CBS Sports has put out a list of the top 100 players in college basketball. Here are where the Tar Heels ended up.
3. MARCUS PAIGE (NORTH CAROLINA)
Paige developed into the best offensive guard in the NCAA last season with his ability to not only consistently get into the middle of the lane, but also with his further-developed outside jumper. He'll be the engine that makes UNC's high-powered offense go. --Sam Vecenie
61. BRICE JOHNSON (NORTH CAROLINA)
Johnson quietly averaged 10.3 points and 6.1 rebounds as a sophomore last season. He's one of the many weapons on UNC's roster that's good enough to make a Final Four. -- GP
88. JUSTIN JACKSON (NORTH CAROLINA)
Proof that Roy Williams and his staff really trust and believe in Jackson came when the freshman wing started in UNC's first exhibition. He's another reason why NBA scouts will basically live in the Raleigh area this season. -- GP
Obviously no issue with Marcus Paige at #3 given he is being picked for most of the All-American teams in the preseason he would naturally be in the top five. Brice Johnson at #61 also isn't a huge deal logically because there are questions about his consistency.
The one ranking I have a quibble with here(pointless as it may be) is Justin Jackson at #88. My main complaint here is it is completely illogical based on the information at hand and even Gary Parrish's blurb about Jackson. If the freshman is going to be good enough to have NBA scouts watching him all the time then he's probably better than 88th right?
The other issue is Jackson is significantly lower than several other incoming freshman. According to the RSCI rankings Jackson was 9th in the class of 2014. Comparing those rankings to this list you find there are six players ranked lower than Jackson in the RSCI top 20 but well above him in this top 100. UCLA's Kevin Looney is 70th while Duke's Justise Winslow, who is 13th in the RSCI is 18th in the CBS rankings. In between those two are a smattering of the other four.
Now, every player is walking into a different situation and in some cases you can bump a player up if it looks like said player is going to have a greater opportunity to contribute. A player going to a team with experienced depth might not produce commiserate to his RSCI ranking but a player who ends up being the #1 or 2 scoring option may outproduce players ranked ahead of him. That being said, Jackson is going to a team that was thin on the wing last season giving him ample opportunity to play and produce.
Then there is the "what we know" factor. Since freshman haven't played in a college game that counts, all we have to go on is recruiting analysis, AAU play and the spring all-star games like the McDonald's All-American game and what not. In some cases there have been scrimmages and exhibition games. The sample size is small and in some cases freshman are tossed into these rankings based on pure guesses or uninformed opinion. However, Jackson was a co-MVP of the All-American game(with Duke's Jahlil Okafor who is #1 according to CBS) scoring 23 points. Jackson led UNC in the Late Night team scrimmage with 17 points on 8-9 shooting. He led the team with 18 points on 6-9 shooting and 3-4 from three in UNC's first exhibition game against Fayetteville State, a game which he started. The sample size is small but the sample size is small for all the incoming players. Bearing all of this in mind, I am curious as to what body of evidence, logic and other factors could be used to put Jackson #88 while putting other freshman significantly higher?
Wait, did I just ask a national media outlet to produce a list based on logic, facts and common sense? Oh..never mind then.