With the welcome news that Cameron Johnson will be returning to Chapel Hill for his senior season, UNC’s scholarship situation for 2018 is now clear. To recap, UNC loses 3 scholarship players from the 2017-18 team in Joel Berry, Theo Pinson, and Jalek Felton. The class of 2018 has three players as well: Nassir Little, Coby White, and Rechon “Leaky” Black. It would appear that the team has no scholarships available, then, and that the 2018 class should be done. However, one of the team’s current scholarships belongs to Shea Rush, who joined the team as a preferred walk-on before collecting a scholarship his sophomore year after Justin Jackson’s early (though expected) departure from the program. Based on Roy Williams’ actions this offseason, it can be assumed that this scholarship is not locked to Rush, no disrespect intended. With Johnson coming back, this means that Williams has one scholarship to offer in 2018 if he so chooses.
With that one scholarship, Roy Williams appears to have three options for the 2018 class. Power forward/center Jordan Brown and an unnamed, uncommitted 2018 prospect have shown some interest in being recruited by UNC, and, as previously reported here, impending Kentucky transfer Sacha Killeya-Jones has already been offered a scholarship. Williams’ familiarity with Killeya-Jones’ game, demeanor, and family gives him an obvious leg up on the other two, and his ability to fill the stretch-4 need that will be created by Luke Maye’s departure in a year certainly doesn’t hurt. The low-post area, where Brown would project to fit at Carolina, is comparatively set for the time being, with Sterling Manley primed to step into being a starter for at least two years and Brandon Huffman developing behind him.
The downside of Killeya-Jones, of course, is that as a transfer, he will have to sit for a year under current NCAA rules, leaving UNC one scholarship player short for 2018-19 should he choose to become a Tar Heel. Most years, losing out on a roster spot for an immediate contributor would be a big deal. Next year, however, UNC will pretty easily go 9 deep just with players who are mostly known quantities, not to mention the potential improvement of players such as Andrew Platek and Brandon Huffman. Depth won’t be a problem.
Looking further down the road, Roy Williams was visited on Wednesday by one of the top players in the 2019 class, Vernon Carey, Jr. He seemed to like it okay:
Good School visit with North Carolina today!! #tarheels— Vernon Carey Jr. (@vernoncarey22) April 19, 2018
Additionally, this weekend is big for 2019 recruiting because it is the first Evaluation Period of April. The UnderArmour, Adidas, and Nike EYBL circuits all have big events this weekend with several players who have received interest from UNC, and it’s a fair bet that Roy Williams and his staff will be around. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear of a few more offers being given to 2019 and 2020 prospects this weekend; it’s generally a pretty offer-heavy period.
Soon after losing defensive back Jayden Curry, UNC received a commitment from 2019 3-star linebacker Allen Smith of Loganville, Georgia:
UNC continues to stock up on linebackers, which has long been a position of weakness for the squad. Perhaps Andre Smith’s early departure for the NFL can continue to inspire young linebackers to follow in his footsteps.
The Tar Heels also received a walk-on commitment from running back British Brooks, from Ashbrook High School in Gastonia. Brooks is a senior, so it looks like he will join the team in 2018. This will make him the second of Larry Fedora’s under-recruited running back additions from North Carolina, and given that 2-star 2018 freshman Javonte Williams is already turning heads in spring practice, the move has good precedent.
Congratulations to Ashbrook RB and @Wsoctvsports Big 22 Finalist British Brooks. He signed today to continue his academic and football career as a UNC Tar Heel @TarHeelfootball #Ashbrook proud @2teamb pic.twitter.com/xBF8pcCarV— AshbrookFootball (@AshbrookFB2017) April 12, 2018
Best of luck to both future Tar Heels!