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Five-star PG becomes Florida’s first 2019 commit

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Florida landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2019 Tuesday and it was a big one, as five-star point guard Tre Mann announced that he will remain in his home state for college. The 6-foot-4 Mann (The Villages, Florida), who visited Florida in the spring, picked Mike White’s program over North Carolina and Tennessee.

While Florida does have two lead guards on the current roster who are underclassmen in sophomore Michael Okauru and freshman (and expected starter) Andrew Nembhard, there was a need to add depth at the position especially if Nembhard were to play well enough to make his stay in Gainesville a short one. And in Mann, Florida now has a player who is considered to be one of the top lead guards in the 2019 class.

It’s also worth noting that Florida has two key perimeter contributors who will be seniors this coming season in Jalen Hudson and KeyVaughn Allen. So adding another guard, especially one of Mann’s caliber, gives Florida a needed boost as the program moves to complete its 2019 recruiting class.

Another Florida recruit who made news in recent days is 2019 four-star power forward Tyreek Smith, with the Baton Rouge native releasing a final five schools that consists of the Gators, Louisiana-Lafayette, LSU, Texas A&M and VCU.

Five-star guard Cole Anthony announces 12 finalists

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For a kid that’s the son of an NBA player (who also is prominently on TV as an analyst) and a top-five recruit, Cole Anthony has kept his recruitment remarkably quiet. Our own Rob Dauster wrote 2,500 words on him earlier this summer, and still had to “read the tea leaves” as to who, exactly, was recruiting the talented guard.

Anthony finally provided some clarity on the situation ahead of his senior year.

Twelve schools made the cut for Anthony, who will now consider Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisville, Oregon, Villanova, Wake Forest, Pitt, Georgetown, Notre Dame and Miami as his college destination.

Anthony essentially had his pick of any school in the country, so this list is a trim, but considering the size of it, Anthony is still keeping his options open. Those options basically being all the top programs in the country. And Pitt.

(Sorry, that was mean to the Panthers. Clearly the hiring of Jeff Capel, who spearheaded Duke’s recruiting of recent seasons, is putting them in contention for top-level players.)

Anthony has said previously he’s looking to make a spring decision on where he’ll attend school.

 

VIDEO: North Carolina puts Roy Williams’ signature on newly-named court

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The building is named after his mentor, but now the floor bears his name.

North Carolina had a dedication over the weekend naming the floor at Dean E. Smith Center ‘Roy Williams Court’ in honor of the Tar Heels’ current coach who has won three national titles at his alma mater.

Williams is entering his 16th season helming the UNC program, where he worked for Dean Smith as an assistant for 10 years before taking over at Kansas. He returned as head coach in 2003.

“Coach Williams has incredible respect for this university, for his mentor, Coach Dean Smith, this program and everything about Carolina,” North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham said. “He speaks with passion, enthusiasm and a heartfelt commitment that this place means something to him every single day. And he’s earned the respect, not just because he wins games, but because of how he treats others as a mentor, a friend, a father, a grandfather and a contributor to this community.”

The floor now features’ Williams’ signature in Carolina blue with ‘COURT’ emblazoned in white. Here’s the video of how it came together:

 

 

North Carolina’s Seventh Woods serves up vicious poster in The Bahamas

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While arch rival Duke is currently north of the border, playing three exhibition games in Canada as it gets prepared for the upcoming season, North Carolina has been in The Bahamas. Friday night the Tar Heels took on the Bahamas All-Stars, and despite some issues with turnovers Roy Williams’ squad picked up the win by a 112-91 final score.

The game’s best highlight came in the final seconds, as junior point guard Seventh Woods drove the lane and threw down an incredible one-handed dunk. Woods’ landing wasn’t great, as he was knocked off-balance while in mid-air, but he was fine health-wise.

Woods, who finished the game with 11 points, three assists and four turnovers, will be a key player for North Carolina this season. North Carolina has to account for the loss of its two best playmakers from last year’s group in Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson, making the development of players such as Woods and freshman Coby White critical with regards to the Tar Heels’ hopes both within the ACC and nationally.

Woods missed 17 games last season due to a broken bone in his right foot, and he played sparingly once healthy, so these in-game opportunities are big for him regardless of the level of competition. It should be noted that the Bahamas All-Stars beat North Carolina four years ago, with a young Deandre Ayton starring for the home team.

As a team North Carolina turned the ball over 27 times Friday night, and taking better care of the basketball will be a point of emphasis for the Tar Heels in their second and final exhibition game of the trip Saturday afternoon.

Video credits: 10th Year Seniors, Inside Carolina

North Carolina lands five-star 2019 big man Armando Bacot

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North Carolina added a key piece to its Class of 2019 recruiting haul on Thursday as five-star big man Armando Bacot pledged to the Tar Heels.

One of North Carolina’s main recruiting targets over the past year, the 6-foot-10 Bacot gives the Tar Heels an old-school big man and an immediate double-double threat. Although Bacot won’t blow away fans with athleticism or leaping ability, he’s a fundamentally-sound big man with good hands and feet as he throws a number of post moves at the opposing defense. With North Carolina having success with big men like Bacot in the past — most recently with Kennedy Meeks — it means they should know how to utilize Bacot’s assets right away.

Landing a five-star prospect like Bacot is also a huge step for North Carolina’s recruiting efforts as it gives them much-needed stability. This is a class where head coach Roy Williams and his staff are attempting to make serious moves with the rest of the bluebloods of college basketball after years of being outside the top ten in team recruiting rankings.

North Carolina recruiting took its biggest downturn with the Class of 2017 — as the school was in the midst of an academic scandal. That year saw the Tar Heels take a handful of three-star prospects to plug holes on the interior. The program only landed one five-star prospect in that class — Jalek Felton. He already transferred out after one season.

But after a strong Class of 2018 recruiting haul that featured five-star prospects like forward Nassir Little and guard Coby White, followed by this solid start in the Class of 2019, and it appears as though North Carolina is picking up right where they left off before the academic scandal shook things up.

Now that Bacot is already in the fold, North Carolina can focus its recruiting efforts on trying to land elite talent to go along with four-star guard Jeremiah Francis — another Tar Heel pledge in 2019. North Carolina recently received an unofficial visit from five-star point guard Cole Anthony in late July. Australian native and five-star shooting guard Josh Green also put the Tar Heels in his top list of six schools earlier this week. And the Tar Heels also continue to target other talented interior players like Vernon Carey, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Matthew Hurt. Four-star guard Tre Mann is scheduled to take an official visit to Chapel Hill in September.

If North Carolina continues to add quality pieces to the Class of 2019, then they might have the program’s first top-ten recruiting class (based on 247Sports composite team rankings) since 2014. While Duke and Kentucky have dominated recruiting headlines with their yearly one-and-done wars, the Tar Heels have quietly continued to win games and make Final Four appearances.

The North Carolina Class of 2014 recruiting group included players like Joel Berry, Theo Pinson and Justin Jackson. That trio was a huge reason for the program’s recent on-court success. After a brief lull, North Carolina fans are hoping that Tar Heel recruiting wins in 2018 and 2019 can form the foundation of the school’s next potential run at a title.

Important post-July recruiting storylines

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The July live evaluation period is complete as college coaches have been watching prospects over the last three weeks. We’ve learned a lot about some of the recruiting trends and popular players as there are some intriguing storylines to look out or over the next several months.

1. Kentucky or Memphis for James Wiseman?

Elite Class of 2019 center James Wiseman recently came out with his list of top eight schools. But nobody believes that six of those schools even have a chance. Almost everybody believes this one is coming down to two: Kentucky and Memphis.

Wiseman received plenty of attention from both staffs during July as head coach Penny Hardaway has helped make up a lot of recruiting ground for the Tigers these past few months. Kentucky still holds a lot of clout since they own commitments from Ashton Hagans (who’s already part of the program) and Tyrese Maxey — two guards Wiseman said he wanted to play with in college.

While Wiseman didn’t drop any additional hints, or give any kind of indication which way he might be leaning, we’ll have to wait for subtle clues and hints about the next step in this one.

2. How does USC add to its great 2019 start?

Since USC already has four commitments in the Class of 2019, they are in a sweet recruiting position before many schools even hold one pledge. And with one being a five-star and the other three being top-100 prospects, the group already has depth and balance.

While USC likely won’t take that many more players in this current 2019 class, they had a leg up on younger prospects by being able to stick with them during long stretches of the July live evaluation period. That means recruiting talented pieces around Class of 2020 big man Evan Mobley, who many expect will eventually become a Trojan like his brother, Isaiah, and play for their father who’s an assistant on Andy Enfield’s staff.

If USC lands back-to-back talented classes with a Mobley brother in each, it will set a huge foundation for deep postseason runs — even with some potential pro losses early on. Getting that much depth and talent should hopefully translate to success for the Trojans. We’ll see if the early 2019 success pays off down the road with the 2020 returns.

3. Cole Anthony recruiting information

Up until this point, elite Class of 2019 point guard Cole Anthony hasn’t talked very much about recruiting specifics. Anthony played for Kansas head coach Bill Self with the USA Basketball U18 team. So Anthony spoke about his experiences with Self as a coach and person at Peach Jam.

But that’s all we really know about Cole Anthony’s recruitment at this point. Anthony has refused to talk specific schools. It’s hard to get a read on where things stand. Playing in a guard-driven, ball-screen heavy offense is something Anthony has talked about wanting at the college level, so it’ll be interesting to see how much style of play might factor into such a decision.

As my NBC colleague Rob Dauster noted in his tremendous feature on Cole, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams was always present following Anthony during July while Oregon has also been linked quite a bit. At some point, Anthony will begin taking official visits and divulging recruiting information. It’ll be fascinating to clear up all the rumors and get some clarification.

4. Who ends up at No. 1 in 2019? 

Since the Class of 2019 doesn’t have a clear No. 1 prospect, there will still be a lot to play for as the top players enter senior season. With the No. 1 spot having multiple candidates, we could get some marquee battles for the spotlight over the next few months.

James Wiseman, Vernon Carey Jr. and Cole Anthony have long been in the No. 1 conversation. Some national scouts even believe that Jaden McDaniels is the most talented player in the class long-term. But there doesn’t seem to be a consensus player (or order or players) among that group. Others could also sneak into the conversation as well.

It should make for an interesting season with a lot to play for, since some classes have featured near-unanimous No. 1 prospects in years past.

5. How will players handle recruiting with the FBI investigation?

This will be a unique year for recruiting after the FBI investigation into college basketball has uncovered so many allegations over the past year. It’s led to some changes in the coaching ranks. Perceptions of certain programs and coaches might have also been slightly altered.

But we’ll really see the changes in how some programs are handling things with official visits and commitments beginning. Some programs like Auburn and USC haven’t seen any recruiting disadvantages so far. Watching others programs like Arizona and Louisville will be interesting since they’ve typically recruited five-star caliber players in the past. Can they continue to land those kinds of talents?

Players might also be cautious with which schools they visit and when they make a decision. Some recruits specifically cited the uncertainty when they said they were targeting a spring decision — especially with regard to coaching changes. Potential penalties and postseason bans are one thing. Many of these players want assurances that head coaches will remain safe and in place during their time on campus.