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UNC Recruiting: Recapping the first week of the New Year

Zion Williamson is ready to make his decision.

High School Basketball: Zion Williamson Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Football

Big news hit the UNC football team recently when junior linebacker Andre Smith announced that he plans to forgo his remaining days at UNC and enter the NFL Draft. Smith was off to a hot start this year before suffering a season-ending knee injury during the loss to Louisville back in September. He finished his career with 182 tackles, two sacks, and two interceptions.

Smith’s early exit leaves a huge hole in UNC’s defense, and former four-star commit Payton Wilson deciding to take his talents to Raleigh only exacerbates the situation. The good news, however, is that Smith’s departure opens the door even wider for four-star target Dax Hollifield. His list is cut down to three schools, and following his visit to Stanford this month he plans on making his decision.

UNC has been making a strong push for Hollifield, and he has been told by their staff that he is their top target. Should the Heels manage to land Hollifield, they will have somewhat repaired the damage that was done when Tyler Shough and Payton Wilson de-committed.

Speaking of damage, news broke this week that there is a small chance that more damage might be done to the 2018 recruiting class. Recent UNC signee Jordyn Adams is currently signed with the school to play both football and baseball, with a lot of excitement coming from both programs for his arrival. While the ink has had plenty of time to dry on his commitment, there is one problem: Major League Baseball.

As many that follow baseball know, high school prospects can forgo their college career and immediately go into the MLB Draft as opposed to the NFL rules where you have to go to college before they are eligible to declare. With that option available and the hype surrounding the Cary sports star, Adams stated that the possibility of going into the MLB Draft does exist for him.

What is important to note here is that he still does want to play UNC football and baseball, but he and his family are working with advisors to explore his options with the MLB. Until anymore information breaks, UNC fans should expect to see Adams suit up in Carolina blue very soon.

Basketball

Five-star 2018 recruit Zion Williamson announced earlier this week that he will not take the Kevin Knox approach to his decision and will announce which school he will be attending on January 20th. Williamson failed to make a decision by the deadline for the first signing period, and so it was unclear up to this point on whether or not he would make an announcement soon or if he would wait until the spring or later to make his decision.

The interesting turn that Williamson’s recruitment has taken, is that there is a lot of buzz that Clemson has become a front-runner to land the Spartanburg-native after Kentucky had been widely considered as the favorite for the better part of his recruitment.

Yesterday 247 Sports updated their Crystal Ball predictions and gave Clemson a commanding lead in the race for Williamson. His parents are both alums of the school, and it sounds like Williamson is more comfortable with staying closer to home than he would be attending school elsewhere.

What should give UNC fans a little bit of hope is that attending school in Chapel Hill wouldn’t be the biggest trek should Williamson decide that Clemson isn’t for him. Realistically though, with Cameron Johnson having one year of eligibility remaining and fellow five-star small forward Nassir Little already signing with UNC, Zion wouldn’t have as much guaranteed playing time as he would at Clemson. While UNC would be guaranteed to play against Williamson if he signs with the Tigers, a Little vs. Williamson battle would be a lot of fun to see.