In the last week of the recruiting dead period, UNC has had two significant pieces of news regarding the wrap-up of the team’s 2018 class.
The first has already been covered on this website, but just in case you missed it, there has been at least some contact between UNC’s coaching staff and 5-star power forward Jordan Brown. Brown was, along with Nassir Little, one of the most impressive players at the McDonald’s All-American Game, though it’s worth noting that ESPN’s Jonathan Givony thought he had a poor week in practice. Brown does not have the court-stretching ability that UNC’s other remaining target, E.J. Montgomery, has, but he is a very polished post scorer with explosive athleticism around the basket. He quite nicely fits the profile of a classic UNC “4,” in the mold of Isaiah Hicks or John Henson, and would be a welcome addition to a class that is incredibly, but admittedly backcourt-heavy.
The second point of interest regards Montgomery. According to Adam Zagoria, Montgomery has planned home visits with UNC and Kentucky next week. Conspicuously absent from this list is Duke, who had been considered the leader for Montgomery’s services since his de-comittment from Auburn. It’s fair to guess that Jason Capel’s departure from Duke has cooled interest in one direction or the other, perhaps both, as Capel was Montgomery’s lead recruiter from Duke. Of course, as UNC fans know too well, a recruiting battle with John Calipari is still far from a done deal; just ask those who followed the recruitment of a certain 2017 wing. Regardless, let’s hope Roy Williams can work his magic and show Montgomery everything he’d have to gain as a Tar Heel.
Other news concerning UNC’s basketball program includes some comments made by former UNC target Romeo Langford last week regarding his recruitment process. As relayed by his father, Langford said this:
Romeo pointed to something, which Tim didn’t disclose, that he didn’t like when he watched coach Roy Williams run his Tar Heels through practice. “He said, ‘Dad, I’m not sure about that and me fitting in with this happening,’” [Mr. Montgomery] said.
Before anybody overreacts to this (who am I kidding), let’s note that this could be literally anything. It’s very easy to paint this as an elite prospect looking for a college experience as easy as possible and being put off by Williams’ intensity, but in order to be an elite prospect, one almost has to be an elite competitor. I think it’s extraordinarily unlikely that Langford was turned off by competition in practice; it’s much more likely in my opinion that he sensed a personality clash. Maybe he’s looking for a more businesslike approach to basketball and thought the family atmosphere at UNC was not how he wanted to approach his future career. Or it could be something else. Speculation is pointless, but since we all do it anyway, I can only encourage you to not speculate in such a way that either paints Williams as a bad recruiter of elite talent (I mean, look at the incoming class) or Langford as entitled, whiny, or unwilling to work. He’s clearly worked his tail off to get where he is already. Also, he was much less forgiving of Calipari than of Williams, for the record. Take a look at this:
Romeo Langford entered the timeout huddle, his team down big, and the impression he got was that his coach wasn’t in control.
This was during a tournament last summer, and Langford, one of the nation’s top recruits, was playing for the USA’s under-19 squad.
His coach was Kentucky’s John Calipari.
Romeo later told his father, Tim Langford, that Calipari “couldn’t adapt to what was going on against Canada,” Tim said.
I mean, geez. Taking all this in combination with Langford’s rhetorical “Who wouldn’t want to go to North Carolina?” at the McDonald’s game, I think we can safely say he still has high regard for Williams and UNC.
Finally, Roy Williams was in Texas last week to take a look at one of 2019’s top centers, Will Baker, as well as four-star SF/PF Jalen Wilson, both of whom Williams has showed significant interest in for months now. He has not yet offered Wilson, as far as we know, but it’s likely coming soon. This weekend, he is going to visit one of the best players in the 2019 class, SF/PF Matthew Hurt. Hurt will also host Duke and Kentucky this weekend, which should give him a lot to think about.
UNC hosted several 2019 prospects for its Pro Day this week. The coaching staff also continues to add offers, the most notable one this week being for 4-star athlete Dawson Ellington. Amusingly, Ellington had an offer from Alabama before he did from UNC. While this is partly a function of location (he’s from Georgia), it’s funny nonetheless. Keep an eye on Inside Carolina writer Don Callahan’s Twitter feed if you want to keep track of all of UNC’s offers, and we will update you with significant news as we get it.