Trying not to be outdone by the football program’s massive recruiting haul over the weekend, the basketball program made some noise late Sunday evening. In the most recent edition of UNC basketball’s “Scholarships after Dark” – THB’s nickname for the late night practice that has come to define UNC’s scholarship offers – Roy Williams continued his renewed interest in the West Coast and offered class of 2020 small forward Ziaire Williams. Due to Ziaire hailing from California, the news dropped on the East Coast after 11 PM in the form of this tweet. (Note: For the rest of this post, we’ll use “Roy” and “Ziaire” to identify which “Williams” is being discussed).
Standing at 6’7” and 175lbs, Williams is a listed as a small forward by 247 Sports, Rivals, and ESPN. Not quite a consensus five-star recruit, he currently ranks in the top-20 for both 247 Sports (20th) and Rivals (14th). ESPN is currently anomaly, listing him at 51st (though ESPN is often a bit slower to update their rankings, especially for juniors). Regardless, the rankings don’t matter as Roy was clearly impressed when he personally witnessed Ziaire’s 29-point, 15-rebound performance this weekend.
Ziaire may currently project as a small forward, but with another year to develop and grow, expect him to follow the current trend of UNC recruits filling multiple positions. Not the most explosive or athletic player (yet), Ziaire’s strengths are in his ability to shoot from anywhere on the court. Three pointers, mid-range pull-ups, and floaters are all part of his arsenal. Nothing about the highlights below scream “overpowering”, but he has a quick first step to beat the defense and get into the lane. His length will cause mismatches on the perimeter and make him a danger to corral rebounds and loose balls. Check out these highlights.
After a string of recruiting misses, it’s hard to gauge UNC’s chances. It’s still early in the 2020 cycle, but Ziaire did take a surprise unofficial visit to Chapel Hill in October to UNC”s Late Night With Roy. A voluntary, out-of-pocket, cross-country trek isn’t a common occurrence. One has to think that at a minimum, UNC is more than just window dressing at this point. The basketball staff returned that interest this past weekend, giving Ziaire the chance to make his future in Chapel Hill a long-term arrangement.
Ziaire is the fourth player from the class of 2020 to hold a scholarship offer from North Carolina. Point guard Jeremy Roach and power forward Isaiah Todd have held offers since the fall, as we first mentioned here and here. Center Day’ron Sharpe is the lone 2020 verbal commitment to the Heels. With so much unknown in the 2019 recruiting class, offers to current juniors have been to slow to develop.
Ziaire Williams has not announced a timeline for official visits or a decision, but it is safe to assume there’s still a ways to go with this one. We’ll keep you posted.