And the winner is: North Carolina.
In a school assembly/press conference televised by ESPN-U, #1-ranked Harrison Barnes chose Chapel Hill as his home for at least the next year, and in doing so launched UNC’s recruiting class and national championship prospects for next year into highly rarified air. In addition to Barnes, the Tar Heels have secured commitments from 13th-ranked Reggie Bullock (a 6’6 shooting guard) and 19th-ranked Kendall Marshall (a 6’4 point guard). Not only does this secure top-notch players at three different spots on the floor for Roy Williams, it also stacks players behind the highly-touted fellows he’s already got in uniform.
As opposed to picking up and putting on a hat or lowering a banner, Barnes announced his decision by moving to a podium and “Skype-ing” his coach of choice. The crowd erupted when he said, “Hello, Coach Roy Williams?” and Williams — accompanied by the rest of the Tar Heel squad — appeared live on the large screen set up next to Barnes. Props to Barnes for his original approach in announcing his school; it looks like a little competition is developing here, in its own right. It will be interesting to see what future recruits come up with when they’re announcing their decisions on live television. In a few years, kids will stand at a podium and say, “I’ve been working with some guys at MIT, and I will now teleport myself to the school that I’ve chosen…”
Kentucky may have taken last year’s recruiting title, and Ohio State may have had the early lead this year — but (to paraphrase from Good Will Hunting) the Tar Heels have responded, and they have responded with vigor. Duke, Kentucky, Kansas…it’s your move.