UNC basketball officially has its third recruit locked down for the 2020 cycle. Just over a week after completing his official visit to UNC, point guard Caleb Love has verbally committed to play for Roy Williams and the Tar Heels. Following Walker Kessler’s recent announcement, UNC is now riding a much anticipated wave of recruiting momentum in what is shaping up to be a promising recruiting class. Following this past weekend’s big-time event that included such targets as Cade Cunningham, Ziaire Williams and Greg Brown, excitement about recruiting is rampant among the fan base. Love’s announcement came via video from his high school this evening.
Love, who plays high school ball in St. Louis, Missouri, officially visited UNC two weekends ago from Sept. 20-22. He took in the UNC-App State football contest with Kessler. He did not commit on that visit, instead deciding initially to take all his official visits. Soon after that, though, he cancelled his remaining visits to Louisville and Kansas, announcing that he’d be making a decision on October 1st (that’s today) between UNC and hometown Missouri.
At 6’3 and 180 pounds, Love can slide in at either the point or shooting guard position in UNC’s offense. A consensus five-star point guard, Love is ranked as the #21 overall recruit by Rivals, #23 by 247 Sports, and #24 by ESPN. For comparison, that’s slightly higher than Coby White after White’s senior year. Check out these highlights of the newest Tar Heel.
Evaluated as a score-first point guard, Love’s tight handles, above-average decision making, and ability get into the paint make him an intriguing option to take over the point if Cole Anthony leaves for the NBA. Though not an explosive above-the-rim athlete, Love is a smooth finisher at the hoop. There are valid questions about Love’s ability to run a team, especially at the college level, but this past summer he began to show the improvement and maturity needed to grow into the role.
According to D1Circuit.com, in 20 games on the 2019 AAU Nike EBYL circuit playing for Bradley Beal Elite, Love averaged 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game. That’s a solid stat line for a burgeoning college point guard. Of course, AAU ball isn’t exactly comparable to the demands of UNC’s system, but he’ll continue to develop those tangible and intangible point guard skills during his senior season.
However, his score-first mentality and ability to attack and finish at the rim could also make him a perfect secondary ballhandler in UNC’s system. On that same EYBL circuit, he shot 40.1% from the floor and 78.1% from the foul line, but just 29.0% from behind the arc. Some of those struggles were a byproduct of Love’s propensity to force offense. If Love can improve his efficiency, there are also minutes at shooting guard as both Christian Keeling and Brandon Robinson will depart via graduation.
Regardless where Love ultimately plays for the Heels, North Carolina is at its best when they have attacking scorers who relish an open court transition game, aren’t afraid of contact and can finish at the rim. Love fits that mold. With the availability of at least five scholarships available next year, that attitude will be a welcome addition to next year’s team.
Love is the Heels’ third commit for the 2020 class, joining centers Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler. All three are consensus five-star recruits, but Love is the first perimeter player to commit in this cycle. That’s helpful because that is where most of UNC’s upcoming departures currently play. The last time UNC had at least three five-star recruits in a single class was 2014 with Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson, and Joel Berry. With five-star targets like Cunningham, Brown, and Williams still available and fresh off a visit to UNC’s biggest preseason weekend, the Heels will obviously continue to try and fill those known losses in the coming months.