Refer to the image below. Examine every face in that picture. Do you see anyone who wishes they were at home? Do you see any annoyance or grumpiness? Do you see a trace of a frown or a furrowed brow or an eye roll?
You only see smiles. You see Rechon Black’s teammates clutching him in uncontrollable delight, a man behind him raising a fist in victory, a myriad of phones aimed from above that try, in vain, to capture this ephemeral scene of joy. And no smile is larger than Black’s himself, clad in that Carolina blue ball cap.
This photograph was taken the night he announced his commitment to UNC, and perhaps no other photograph could better encapsulate the person who is Rechon Black.
On the hardwood, he’s a baller. The six-foot-seven (and counting) point-guard-turned-small-forward already has an impressive offensive arsenal. He regularly leaves hapless defenders spinning out of their shoes, either driving to the bucket or pulling up for an open jumper. He excels in transition, those long strides of his propelling him past opponents for easy dunks—and make no mistake, Black has both the hops and the length to throw down some nasty jams.
Combined with the vision and height to spot open teammates, as well as his notoriety for vicious chase down blocks, it’s obvious that his moniker ‘Leaky’ is well deserved. You should be very excited to see Leaky play in 2018 and beyond. But that’s not the only reason you should be excited about him.
If you were at the Duke game, you shared the building with Rechon Black. He was sitting in a cushioned, fold out chair before the risers, court side. With him were incoming freshman Jalek Felton and prized 2018 recruits Jarius Hamilton and Zion Williamson. I watched them for the majority of pregame. Black, with that infectious smile of his, dapped them all and had them laughing up until tipoff.
Of course, UNC won. The 90-83 victory that night was monumental to the 2017 season, and as joyous a night it was, perhaps nothing was more joyous than the smiles on their faces. Rechon Black wasn’t just trying to entice them to come to Chapel Hill, he was hanging out with his friends as we all collectively marveled at the greatest spectacle in college basketball.
On this Twitter feed, there is not a single parcel of negativity to be found. It’s all love, all support—heck, he’s even given a shoutout to Harry Giles. That’s worthy of profuse admiration in and of itself, not to mention all the shoutouts he’s given to his other friends signing with different schools.
Black is a well spoken, confident guy, answering every question in interviews with seamless ease, all the while still flashing that charismatic, contagious smile. Just check this out:
Poise under a microphone is a tough thing to do at any age, let alone 17, but Black excels. He will be a fine ambassador for the program; having such articulate and intelligent young men on the team has been a point of pride for Carolina basketball for many, many years.
The prevailing comparison to Black is Theo Pinson. That sounds about right, with Black not quite as athletic but possessing a more sound offensive repertoire. But perhaps Black’s biggest resemblance to Pinson is in their personalities. Theo Pinson has the appropriate reputation of being a ‘spark,’ delivering crucial buckets against the likes of Florida State and Kentucky to ignite his team.
His skill, which is by all means world class, is not what makes him a spark. It is his mentality, his positivity. He seems to be happy all the time—a lil’ nut, as Ol’ Roy would put it—and when UNC is struggling, Pinson will believe, and he will make his teammates believe, because that’s just the kind of person he is. People like Theo Pinson are far too rare—Black is like that, too. They both really, really love life and, thus, Carolina basketball. That’s what you should be most excited for.
Scroll back up and look at that tweet. Appreciate how delighted everyone is—it’s really something, isn’t it? That picture captured one of the best moments of Rechon Black’s young life. Sure, it’s going to be great seeing him swat away layups and drain three pointers, but that’s not what makes Carolina basketball so special. It’s the great, big family that sets the Tar Heels apart—everyone just seems to like each other here. And we are going to really like Rechon Black.