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UNC among most likely candidates named to overtake Duke and Kentucky in recruiting

With the NCAA cloud gone, the Tar Heels are once again reeling in top talent.

Florida State v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It’s no secret that Duke and Kentucky have dominated the college basketball recruiting scene for quite some time now. One of the two schools has attained the top class in the country in 12 of the past 13 seasons, with Memphis in 2019 being the only team in that time period to outpace both of them. Moreover, the blue blood programs finished in the top two every year from 2014-2018.

CBS sports recently debated over which team outside of Duke and Kentucky will be the next one to acquire the top-ranked recruiting class. UNC was the first to be mentioned, with Gary Parrish citing the Tar Heels’ storied history, Hall of Fame coach, and escape from the NCAA cloud as reasons for optimism. Although it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for Carolina to be on this list, it does raise the question of whether or not the Heels are officially “back”.

When Roy Williams initially returned to Chapel Hill in 2003, he had little trouble securing the top prospects. It was the NCAA’s years-long investigation into the program that ultimately amounted to nothing that had the biggest impact on recruiting. Ever since it was announced in October of 2018 that UNC would not be receiving any sort of sanctions, there has been a renewed interest in the program.

The incoming class of 2020 marks the third straight year in which Carolina has signed at least two five-stars. That’s the first time that has ever happened in the Williams era. The 2020 group is also responsible for the Heels’ first top-two recruiting finish since 2009.

Needless to say, things have really picked up on the recruiting trail. With that being said, it might be about time to start putting UNC back in those conversations alongside Duke and Kentucky as a recruiting juggernaut. Williams has long been vocal about how difficult it was to get top-rated players to even give him the time of day. What we are seeing now is an elite coach at an elite program recruit accordingly. Even with the guys that they’ve failed to secure a commitment from, there’s now a level of respect for the program and the coaches that wasn’t quite where it should’ve been in years past.

Carolina currently has just one commit for the 2021 class, Dontrez Styles, a four-star from Kinston, North Carolina. However, the team already has its foot in the door with a handful of big-time prospects (Paolo Banchero, Kennedy Chandler, Harrison Ingram, to name a few). There’s still a lot left to be done with this class, but it’s safe to assume that when it’s all said and done, Williams will have himself yet another high-rated group.