This morning, Brice Johnson, a wiry 6’9″ power forward from South Carolina, confirmed that he is indeed headed for North Carolina. Johnson is a four-star, top fifty recruit in the class of 2012, and, perhaps more critically, represents the final available scholarship that UNC had to offer. Johnson to UNC has big repercussions for North Carolina State and potentially Georgetown. T.J. Warren, a top 25 recruit and one of the best uncommitted small forwards in the class of 2012 seemed like he was well on the way to being Chapel Hill-bound after a very good visit to Carolina’s version of Midnight Madness. Shortly after the Johnson news broke, however, Warren sent a text to CBS Sports, telling them that he will make his decision next week and that he will be choosing between Georgetown and NCSU.
While it might seem puzzling at first for UNC to pass on what at first glance seems to be the superior talent, taking Johnson over Warren is probably a savvy move that will fit the 2011-12 roster better. While the starting small forward Harrison Barnes has a very good chance to enter the NBA draft next season, the Tar Heels would remain overstocked at the wings with Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston both logical candidates to inherit the position when Barnes leaves. At the power forward position, UNC might be more in more trouble: Tyler Zeller is due to graduate and John Henson and James McAdoo are projected NBA lottery picks in 2012. If both were to leave for the pros next summer, North Carolina would find itself with a significant talent void down low. Warren may ultimately prove to be better than Johnson, but for the forseeable future, Johnson fits Roy Williams’ needs more effectively and was probably a better use for North Carolina’s final scholarship spot on the roster.