonte Smart to the NBA after this season. Will Wade’s program sits in a very good spot to land Terry’s commitment when the time comes.

However, Louisville and Oregon are two others that should be strongly considered as potential landing spots. He could visit one or both before deciding, while a slew of others remain involved for one of the top guards available this fall. A timeline toward a second commitment has not been set, and his recruitment could remain open until the spring.