Back in late December one of the top players in the Class of 2017, point guard Jalek Felton, announced his decision to play for a North Carolina program he’s long been a fan of (his uncle Raymond was the point guard on the 2005 national championship-winning squad). However, with the school facing NCAA issues that remain unresolved, word surfaced earlier this summer that Felton wanted some clarity on the situation.
Friday it was reported by Sherrell McMillan of Inside Carolina that Felton’s conversation with the staff about this issue went well, and as a result he reaffirmed his commitment to Roy Williams. Given how early in the process Felton was when he committed to North Carolina, it’s understandable that he would have some questions especially considering the NCAA investigation.
“He was just being a young boy, seeing all the guys going to other schools and taking visits,” his grandfather, Raymond Felton Sr., said. “He knows he wants to go back to them. He’s 100 percent committed to Carolina.”
“When they talked he (Williams) just wanted a full commitment,” Felton Sr. continued. “They’re going to have another conversation. He’s not going to take any visits.”
With Marcus Paige being a senior and North Carolina also having multiple juniors in its backcourt, holding onto Felton is critical for the program moving forward when it comes to both their depth and the fact that he’s one of the most talented guards in the class.
The Felton news caps what has been a good week for North Carolina on the recruiting trail. Power forward/center Tony Bradley Jr. announced earlier this week that he’ll be a Tar Heel, becoming the program’s first commitment in the Class of 2016.
Four-star power forward/center verbally commits to North Carolina
While North Carolina was already on the board in the Class of 2017 with the commitment of Jalek Felton, head coach Roy Williams and his staff had yet to land a player in the Class of 2016. That changed Wednesday night, as four-star center Tony Bradley Jr. announced that he’s verbally committed to the ACC program.
The 6-foot-10 Bradley is a native of Bartow, Florida, where as a junior he was a first team Class 7A (second-largest division) all-state selection. Bradley played his grassroots basketball for the Each 1 Teach 1 program, averaging 12.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game on the Nike EYBL circuit. In the Rivals.com rankings that were released Wednesday, Bradley is rated as the 30th best prospect in the Class of 2016.
In regards to both talent and numbers, Bradley’s a key commitment for North Carolina as they look to build a recruiting class while dealing with an ongoing NCAA investigation. While guard Marcus Paige is the senior who receives most of the attention nationally, the Tar Heels have two seniors in their front court in Brice Johnson and Joel James. Add in the fact that Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks are both juniors, and bringing in a young big man was something North Carolina needed to do.
With eight of their 13 scholarships being used by upperclassmen (three seniors), the 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes will be important ones for Williams and his staff.
With four starters returning from last season’s Sweet 16 team, North Carolina is expected to be a contender both within the ACC and nationally in 2015-16. Wednesday afternoon the program announced its completed its non-conference schedule, which includes games against Maryland, Texas and UCLA.
Roy Williams’ team will begin its season in Annapolis, Maryland, where they’ll play Temple in the Veterans Classic which is hosted by Navy. In the other game of that doubleheader the Midshipmen will play Florida. North Carolina’s neutral site game against the Owls is one of four games they’ll play on a neutral court next season.
The Tar Heels also have two games in the CBE Classic in Kansas City (Kansas State, Missouri and Northwestern being the other teams), and on December 19 they’ll play UCLA in Brooklyn, New York. North Carolina has two true road games in non-conference play as well, as they’ll face Northern Iowa in a homecoming of sorts for Iowa native Marcus Paige November 21st and visit Texas December 12.
The game against Maryland, which is also expected to be a national title contender, is North Carolina’s biggest non-conference game of the season. The former conference foes will meet December 1 as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with this being the first game between the Tar Heels and Terrapins since 2014. Prior to last season the two programs had met at least once in every season since the 1953-54 campaign (the first year of the ACC).
Below is North Carolina’s complete non-conference schedule.
November 13: Temple (Annapolis, Maryland)
November 15: Fairfield (CBE Classic)
November 18: Wofford (CBE Classic)
November 21: at Northern Iowa
November 23: CBE Classic (Kansas City)
November 24: CBE Classic (Kansas City)
December 1: Maryland (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)
December 6: Davidson
December 12: at Texas
December 16: Tulane
December 19: UCLA (Brooklyn, New York)
December 21: Appalachian State
December 26: UNCG