Note: I was going to re-start the UNC Hoopsbag today, until I found my inbox filled with recruiting questions. So I went to ESPN Recruiting Analyst/Guru Dave Telep to (hopefully) answer some of your questions about how the Tar Heels are doing on the recruiting trail. I chatted with him Thursday morning.
Update: After this Q&A was published , Andrew Wiggins reclassified to the Class of 2013. For Telep's story, click here.
There are lots of UNC fans who seem to be worried about UNC’s basketball recruiting, considering the Tar Heels haven’t added anyone to their 2013 list since getting verbal commitments from power forward Isaiah Hicks and point guard Nate Britt last year. So how is UNC doing recruiting-wise?
Dave Telep: It’s really a daily-temperature-reading thing. For example: say they get [ESPN.com’s 18th-ranked] Kennedy Meeks -- and they’re right in the mix to get Kennedy Meeks -- and then all of a sudden they have the top two players in North Carolina, and the two top-20 big men nationally, and then nobody would be worried. It’s like they’re a commitment away to contend. All of a sudden if you have Isaiah Hicks [rated No. 16 by ESPN.com] and Kennedy Meeks, you’re feeling pretty good about your recruiting class.
I think a lot of the frustration [from fans] probably stems from Julius Randle [ESPN.com’s third-ranked recruit] eliminating them from his list this early. I think that kind of puts you on your heels a little bit.
What does it say that Randle and Jabari Parker [ESPN.com’s top-ranked recruit] do not have UNC on their lists?
DT: First of all, with Jabari Parker, he has probably the most eclectic list I’ve seen a No. 1 player have. So not being on that one doesn’t surprise me. It was the Randle one that caught everyone off guard, because they [UNC] put a lot of time into that kid. And I think that’s where they’re probably most disappointed. And that guy has a wide variety of schools on his list, too. With two of the top three players in the country, it’s been eclectic.
Do you think that Roy Williams’ recent health scare, or the academic scandal at UNC, has affected basketball recruiting at all?
DT: I don’t think the academic scandal has had any effect on the basketball recruiting. And I don’t think that there’s been a negative effect on Roy Williams with the health scare from the recruiting standpoint. I think Coach Williams is physically pretty active in the fall, and not being out there probably bothered him as much as it did anything else. But at this point, those aren’t factors that are out there.
Hicks and Britt [currently ranked No. 50 in the ESPN.com Top 100] verbally committed to UNC a while back. How do you view them now? Have they improved since they chose the Tar Heels?
DT: Isaiah Hicks has everything Roy Williams wants in a power forward. He is just college coaching and a college weight room away from really taking it to the next step. He’s as good of a prospect as you think he is. Nate Britt has struggled to really find his game, and it’s been a bumpy road since last spring for him. I think he needs a heavy dose of self-confidence right now, because he hasn’t played to his reputation thus far. But the guy’s at Oak Hill, he’s going to play on the biggest stage in the country, it’s his final season out there, so we’ll see how it goes.
Who does UNC still have a shot at signing in the 2013 class?
DT: They’re involved with Andrew Wiggins, but it’s very rudimentary, very early; we don’t even know if he’s going to be a senior yet [the small forward is currently ranked as the top recruit in the class of 2014, but may reclassify]. So it’s hard to even put a whole lot of eggs in that basket. And you have Troy Williams [ranked No. 31 in the ESPN 100], Kennedy Meeks, legitimate options at this point -- guys where you can feel like you’re in the top two.
… [This might not] be a class that has a go-to superstar in it, but it should be a really good class. But again, with North Carolina, you’ve always got one eye on the guy who’s going to shape the direction of the program a little bit, the guy who’s going to deliver the mail. And I think, unless something changes drastically, that’s going to be more of a team effort than an individual effort.