2019 five-star prospect Wendell Moore has been on UNC’s radar for what seems like an eternity. The Cox Mill star was offered by Roy Williams way back in 2016, which feels like a really long time considering that since then UNC has won a national championship, finally found their way out of the NCAA investigation, there’s a new FBI investigation probing various schools, Rick Pitino was fired, and well, I could do this all day. The point is, Roy Williams has made Wendell Moore one of the top priorities for the 2019 recruiting class, only to have every major Carolina school enter the picture and create what is a very unclear situation in terms of where Moore will end up.
Earlier this month when Wendell Moore announced his top five, I mentioned that Duke is the biggest wrench in what was otherwise a rather sound plan for UNC to land the young star. Duke was the team that Wendell Moore followed as a kid, and so their offer tilted the scales heavily in the 247 Sports Crystal Ball predictions in favor of the Blue Devils. I also mentioned that Moore could and would’ve easily committed to Duke if he felt like he was destined to wear the wrong color of blue for his college career, and it is apparent that he is being meticulous in his recruiting process and making sure that he makes the right decision. So meticulous, in fact, that Moore stated in an interview with Tar Heel Illustrated that he does not plan on announcing his commitment until after he’s taken all five of his official visits.
During the same interview, Wendell Moore also discussed UNC and and his relationship with Roy Williams and Assistant Coach Steve Robinson:
I talk to them a lot. They are constantly calling me and checking to see how I’m doing and things like that, something I can do better and what I’m doing good at. I like how he’s coaching me already even before I (make) a commitment to anybody yet. He’s still trying to get out there and coach me. He’s at all of my games, so we have a great relationship there.
Another school that has been after Moore is NC State, a school that is coming off of the heels of their first season under Kevin Keatts. The Wolfpack have been targeted by the FBI for a payment of $40,000 made to current Dallas Mavericks player Dennis Smith Jr., which creates a lot of questions as to what they can expect to happen down the pipeline in terms of repercussions. As of right now, however, it doesn’t seem like this has an impact on Wendell Moore’s recruiting process when considering State as a viable option. Moore spoke with the News and Observer about what State’s coaches have been pitching to him:
“(N.C. State coaches) tell me that all the time,” Moore said Saturday at the Josh Level Classic in Greensboro. “The situation is kind of past them because they are a new coaching staff. Obviously they have a certain (amount) of accountability because of the school itself, but the basketball program should be fine, they say.”
Kevin Keatts and his staff are not speaking out of turn when they tell Moore he has little to nothing to worry about — the FBI investigation is still in progress, and the NCAA is 100% unable to lay down any punishments or make any changes to the league or the teams involved in paying players until the investigation is complete. However, it will be very interesting to see a top recruit commit to the Wolfpack after players hesitated to play for UNC during the academic investigation. The big difference between the academic scandal and the FBI investigation is that members of local and national media don’t understand why the FBI is involved in any of this at all, which is funny considering the fact that they all felt like they knew the NCAA rules well enough to say that UNC was going to get the death penalty. We obviously know what happened with that, but I digress.
Should Wendell Moore decide to commit to UNC it will be a crucial step in the program getting back on track to land top recruits following the NCAA investigation. 2018 signee Nassir Little was a huge step in the right direction, and Moore could further help maintain the momentum that Roy Williams and his staff have built. There’s a strong chance that Moore won’t make a decision until the end of this year at the earliest, but when he does, everyone in the Triangle and beyond will be locked in to see which school he plans on taking his talents to.