On August 11, a recruit from the class of 2019 verbally committed to being a North Carolina Tar Heel. Jeremiah Francis is a point guard ranked 60th in his class by ESPN (as well as 11th in his position), and 61st by 247sports (7th PG). He’s a high school junior for the 2017-18 school year, and will be coming to Carolina in the fall of 2019. What should you know about this player, who is over two years away from suiting up for the Tar Heels?
He’s the Heels’ first recruit in the class of 2019
UNC hopes Francis will be the first of many recruits to come to Carolina in 2019. Recruiting prospects so far in advance (and committing so soon as a prospect) is a test of good faith, with some luck thrown in there. Any player can suffer an injury at any time. Roy Williams turned 67 earlier this month. He will probably still be with Carolina in 2019, but that’s the thing with stuff so far in the future: you have to use that pesky word “probably.”
Francis’s decision will hopefully have an effect on other top-tier 2019 prospects UNC is interested in, such as North Carolina natives Josh Nickelberry and Wendell Moore, and the frontcourt stud James Wiseman, among others.
He has a teammate already at UNC
Sterling Manley is an incoming freshman with very big shoes to fill. Manley is also a graduate of Pickerington Central High School in Ohio, which is where Francis will be a junior this year. In fact, it was at a visit to watch Manley that Roy Williams and assistant coach Steve Robinson first took an interest in Francis, who chose that game to drop 25 points, five assists, and five steals, per Inside Carolina. The recruiting process unfolded pretty quickly after that, helped along by the fact that his mother is a North Carolina native, even though she attended Ohio State (hold that thought). Francis committed only about a week after the initial scholarship offer on August 2.
He is a pretty big out-of-state scoop
Most recruiting sites rank Francis as either the first or second-best player in his classification in the state of Ohio. Francis had offers from Ohio schools like Ohio University, Ohio State, and Dayton. That he said no to Ohio State is a bit of a shock. Both his parents went there, and his father actually played for the Buckeyes! Of course, since the commitment is only a verbal one, things can change in the next couple of years, but Ohio State probably pushed hard for him and didn’t get him.
His basketball comparison: Ty Lawson
Lawson’s accolades in Carolina don’t need to be recounted here, but both UNC coaches and Francis’ high school coach agree that the speedy point guard who helped bring the 2009 national championship to Carolina is a good comparison. Francis is already a bit taller than Ty, measuring in at six-foot-one (with time to grow still), whereas Ty is five-foot-eleven. Lawson also played at the basketball factory Oak Hill Academy in Virginia (notable alums include Carmelo Anthony, Jerry Stackhouse, Rajon Rondo, and several others), where he averaged 23.8 points, 9.1 assists and 5 steals his senior year (Francis averaged 15.9 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.7 rebounds his sophomore year). Jeremiah, if you’re reading this, now you know what numbers to shoot for!
He will be a good fit at UNC when he arrives
Players that will definitely be gone when Francis arrives include seniors Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson, as well as junior Kenny Williams. Players who may or may not still be around include sophomores Seventh Woods and Brandon Robinson (notably both guards) and incoming freshman Jalek Felton (who plays shooting guard primarily).
A player who isn’t even at UNC yet is 2018 commit and point guard Coby White, who would still be on the roster if he elects not to be a one-and-done, although there’s honestly no telling what the NBA eligibility rules will be in the near future.
Regardless, unless Woods and Robinson exhaust their eligibility and White sticks around for a few years, Francis will be able to see a lot of time leading the second unit off the bench in his first year in Chapel Hill. Perhaps he’ll even be able to team up with his old high school teammate again!