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Roy Goes After Third 2011 Recruit

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Interesting to say the least.

Inside Carolina broke the news yesterday that Roy Williams was jumping into the race for Scout.com's #1 rated SG in the class of 2011, Austin Rivers. Rivers is the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and also happens to already be committed to Florida. If Roy moving on a kid who is already committed makes you uncomfortable or strikes you as odd, you are not the only one. As it turns out, Roy received permission from the family before initiating contact. The word is that Roy has talked to Rivers on the phone, been to see him workout and offered him a scholarship. That last one has sent many heads spinning in the past twelve hours for one simple reason: Roy is offering a scholarship that is technically not there. Such a move creates all kinds of speculation which we at THF will happily indulge. UNC already has two 2011 commits in P.J. Hairston and James McAdoo which technically puts them at 14 for the 2011-12 season. It is widely assumed that Ed Davis will be gone by then, if not now, for sure next season. That brings UNC down to 13 scholarships. However, if Rivers has been offered that means UNC would be back up to 14(assuming Davis leaves) which begs the question: Where is the other scholarship coming from?

Possibility #1: Roy knows someone besides Davis is leaving after this season.

This is the scenario with the least risk involved. Roy figured Davis will be gone and he knows right now someone else will be leaving the team via transfer. The first name that comes to mind is Larry Drew who has been at the center of multiple transfer rumors. Of course Drew denied said rumors and his play in the NIT has seen him look more comfortable with the situation. Another potential loss is David Wear who had surgery on his hip and for all we know might not make it back. Wear could apply for medical hardship and free up a scholarship if he is unable to return to action. A third possibility is Justin Watts. There are rumors on the message boards that he might want to play elsewhere where he could see more playing time. Watts actually makes the most sense given Roy is chasing an SG here. If it were Drew, you might assume he would attempt to grab a PG though it could be that the interest between Rivers and UNC is mutual which is why Roy is even in the mix to begin with.

Possibility #2: Roy is gambling on multiple defections after 2010-11

This is a riskier proposition than knowing right now the scholarship is going to open up. However, it stands to reason that the odds are in Roy's favor. As noted above, Davis' scholarship will very likely be open. If the wrist injury precludes Davis from making the jump this season, he will make it following the 2011 season. The other possible NBA defections are John Henson following his sophomore season and Harrison Barnes after his freshman season. Henson is already showing how insane his potential is so it would be a safe bet to believe he might go to the NBA after the 2011 season. Barnes is projected as the #1 pick in 2011 NBA mock drafts. He would be a fool to stay in school if that is the case a year from now. In this respect Roy is playing the odds that the scholarship is going to be there for Rivers. If it isn't, then it might not work out so well for Justin Watts.

Possibility #3: Roy will cross that bridge when he gets to it

Basically Roy has decided he is not going to get caught without enough perimeter players ever again so he is going to over recruit and figure out the details later. Adding Rivers would create a glut of three five star recruits at the SG slot in 2011-12. If I were Roy, I would rather have that problem than the one UNC has had this year where a lack of perimeter shooting has consistently killed the team. Again, if we assume Davis is gone and for some reason Henson and Barnes are still around, crossing that bridge might mean pulling Watts' scholarship. I have a hard time believing it would come to that but weighed against having another season like 2010, Roy might be willing to go down that road. Let us also not forget that Roy has been down this path before. In 2004 it appeared he was going to have 14 scholarship players and JameSon Curry decided to commit a felony and J.R. Smith went to the NBA. Roy said at one point last year when the media was apoplectic over Butch Davis' scholarship numbers that it usually works itself out. That thinking may be in play here. A quality player is available so why not go after him and the numbers will likely work out when the time comes.

The really nice part of all of this is (1) this is a great problem for a program to have and (2) I am pretty sure Roy knows what he is doing. There are many details we, as fans, do not have which probably renders most of what I have written moot. I tend to lean more towards the first possibility than any of the others simply because I am not sure Roy would stake out scholarships that might not be there when the time comes. Then again, Roy has said the numbers tend to work themselves out. Rivers would be a nice addition alongside Hairston and Reggie Bullock with the latter likely moving over to SF to accommodate since the SG and SF basically do the same things in Roy's offense. For now we wait and speculate wildly over something that might be much ado about nothing by the time it is all over with.