Basketball Recruiting Update

With the early signing period beginning tomorrow (November 9 – 16), it seems like a good time to give an update on the status of recruiting by UNC and Duke.

North Carolina

Potential 2012 UNC Basketball Roster
Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Yr.
Marcus Paige 6-0 155 PG FR
Kendall Marshall 6-4 195 PG JR
Dexter Strickland 6-3 180 PG/SG SR
Luke Davis 6-0 172 PG/SG JR
Leslie McDonald 6-5 210 SG SR
P.J. Hairston 6-5.5 220 SG/SF SO
Reggie Bullock 6-7 205 SG/SF JR
Harrison Barnes 6-8 215 SF JR
J.P. Tokoto 6-6 190 SF FR
James Michael McAdoo 6-9 220 SF/PF SO
Brice Johnson 6-9 200 PF FR
Desmond Hubert 6-9.5 205 PF SO
Jackson Simmons 6-7 205 PF SO
John Henson 6-11 220 PF/C SR
Joel James 6-10 260 C FR

This isn’t the typical Roy Williams recruiting class with one or more 5 star players, but that’s no reason to ignore it. There is plenty of top-level talent and it has the potential to be a very important one for the future of the program.

Carolina currently has 12 scholarship players on the roster. Justin Watts and Tyler Zeller will exhaust their eligibility after this season and Stilman White will be taking 2 years off for his Mormon mission. Excluding any potential early exits to the NBA, that brings the scholarship count to 9 for next year, making 4 guaranteed scholarships available.

The Heels have put together a balanced class with size and athleticism to bolster an already deep roster. The key will be how many players decide to leave early for the NBA. Barnes and Henson are the likely candidates and most expect this to be their last year in college. Kendall Marshall and James Michael McAdoo are also both being discussed as high draft picks, but I anticipate getting at least one more year out of each of these players.

None of the incoming 2012 recruits are expected to come in and be dominant players as freshmen, but they will help provide much needed depth and should all grow into excellent 3-4 year players.

Marcus PaigeMarcus Paige
6’0″ – 160lbs – PG
Marion, Iowa
The biggest concern on UNC’s roster this season is PG depth. Roy Williams has addressed that well with one of the top point guards in the class, Marcus Paige. Paige is a true leader, adept at getting his teammates involved. While his passing may not be on the same level as Kendall Marshall (who’s is?), he’s certainly a “floor general” type player. He’s not as long as Marshall (6’4″) at only 6′ tall, but he’s probably a bit more athletic and has an easier time beating people off the dribble and getting to the basket. Still, his first inclination is to set up a teammate. Assuming Marshall stays for at least another year, Paige should have time to learn and develop in a backup role in his freshman season before taking over the starting job once Marshall leaves.
Site Pos Overall
Scout.com #2 #29
Rivals.com #6 #41
ESPN #1 #28
Brice Johnson
6’9″ – 200lbs – PF
Cordova, South Carolina
Johnson was the final addition to this class, but a big get for the Heels. He’s a long, athletic power forward with a knack for shot blocking and running the court. He has a quick take off and jumping ability that leads to a lot of dunks as well as a soft touch around the rim. His athleticism should fit in well in Roy William’s high speed offense. The biggest concern going in will be his size (200lbs at most) and frame. He has narrow shoulders and some wonder how much weight he will be able to add. Still his athleticism and determination should help him develop into an important player sooner than his lack of strength would suggest.
Site Pos Overall
Scout.com #9 #46
Rivals.com #15 #49
ESPN #9 #25
Joel James Joel James
6’10” – 260lbs – C
West Palm Beach, Florida
While the other commits in the 2012 class will need to add muscle to help compete at a college level, that is one concern that Joel James does not share. He isn’t your typical post-player in the Roy Williams system. He is big, very big. At 6’10” (with a reported 7’4″ wingspan) 260lbs, he’s a pure center. He’s only been playing organized ball for 2 years, so his long-term development is harder to predict, but it will depend on his ability to learn post moves and gain a scoring touch. He already has an understanding of how to use his size to seal off other players and pull down rebounds. In the short term, he should add a grittiness factor to the team and a wide-body to help on defense and rebounding.
Site Pos Overall
Scout.com #16 #70
Rivals.com #11 #61
ESPN #11 #54
J.P. TokotoJ.P. Tokoto
6’6″ – 190lbs – SF
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
If there is one thing people talk about with J.P. Tokoto, it’s his ability to dunk the basketball. His leaping ability and in-air body control are arguably better than any other wings in this class. He’s sure to fill up the highlight reels over his years in Chapel Hill with and-1 dunks, put-back jams and lob passes. His jump shot will need work, and he may never develop into a truly elite scorer, but his hustle, rebounding and defense should lead to Tokoto becoming an important 4 year player for the Heels.
Site Pos Overall
Scout.com #19 #86
Rivals.com #13 #68
ESPN #19 #65

Duke

Duke may only be bringing in one recruit in the 2012 class, but he’s certainly not one to be overlooked. With Miles Plumlee being the only senior on the roster, Coach K didn’t need to bring in many players in this class. The only potential early NBA entrant people are discussing at this point is Austin Rivers. If Rivers were to leave early, Rasheed Sulaimon would be a solid replacement to add depth to the shooting guard position.

Rasheed SulaimonRasheed Sulaimon
6’3″ – 180lbs – SG
Houston, Texas
As one of the top players in the class, Sulaimon fits the mold of a typical Duke shooting guard under Coach K. He’s a tremendous long range shooter with a quick release. That shooting ability has enabled him to put up large numbers on the AAU circuit. He will need to continue to develop his ball handling and his strength, but his shooting will allow him to contribute early should Duke need him to. If you’re looking for a player comparison, think of a slightly more aggressive/athletic Seth Curry (at least at this age).
Site Pos Overall
Scout.com #1 #10
Rivals.com #5 #32
ESPN #3 #12

About William

William is a life-long Tar Heel, UNC alumnus and the developer of this website. You can follow him on twitter @wearnhardt.
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