Scout.com's Dave Telep is reporting that UNC received a verbal commitment from 2011 PF prospect Jackson Simmons(Sylva, NC) as a walk-on.
The Tar Heels accepted a verbal commitment from Simmons, a 6-foot-7 rising senior out of Sylva (N.C.) Smoky Mountain.
"It came out of left field," Simmons said. "It’s truly an honor. I don’t really know what to say."
Roy Williams has been known to pick in-state kids with talent and give them a chance to earn their way and be a part of the state program. He did it often at Kansas but Simmons may be the most talented player to which he’s ever offered this opportunity.
"I’m going to get to go to Carolina and play basketball at Carolina," Simmons said. "It’s a great deal. Coach Williams talked to me after the first (July evaluation) period. He said that he’s got some scholarship offers out and he gave me the proposition of being on the varsity as an invited walk-on and the scholarship stuff will play its way out."
Telep called this a common practice for Roy Williams to bring an in-state player into the program this way. Simmons will come in as a walk-on with Roy telling him a scholarship is possible if certain things play out. It should be noted Roy has already done this once since coming to UNC. Justin Watts was an unranked in-state player Roy brought it in much the same way. The difference with Watts is he was actually offered a scholarship upfront instead of being asked to walk-on. The scholarship in question was Alex Stepheson's made available when the sophomore left the program for USC. That move has been roundly criticized by fans as a wasted scholarship UNC really needed and led to numerous rumors Watts would transfer. The scholarship numbers ultimately panned out with The Wears leaving and Watts is still on the team.
While Telep reports Roy has a history of doing this, one could argue that the experience with The Wears and the lack of depth on the frontline has caused Roy to make a concerted effort to bring Simmons in as a walk-on. This seems to be very much about keeping scholarship options open but also getting some halfway decent players who could develop over time. Obviously, Roy has to believe the player has potential and by all accounts Simmons is being labeled by Telep as the best walk-on prospect Roy has ever secured. Also remember there are two cases of walk-on players flourishing under Roy Williams. Wes Miller and David Noel made huge contributions after walking on. The other side of this is the player's choice. For Simmons this is a choice between walking on to UNC where he might not play much and battle higher rated players for playing time or going to Davidson, Charlotte, etc where he would likely start. Simmons is opting for the UNC experience regardless of how much he plays and why not? Being at UNC means there is a legitimate chance you could walk away with an NCAA title ring at some point. If you think you can develop enough to make a contribution then why not take the chance?
Oh and allow me to go ahead and toss out the likely ABCer lines for this one:
Roy is oversigning just like Butch Davis!(Never mind you can't oversign in basketball)
Roy is screwing the mid-major schools in the state over by stealing quality players from them to have them sit on the bench.
Roy is a whiner!(by rule this must be said any time Roy's name is mentioned)
Roy is so desperate!
Feel free to add others in the comments section.