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UNC Recruiting: Checking in on the class of 2019

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UNC has one commitment for the class of 2019. They're hoping to land a few of the these guys to complete their class.

Kentucky v North Carolina Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Earlier this week, Brandon Anderson took a look at the overall recruiting landscape for 2019 and 2020. Instead of focusing on UNC’s current targets and scholarship offers, it provided an overview of how UNC could be affected by various changes within college basketball. I highly recommend you take a gander.

Today, I’ll specifically examine the 2019 class and the players that currently hold offers from UNC. Not to be confused with our weekly recruiting recap, the following paragraphs will look at where certain players are in their recruitment, and what that may mean for UNC. Keep in mind, the Tar Heel Blog staff expects there to be five scholarships available for the 2019 season. So far, only one of those spots are spoken for.

Point Guard

Jeremiah Francis — 6’3, 190
High School: Pickering Central High School/Pickerington, Ohio
ESPN60 Rank: NR
Rivals: 75th
247 Composite: 123rd

Francis committed to the Heels late last summer. After receiving an offer in early August, he waited seven days before ending his recruitment. It was a major pickup for Point Guard University as Francis was considered a top 5 PG in the nation. However, a knee injury forced him to miss his junior year and the summer AAU circuits. That forced him to drop in some recruiting circles. Out of sight, out of mind.

This week it was reported that a setback and another surgery on the same knee will force him to miss his senior season. Despite the bad luck, UNC still plans on welcoming him to campus next year. He may take some time to get fully healthy (much like his former high school teammate Sterling Manley), but right now there is no indication that Francis won’t or can’t return to his high level of play. He was, and still is, a critical part of this recruiting class.

Cole Anthony — 6’3, 184
High School: Oak Hill Academy
ESPN 100: 3rd
Rivals: 2nd
247 Composite: 3rd

With the ability to play either guard position, Anthony will have an immediate impact the moment he steps onto a college campus. Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton are the last two UNC point guards who were of a comparable talent level and Anthony is probably even better than those two. Cole’s recruitment has been cloaked in secrecy so details have been few and far between. To see him in action, check out some highlights here. Simply put, there may not be bigger 2019 priority for Roy Williams than Cole Anthony, who is expected to announce in the spring.

Cole, whose father Greg Anthony played at UNLV in the early 90’s, has targeted the spring for his decision. That didn’t stop him recently from unofficially visiting two ACC schools. After attending the Chris Paul Elite Guard Camp at Wake Forest, Anthony made the drive across I-40 and got acquainted with Chapel Hill. If you’re into recruiting conspiracy theories....the other school on Tobacco Road reportedly did not get a visit.

Tre Mann — 6’4, 170
High School: High School Villages Charter School (The Villages, FL)
ESPN 100: 43rd
Rivals: 30th
247 Composite: 33rd

There’s not a lot to add about Mann that we didn’t mention last week when he received his offer. He’s primarily been recruited as a point guard, but a growth spurt has seen him grow from 6’1 to 6’4. That extra height has also made him into a threat at the shooting guard position. Versatility is necessary in today’s college game and Mann would provide some long-term security at both guard positions.

He also recently announced that UNC will get one of his remaining three official visits. Mann will be on hand when the North Carolina football team welcomes the defending national champion University of Central Florida Knights to Kenan Memorial. Tennessee, Florida, and Kansas are considered to be in the hunt as well.

Shooting Guard

Josh Green — 6’6, 190
High School: IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
ESPN 100: 8th
Rivals: 11th
247 Composite: 10th

Like Mann, Green received an offer from UNC after the July evaluation period. He’s listed here as a shooting guard, but could just as easily slide down to a small forward position. What is not disputable is his athleticism and ability to get to the basket.

Originally from Australia, Green has stated that he grew up watching and cheering for UNC. Now the Heels will wait and see if he wants to play in the Dean Dome on a daily basis. His parents currently reside in Arizona, so it may be difficult to keep him on the East Coast. For what it’s worth, Green has indicated that location is not a major factor in his decision.

Small Forward

Wendell Moore 6’5, 210
High School: IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
ESPN 100: 19th
Rivals: 26th
247 Composite: 21st

Moore would be the perfect hardnosed, strong, athletic wing to bring an enforcer-style mentality to the UNC lineup. More of a transition scorer and slasher, his outside game continues to be a focus for improvement. The former teammate of Tar Heel freshman Rechon Black, he was once thought to have been close to committing to the Heels.

A late scholarship offer from Duke changed that plan and since then the recruitment had seemingly cooled off. However, a recent announcement that Moore will take an official visit to Late Night With Roy is just the latest odd development in this on-again/off-again relationship.

Keion Brooks 6’7, 200
High School: La Lumiere School (Fort Wayne, IN)
ESPN 100: 26th
Rivals: 15th
247 Composite: 15th

As Brooks keeps growing, he could potentially develop into a multi-positional player who finds minutes at both the “3” and “4” spots. Brooks picked up his offer before the summer circuit. That was fortuitous as an injury limited him in July. His recruitment with UNC has been relatively quiet since the summer started. It will be difficult to lure him away from the Midwest, as it seems Michigan State and Indiana have the inside track.

Power Forward

Matthew Hurt 6’9, 215
High School: John Marshall Senior (Rochester, MN)
ESPN 100: 6th
Rivals: 5th
247 Composite: 6th

One of the premier big men in the class, Hurt can play both inside and outside. The coaching staff has been chasing Hurt for a couple of years now, but it’s difficult to get a read on the situation. Certainly nobody has recruited Hurt harder than UNC, but with so many other blue bloods between Minnesota and North Carolina, it’s going to be difficult to reach the top of Hurt’s list.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 6’9, 235
High School: IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
ESPN 100: 27th
Rivals: 9th
247 Composite: 18th

Robinson-Earl will transfer to IMG Academy for his senior season. Roy Williams is already familiar with the family, as Robinson-Earl’s dad played for Williams at Kansas. After offering a scholarship in the spring, the UNC coaching staff has made a the versatile forward a priority.

Another guy capable of playing inside or outside the paint, Robinson-Earl would be an interesting addition to the roster. UNC has not been able to land many stretch-4/hybrid forwards in the past, which is odd considering the success they have in UNC’s system(Jawad Williams, Marvin Williams, and Luke Maye). Truthfully, of the two power forward’s, Robinson-Earl is the most likely to commit to UNC. If he does not, then Kansas (understandably) is expected to be the culprit.

Center

Will Baker 7’0, 240
High School: Westlake High School (Austin, TX)
ESPN 100: 19th
Rivals: 28th
247 Composite: 25th

A true seven-footer with the ability to hit the open jumper, Baker would be the perfect 3-4 year player in UNC’s traditional post-centric system. In a fast evolving game, a player with Baker’s more conventional skill-set would be a joy to watch on soon-to-be-named Roy Williams Court. However, after initially receiving an offer, this recruitment hasn’t quite taken off. UCLA is the expected front runner due to it’s film school and academic options.

Armando Bacot 6’10, 235
High School: IMG Academy (Bradenton,FL)
ESPN 100: 21st
Rivals: 21st
247 Composite: 26th

Bacot has inarguably been UNC’s main priority at center. He has made multiple unofficial visits to UNC over the past 18 months, and recently released his final five schools. North Carolina made the cut, along with Duke, VCU, Georgia, and Oklahoma State. It will be a surprise if he selects anyone other than Duke or North Carolina.

We can debate the merits about why a true center should go to UNC over Duke until we are blue in the face, but the bottom line is that UNC has not won many recruiting battles against Duke in the past few years. Bacot is currently just outside the top-tier of “elite” players in his class, and thus the perfect candidate to grow and develop under Roy’s guidance.

One additional benefit may be his new IMG teammates. Bacot, like Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, is transferring to IMG for his senior season. Josh Green will also be there. The “IMG 3” will be receiving plenty of attention from the UNC coaches over the next year.

Final Thoughts

There are a few other players who are holding offers from UNC, but aren’t considered serious options for UNC. The top two players in the class of 2019, Vernon Carey Jr (C/PF) and James Wiseman (C/PF), are not likely to commit to the Heels. Shooting guard Josh Nickelberry has already committed to Louisville. Thus, no reason to list them.

As stated in the beginning, there are at least five vacancies that should open up for the 2019 season. Cameron Johnson, Luke Maye, and Kenny WIlliams will graduate. Nassir Little is currently projected to be a top-3 pick in the NBA Draft. The fifth scholarship has continued to roll over for three years to Shea Rush, who came to UNC as a preferred walk-on. As the coaching staff has done in the past, they give any leftover scholarships to walk-on players.

Only Jeremiah Francis has committed, leaving four scholarships available. (Some will say that Coby White could be an OAD and open up a sixth roster spot. Those people are right. He could be. The majority of the THB staff does not think that is a likely outcome at this point in time).

In previous years, the coaching staff has been much more liberal with their scholarship offers after the summer evaluation periods. Yet, there have only been two offers since the conclusion of the July events. Additionally, there are really only two scholarships offered per position, and North Carolina is considered a long shot for some of those listed. It creates an interesting dynamic heading into the fall.

From the outside looking in, this has the appearance of being a boom-or-bust class. If the Heels were to land Jeremiah Francis, Cole Anthony, Tre Mann and any two of the IMG teammates, the Heels would challenge for a top-3 recruiting class in the country. Yet, (purely hypothetically) they could just as easily come up short and end up with Francis, one (or none) of the IMG products, and be scrambling for graduate transfer(s) next April.

Go ahead and have fun picking your own preferred class for 2019. With so much dependent on how certain players develop this season, it’s impossible to determine how most of these recruits would fit into next year’s roster. The only constant is that the staff has put a premium on perimeter talent — even with the “power” forwards.

Whatever happens, at a minimum, most of these players will take official visits to UNC this fall. The past few years, recruits weren’t even doing that. As Roy has said before, if recruits will just visit UNC, then the coaching staff feels pretty good about landing them.

This will be the first high-volume recruiting class that puts that theory to the test.