When Hubert Davis was hired shortly after the retirement of Roy Williams, he made it known that Carolina was still going to be a factor nationally on the recruiting trail. Many pundits and even Tar Heel fans hadn’t been too pleased with the success UNC was having in recruiting, despite having five one-and-done players since the 2017 national championship season, including the nation’s second, ranked recruiting class just last season. Davis isn’t afraid to recruit one-and-done talent, as long as they are “Carolina guys” but also knows the importance of having multi-year players in his program. Since the one and done age of college basketball only two teams (Kentucky in 2012 & Duke in 2015), have cut down the nets the first Monday in April, which begs to argue why programs are still using that model to try and win national championships because isn’t that what you play for? As important as recruiting is in any given year, it’s even more important when you have a new head coach, and a new staff like there is in Chapel Hill. When Davis was hired, recruiting was still in a dead period, limiting contact and visits with potential recruits for next season. That dead period officially ended as of 12:00 AM this morning, and with that one of the biggest recruiting stretches in the modern history of Carolina Basketball is officially upon us.
There’s always been the notion that Carolina sells itself on the recruiting trail, and we’re about to find out just how true that is. While there is a lot of excitement about what the Tar Heels will look like under Hubert Davis, there is also a lot of unknown as well. We know how important he was to the recruiting success that the program experienced when he joined the staff in 2011, but that was with Roy Williams still coaching the Tar Heels. How is that going to change with Williams now enjoying golfing, and watching his grandkids play t-ball and dance? We’re about to find out.
Back in 2019, UNC secured the commits of then coveted transfers in Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce, in large part because once they arrived in Chapel Hill they were able to sell them on everything that comes with being a Tar Heel. Last year while the Tar Heels had wrapped up their recruiting by the time the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt, they didn’t have the ability to sell the same kids they are still recruiting today. Chapel Hill in the hot summer months is as beautiful as it is during the fall, and having former players that are current or former professionals to play pickup with is a great selling tool, for even today’s younger players. Of his recently named staff, the two names that grab your attention in regards to recruiting are Sean May and Brad Frederick, holdovers from Roy Williams's last staff. Both are going to be very important in the coming weeks, as the Tar Heels will look to make their mark, and let the college basketball world know that they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
In June alone, Carolina is going to have seven potential players on campus for visits, headlined by uber-talented point guard Jaden Bradley. That number was supposed to be eight, before in-state prospect, De’Ante Green pushed his visit back to August. We’re going to have more coverage of these visits, but let’s take a look at each player that’ll be on campus this month:
The coveted five-star point guard, while visit UNC starting on June 15. Bradley has stayed in contact with UNC since the coaching change took place, and Hubert Davis reaffirmed his offer. His visit will allow him to continue developing a relationship with the new head coach of Carolina and the staff as a whole. Guard play is going to be the driving force of the program under the new head coach, which will allow Davis to sell Bradley on his vision for him in a Tar Heel uniform. Davis’ desire to play with multiple point guards could come to fruition as there is no guarantee that either Caleb Love or R.J. Davis will be NBA-ready after their sophomore seasons. In terms of making a splash, and a name for himself as a premier recruiter, Bradley will be the player UNC recruits the hardest while he’s on campus.
We broke down Trimble after he was offered back in May, and if there is a guy that could commit before he even leaves campus, Trimble is a likely candidate. His older brother J.P. Tokoto played at UNC for three seasons and was coached by Hubert Davis, so there is already an established relationship within that family. Speaking of family, we know how important the program is to the program, which is embodied by Hubert Davis every time he talks about the program. Trimble will make his way to Chapel Hill on June 16th, which will coincide with Jaden Bradley's visits, after he visits both Marquette and Michigan.
The 6-10 power forward will be in Chapel Hill from June 27th-29th. This comes after being offered a scholarship back in April, shortly after Hubert Davis was hired as the head coach of the Tar Heels. June will be busy for Traudt as before he makes his way to UNC, he’ll visit Michigan State, Nebraska, and ACC foe Virginia. Front court depth is an issue for the Tar Heels at the moment, after losing four players to the transfer portal, and Day’Ron Sharpe off to the NBA. Moving forward, Davis wants his post players to be able to stretch the floor, and make outside shots, and Traudt can certainly do just that. Brady Manek, a transfer from Oklahoma, will give a glimpse of what Davis wants moving forward, and if he succeeds, it’ll be easier to convince guys like Traudt to join the UNC program.
One of the first visitors to Chapel Hill will be another big man, Dereck Lively who will be on campus, June 8th. Three weeks after his visit with the Tar Heels, Lively will be back on Tobacco Road, when he visits Duke, bringing Hubert Davis to his first recruiting battle with the Blue Devils and Coach K specifically. Lively is a 7-0 big man, with an upside as high as any post player in this recruiting cycle. Like Traudt, Lively has the ability to step out behind the three point line and make three pointers, while also being able to protect the rim with his length. Even with his high upside, Lively will need to put on weight upon arriving in college, and figures to be a multiyear player, something Carolina doesn’t have on their roster in terms of post players outside of Armando Bacot.
One of the things that have plagued the Tar Heels since the departure of Cam Johnson to the NBA, has been the void of an elite wing player. The success that Coby White enjoyed as a freshman in the UNC system would’ve been impossible had Cam Johnson been as reliable from behind the arc that season. That brings UNC to Justin Taylor, a 6-6 wing that can fill that void, and be a big piece of Carolina’s offense, especially the way Hubert Davis wants to play. It’ll be a hard recruiting battle for Taylor’s services, as the 6-6 wing is a native of Charlottesville, Virginia which means the hometown Cavaliers are heavily involved in his recruitment. Taylor will be on campus on June 5th-6th and don’t expect him to commit while he’s on his visit. We’ve mentioned that this month is a great chance for Hubert Davis to make his mark as a national recruiter, and if he can wiggle away Taylor from the Cavaliers, that’ll only help him build his reputation, and his program.
One of the first players to earn an offer from Hubert Davis was Jalen Washington, another big man from Gary, Indiana. Washington will be on campus tomorrow, and also has a visit scheduled for Stanford next week. Despite the change in philosophy with the coaching change, Davis knows the importance of having post players in his program, which is why more than half of the players that will visit Chapel Hill this month will be post players. There is some hesitancy with Washington as he’s coming off a knee injury, which means coaches will be keeping an eye on him once he returns to the lineup sometime this summer.
The last player we’ll take a look at will be Will Shaver, a 6-10 big man, who is currently on campus as we speak. Shaver is the lowest ranked recruit that will make his way to Chapel Hill this month, but he’d be a great piece to have in the program for the next handful of years. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, you can expect the home state Crimson Tide to push hard for Shaver, and he already has additional visits to ACC schools Wake Forest and Virginia Tech lineup. The last time UNC hosted an official visit was current sophomore Donovan “Puff” Johnson all the way back in 2019, and he committed while on his visit, time will tell if Shaver does the same.
Make sure to stay tuned to the Heel Tough Blog as we’ll have full coverage of the recruiting news this month for Carolina Basketball.