UNC Basketball Recruiting: Will Lack of Early Commits Lead to Weak 2015 Class?

Brian PedersenFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2014

Joel Berry is one of three players North Carolina signed in the Class of 2014. So far it hasn't landed a 2015 commitment.
Joel Berry is one of three players North Carolina signed in the Class of 2014. So far it hasn't landed a 2015 commitment.Andrew Nelles/Associated Press

North Carolina is welcoming in one of its best recruiting classes of the past decade, as the trio of prospects headed to campus this fall resulted in a No. 3 overall ranking by 247Sports.

How much those players impact the 2014-15 season might not be as important as what they do the year after, though, especially if Carolina doesn't get the ball rolling on its recruiting class for 2015.

Guard Joel Berry and forwards Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson have all been signed since November, and since then, Roy Williams and his staff have been working tirelessly to put together another great class. At least that's what we can only assume, since to this point there's shockingly been no tangible activity from UNC on the recruiting front.

As of Friday, the Heels don't have a spot in 247Sports' composite rankings, since they have no commitments to grade them on. While UNC isn't the only team in Division I this applies to—the current ranking only lists 76 schools—it is one of the few power programs not to have gotten at least one player to pledge for the 2015-16 season.

At this point last year, Williams already had Berry, Jackson and Pinson on board, as each had committed by late May 2013. Berry, the 30th-ranked player in his class, picked Carolina in January 2013.

The July evaluation period is in full swing, with three main events across the country drawing college coaches looking for players in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 classes. This past week, the LeBron Skills Academy in Las Vegas and the Reebok Breakout Classic in Philadelphia were the main draws, with UNC well-represented at each, according to 247Sports' Ross Martin and HardwoodInsiders.com:

Ivan Rabb, a 6'10" power forward from Oakland and the No. 2 player in the 2015 class, appears to be Carolina's top target from that year's group. He's one of 18 players 247Sports lists as on UNC's radar, with Rabb and 5-star small forward Brandon Ingram from Kinston, North Carolina.

Other players UNC is high on include center Stephen Zimmerman, point guard P.J. Dozier and shooting guard Antonio Blakeney.

Getting all of these targets isn't likely, but landing at least one can go a long way toward ensuring UNC gets a top-15 class for the eighth straight year. Whether that can happen during the summer will depend on how quick the top prospects want to take themselves off the board, something that many may be trending away from, according to Bleacher Report's Kerry Miller.

Only 14 of the top 50 players in 247Sports' composite rankings have committed, with eight of those coming from players ranked 39th to 50th. Of those rated as 5-star talents, 20 of 24 haven't chosen a college and another (guard Tyler Dorsey) backed off on a pledge to Arizona last month and cited in the letter to Wildcats coach Sean Miller and others that he made his decision too early.

With that kind of data in mind, not having any big-name commitments (or any pledges at all) isn't devastating. Rather, it's more something to keep an eye on if that dearth of commits continues into the fall, when Williams and his staff will be doing less work on the recruiting trail and understandably focusing more on the current roster and the 2014-15 season.

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.