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UNC Recruiting: IMG Academy could be a gold mine for Roy Williams

Armando Bacot has some work to do this year, on more than just his game.

Tulane v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It has been roughly two weeks since five-star verbal commit Armando Bacot announced that he was bringing his talents to Chapel Hill. Bacot’s decision was one that continues Roy Williams’ hot streak on the recruiting trail, as this will be the second five-star recruit that he has locked down in less than a year. With any streak, the question question is always the same: how long can this keep going? The answer in this case depends on a few things, but we will focus on the talent that has arrived at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL.

Every now and then, the dominoes for Roy Williams fall so perfectly that one of his commits attends school with one of his other targets. Last year, Rechon “Leaky” Black attended Cox Mill High School with 2019 target Wendell Moore. The jury is still out on whether or not Black was able to do enough to convince Moore to pick UNC, but one can imagine that Roy was highly appreciative of any recruiting that Black was able to do.

This year, the situation that has developed is one that should have Tar Heel fans playing close attention to the state of Florida. Armando Bacot, as well as 2019 targets Josh Green and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, will suit up for IMG Academy to finish out their high school careers. There is a lot of buzz about this team in the Sunshine State this year, as the trio will try and win the state championship to close out their senior year.

The secondary objective, as far as Bacot is concerned, is where his teammates will be attending school in 2019. Ever since his commitment, he has been very vocal about heavily recruiting Green and Robinson-Earl, as well as one of the best guards in the nation, Cole Anthony:

Thought that maybe he wasn’t serious? In that case, let’s see what Bacot tweeted out just last night:

Between Green and Robinson-Earl, it appears that the teammate most likely to find himself in Chapel Hill may be Josh Green. The 6’6 small forward just moved up the ranks in the latest ESPN 100, and is now considered the 8th best player in the country by their metrics. Green told Inside Carolina that he followed the Heels while growing up in Australia, and that he knows about the program and how they like to play. That never hurts a team’s chances when recruiting someone, but then again, we’ve seen similar situations before where fans decide to join up with their rivals. For a more in-depth breakdown of his game, Jake Lawrence provides great analysis in his piece about Green receiving a scholarship offer from UNC.

Then there is Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. He is a five-star power forward who is currently ranked as the 17th best player in the country according to the 247 Sports composite. He is also currently unanimously projected to play for the Kansas Jayhawks according to the 247 Sports Crystal Ball, and thus things have been quiet in Chapel Hill when it comes to his recruitment.

Despite the uncertainty of his recruitment, Robinson-Earl spoke very highly of Roy Williams and his program:

“Roy Williams is one of the most legendary coaches so to play for him would be amazing,” Robinson-Earl told Eric Bossi of Rivals upon announcing his finalists. “He coached my dad and he’s coached a lot of great players at the three, four and five. He’s had great guards, but he’s had a lot of great bigs and they are important to him. Also the tradition, it’s North Carolina... there’s not a whole lot you need to say about it.”

Robinson-Earl had a very productive summer en route to his senior season. During the Under Armor Circuit, he averaged 19.5 points and 11.4 rebounds, and followed that up with a Strong run with the USA Men’s U18 National Team. He averaged 10.7 points and 8.5 rebounds to help the team win the gold medal at the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. The USA Team was coached by none other than Kansas head coach Bill Self, which means that Robinson-Earl got to experience his coaching methods first hand. Being coached by Self prior to his commitment definitely helps Kansas if things went well, but on the flipside, Robinson-Earl also had a chance to see what he didn’t like about Self’s coaching style as well. We’ll have to wait and see which side of the coin he falls on.

So, with one commit and two targets on the same team, what can we expect to come from this situation when it comes to UNC? It’s important to note that Robinson-Earl’s recruiting process is far from over. He has stated that he doesn’t plan on committing until sometime next year, and so barring anymore surprise commitments like the ones we got from Armando Bacot and Tre Mann (who committed to Florida on Tuesday), UNC and Bacot have a chance to apply some pressure to convince the big man to make his way to Chapel Hill. As far as Josh Green is concerned, those close to the program have to already like their chances at landing the five-star wing.

In the very worst case, IMG will be a team for Tar Heel fans to follow this year simply because of Armando Bacot. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them get at least one nationally televised game this year, just as we managed to see Nassir Little, Zion Williamson, and RJ Barrett’s teams get some exposure this past season. It will be really interesting to see how the trio develops at IMG, and if Bacot can pull off his ultimate goal: getting both of his teammates to suit up in Carolina blue next November.