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UNC Recruiting: 2021 Five-star forward Paolo Banchero excludes the Heels from his top six

The first pin to get set up in the 2021 class just fell down, but we still have a long ways to go.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Roy Williams has been hitting the recruiting trail as hard as he ever has before these days, and we’ve mostly seen the fruits of his labor pay off. However, this particular situation isn’t one of those times. Yesterday 2021 five-star power forward Paolo Banchero took to Twitter to announce that he cut his list down to six teams that he wanted to focus on for the remainder of his recruitment.

Arizona, Duke, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Washington are all teams that made the cut, which means that UNC is officially out. Banchero took an official visit to Chapel Hill the same weekend of Late Night With Roy Williams this past fall, and Williams had made some visits to see him play since ethen. He was the first player to receive an offer in the 2021 class from Williams during a time when the 2020 recruiting class was still in the process of being assembled, and he is currently the fourth-best player in the country.

Here’s what Banchero had to say to 247Sports about his updated list:

“These are the main six that I want to move forward with and can see myself at any six of these schools,” Banchero told 247Sports. “I just wanted to focus in on these six and not waste the other schools times. They got other players to recruit and use resources on so wanted to cut down to these six.”

In the article by Evan Daniels, Banchero also goes on to talk about each individual school and it is almost too easy to pick up on the commonalities between all of them. With the exception of Washington (his home state’s university), every other discussion he had about a school carried the message of professional aspirations. He acknowledged Coach K, John Calipari, Sean Miller, Mark Few, and Rick Barnes as coaches that were able to develop players into great college players that went on to have great NBA careers. It’s likely that he didn’t view Carolina in the same light, and so here we are.

It is worth noting, however, that unless something changes between now and next April UNC should have have enough big men on the roster. Roy Williams has already received a commitment from another talented power forward in Dontrez Styles, so when you factor him in as well as Day’Ron Sharpe, Walker Kessler, and possibly Armando Bacot, the front court should still be fairly loaded even without Banchero. Granted, this is assuming a lot, as I don’t know what the likelihood is that three five-star bigs make it out of the 2020-21 season without considering going pro, especially when it comes to Bacot who was originally thought of as a one-and-done player. Still, the point here is that Carolina likely won’t be hurting after missing out on Banchero, and if Roy has any doubts it’s still really early in the game as far as the 2021 class is concerned.

Looking ahead, five-star point guard Kennedy Chandler will be the next player to make a list announcement, as he plans on announcing his top five today if he hasn’t already prior to this article publishing. Hopefully he will deliver better news to Heels fans, because if the NBA card is what prospects are playing in this class, I think we have a very good shot with him thanks to Coby White, Cole Anthony, and potentially Caleb Love next year. That’s a hard resume to ignore, right?