2019 recruiting

UNC lands commitment from 2019 point guard

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North Carolina added another point guard for the future on Friday afternoon.

Jeremiah Francis, a four-star floor general from the Class of 2019, announced via Twitter that he had made a verbal commitment to the Tar Heels.

Joel Berry is set to exhaust his eligibility at the end of this upcoming season. Roy Williams has responded to that impending departure by adding lead guard Jalek Felton, nephew of former UNC star Raymond Felton, to this year’s team. Rechon Black, another four-star point guard, is set to join the program in the fall of 2018.

Francis, who plays for Pickerington Central in Ohio, is the first commit for UNC in the Class of 2019. He picked the Tar Heels over the likes of Ohio State, Indiana, Florida State and West Virginia, among others. His high school teammate, Sterling Manley, a three-star big man, will be a freshman at North Carolina this fall.

The 6-foot-2 Francis spent the spring and summer playing for Indiana Elite in the adidas Gauntlet.

R.J. Barrett’s highlights from the FIBA U19 World Championships

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R.J. Barrett led Canada to the FIBA U19 World Championships on Sunday with a 79-60 victory over Italy in the title game held in Cario, Egypt.

Barrett, rated as the top overall prospect in the Class of 2019 by Rivals, earned MVP honors for his performance, averaging a tournament-best 21.6 points to go along with 8.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game over the seven games.

His semifinal performance made waves over in the U.S., as he dropped 38 points to hand USA Basketball its first defeat since 2011.

Joining Barrett on the all-tournament team was teammate Abu Kigab, Payton Pritchard of the U.S., and the Italian duo of Lorenzo Bucarelli and Tommaso Oxilia. Kigab and Pritchard will be teammates this season at Oregon.

The 6-foot-7 Barrett, who plays his prep ball at powerhouse Montverde Academy in Florida, spent this spring playing for UPlay Canada in the Nike EYBL. In eight appearances, he averaged 28.0 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.

Five Takeaways from the adidas Gauntlet Dallas

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FORT WORTH, Tx. — The April Live Evaluation period had its first of two weekends as events took place all over the country. Many of the nation’s top college coaches were stationed at shoe-company events held by adidas, Nike and Under Armour.

I spent the weekend watching a lot of the top Class of 2018, 2019 and even some 2020 prospects at the adidas Gauntlet in Fort Worth.

Here are some takeaways from the event, including some thoughts on Zion Williamson, Romeo Langford and more.

1. Zion Williamson draws a huge crowd but still has some work on his game

Although he only played a game and a half due to a lingering knee injury that ended his weekend early, the national hype machine for YouTube sensation and Class of 2018 star Zion Williamson is very real. Not many players draw large crowds of outsiders during grassroots events but players from other events and local fans turned out en masse to try and see some of the highlights that Williamson has put together these past few months.

He wasn’t quite 100 percent because of the knee, but the South Carolina native still showed the type of rare burst off the floor that allows the 6-foot-6 Williamson to snare rebounds and score over bigger players. People who hadn’t seen Williamson live before were also stunned at how big and strong he actually appears in person compared to the average high school basketball prospect.

Even though Williamson still has to polish his overall skill level and jumper, there are just times that he looks like a man among boys out on the floor.

Williamson will likely be a destructive force at the college level because of his ability to operate around the rim and in transition but he’s also going to have to make sure he tries to develop some range to keep defenders honest. Still shooting a pretty hard ball on jumpers, Williamson has to work on 3-pointers and free throws during these next few months.

2. Romeo Langford is still working on consistency

Consensus top-five Class of 2018 prospect Romeo Langford is an elite shooting guard prospect thanks to his overall package of athleticism and skills and he’s mostly focused on making sure that he brings his best effort every game.

In the past, Langford was the type of player who could go for 40 in one game and then play sluggish in the next as he needed to make sure that he was dialed in during each contest. Although he led the adidas Gauntlet in scoring playing in three games this weekend, it came with more of the same results as we’ve seen in the past.

In two games, scoring came easy for Langford as he was able to do a lot of damage off of isolations while drawing a lot of fouls. Langford shot 24-for-27 over three games at the free-throw line so that type of scoring ability should translate well at all levels.

When Langford starts to get double-teamed and teams play against him in a physical manner, that is when things start to get difficult for him. Langford can get frustrated with contact at times and he’s also prone to some lapses in intensity.

It’s also fair to say that Langford is very talented and that he’ll also adjust as he adds more strength over time. In a class that doesn’t have many top-flight guards, Langford stands out from the rest because his ceiling is just higher.

3. Immanuel Quickley’s improved perimeter shooting puts him in top 2018 lead guard conversation

One of the biggest revelations from an individual player standpoint came from Baltimore native and lead guard Immanuel Quickley. Already considered a five-star prospect in the Class of 2018, the big knock on the 6-foot-4 Quickley was his lack of a perimeter jumper.

While Quickley’s great size and feel for the game enabled him to dominate at times when he could get in the paint and make plays, opposing defenses found they could sag on him and force him to shoot perimeter jumpers because he was inconsistent.

Quickley appears to have shored up his big weakness. Shooting 48 percent from three-point range (14-for-29) this weekend, Quickley really shoot the ball well as he had confidence off the catch and off the dribble. Since Quickley is already a pick-and-roll maestro who can thread tight passes to teammates, this ability to hit deep jumpers opens up so much more to his game.

Quickley isn’t an elite above-the-rim athlete but he has a ton of things to really like about his game and he’s going to be in the mix among the top lead guards in the Class of 2018. Quickley is down to a final seven of Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, Providence and Virginia.

This was the type of weekend that should give Quickley a lot of confidence going forward. Quickley got the better of five-star guards Quentin Grimes and Romeo Langford in back-to-back matchups (going head-to-head with those players on some possessions) so he’s been ready to take on all challengers so far this spring.

It should also be noted that Quickley’s teammates, Class of 2018 guard Montez Mathis, also had an outstanding weekend scoring the ball as he has immediately vaulted himself into a larger high-major discussion.

4. College coaches are still starving for perimeter shooters

As the 3-point revolution continues to sweep across many levels of basketball, college coaches are looking for any kind of shooters out on the circuit this spring. The adidas Gauntlet didn’t yield as many perimeter options as some college coaches would have liked.

As Hoop Seen’s Justin Young pointed out, only a handful of players at adidas made 10 or more three-pointers this weekend and most players played in three or four games.

It’ll be interesting to see if any more shooters emerge the second weekend of the April period because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of floor spacing out there right now.

5. Keep an eye on late 2017 signees like McKinley Wright

One of the interesting things about the April period being back is that it gives unsigned Class of 2017 players a chance to compete in front of college coaches. College coaches started to call Minnesota native McKinley Wright when he decommitted from Dayton after Archie Miller took the Indiana job.

So Wright now gets to play high-level competition in front of a number of college coaches who need an available point guard to come in and potentially play next season.

Since opening things up from Dayton and decommitting, Baylor, Butler, Clemson, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas State, Minnesota, Santa Clara and Utah are the primary schools involved. Wright still has three official visits left as he’s o

“I’ve been talking to a couple of schools about maybe setting up a visit but I haven’t really scheduled one yet. But I’m planning on using at least two.”

Wright is hoping to find a situation where he can play right away. He looked good at adidas, but you also have to keep in mind that he’s one class older than most of his competition. Still, with a lot of colleges looking for anyone who can handle the ball and potentially knock down shots, Wright is an intriguing spring recruit that could be a rotation player next season.

UCLA gets commitment from Class of 2019 guard and brother of five-star commitment

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UCLA continued to recruit the entire Ball family and it resulted in a commitment from the youngest brother, LaMelo, late this week. The Class of 2019 guard is only 13 years old and the youngest brother of UCLA commits Lonzo (Class of 2016) and LiAngelo (Class of 2017). LaMelo committing to UCLA was confirmed by NBCSports.com after being first reported by Michelle Gardner of the Daily Bulletin. The three brothers all play together on the 17U level with the family-run Big Ballers VXT and LaMelo showed an ability to hit perimeter shots at a high level despite being tiny at his early age.

LaMelo has yet to play a high school basketball game and will attend Chino Hills High School with his brothers this fall. The Bruins are investing heavily in the Ball family in-part because the three can really score the ball and play at an uptempo pace in AAU.

Lonzo Ball is a consensus five-star prospect with elite vision and deep shooting ability while LiAngelo has also shown an ability to hit perimeter shots. LaMelo is committing at a very young age, but UCLA is banking on him growing and being potentially elite like his oldest brother.