We are nearly a month past the end of the 2021-22 college basketball season — one that ended on a high note for the UNC Basketball program. Despite losing in the National Championship game to Kansas, the Tar Heels went on a magical run over the final month of the season that very few saw coming.
Since then, the Tar Heels have been one of the hotter teams this offseason.
First it was All-ACC performer Armando Bacot who announced his return, then fifth-year senior Leaky Black. Shortly after it was third-year guard RJ Davis and then the final domino to fall in third-year guard Caleb Love retiring to Chapel Hill.
North Carolina and Hubert Davis have also been a presence on the recruiting trail. With AAU season in full swing and a few live evaluation periods come and gone, here are the latest updates on North Carolina recruiting.
UNC lands 2023 five-star forward GG Jackson
Mar 19, 2022; Fort Worth, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Hubert Davis reacts against the Baylor Bears during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Dickies Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
It was a long time coming for the Tar Heels, but last week they finally received the commitment of [autotag]GG Jackson[/autotag], consensus top-5 player in the 2023 class.
Jackson chose the Heels over South Carolina, Duke, Georgetown, Auburn and professional options.
The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 22.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game this season as he led the Ridge View Blazers to a 20-11 record and state championship.
Jackson is ranked as the No. 1 player in the Rivals150 class of 2023 rankings, No. 6 in the ESPN Top 100 and the No. 8 prospect in the 247Sports rankings.
UNC’s 2023 class ranking jumps up
Mar 27, 2022; Philadelphia, PA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels mascot Rameses performs before the finals of the East regional of the men’s college basketball NCAA Tournament against the St. Peters Peacocks at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
With the addition of five-star forward GG Jackson, the Tar Heels saw a big jump in their 2023 class rankings.
Currently, their 2023 class consists of two five-star prospects including Jackson and point guard [autotag]Simeon Wilcher[/autotag].
In the Rivals team rankings, the Tar Heels are now ranked with he No. 2 overall class. In 247Sports their class is ranked No. 2 as well — both times being behind Duke.
North Carolina does have a 247Sports recruit rating average of 99.69 while Duke has 99.41. The Blue Devils get the slight nod due to its class size.
UNC visits 2023 five-star Matas Buzelis’ parents
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – APRIL 04: Head coach Hubert Davis of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts in the second half of the game against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament National Championship at Caesars Superdome on April 04, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
After receiving GG Jackson’s commitment, the UNC staff went hunting down its next target in the 2023 class. That stop was a visit to five-star wing Matas Buzelis’ parents.
The 6-foot-9, 175-pound Buzelis is ranked No. 5 by 247Sports. He has a total of 13 offers in his recruitment with programs such as UNC, Duke and Kentucky all after him.
Buzelis plays for Brewster Academy (NH) and is emerging as one of the top players in the entire country — if not the top in the class.
While his recruitment is just getting underway, it surely looks like it’ll be one with every Blue Blood involved.
He recently spoke with Brandon Jenkins of 247Sports about his recruitment and what he’s looking for in a program.
“I am looking for a program that is big on development. I am also looking for a family as a coaching staff. It is bigger than basketball for me so I want a staff who shows love towards me and my game.”
UNC coaches watch under-the-radar 2023 prospect Carey Booth
Apr 2, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels mascots Rameses performs after a Tar Heels victory over the Duke Blue Devils during the 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament Final Four semifinals at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
The UNC staff is actively pursing the top players in the 2023 class but are starting to set their sights on some rising 2023 prospects.
One of those players is Carey Booth – ranked No. 143 in the 247Sports class of 2023 rankings.
During the second evaluation period in April, the UNC staff was on hand to see Booth in Kansas City. With a few offers to his name before April, he added California, Colorado State, Iowa, Marquette, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, UCSB, Wake Forest and Xavier to his offer list last month alone.
Colorado, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina and Villanova were just some of the notable programs to watch Booth during the second live period.
The 6-foot-9 Booth is the son of longtime NBA player and current Denver Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth.
Notable UNC targets boosted their stock during the April live periods
North Carolina’s Hubert Davis works in the second half of the Peacocks’ 69-49 loss to UNC in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Sunday, March 27, 2022.
Ncaa Basketball Ncaa Tournament Saint Peter S Vs Unc Saint Peter S At Unc
The April live periods are when recruitment start to break out for many big tie and underrated prospects. This year, even more as it’s the first true summer of AAU recruiting after Covid impacted the past two.
There were multiple UNC targets that stood out during the evaluation periods.
Per Rivals national analyst Rob Cassidy, some of the notable performers were 2023 6-foot-10 forward [autotag]Zayden High[/autotag] and 2024 6-foot-9 forward [autotag]Jason Asemota[/autotag].
High is a stretch forward who has heard from the UNC staff following some big time performances in the first live period. The staff was on hand to watch him during the second eval.
Cassidy broke down his performances in April
The major revelation of April’s first live period, High impressed at the Orlando EYBL session and has since built on the waves he made at the event. High is a long, active defender that has shown the ability to make shots in a number of different ways, be it off the bounce, at the rim or in catch-in-shoot situations. High is a double-double threat each time he steps on the floor and uses his massive wing span to disrupt passing lanes. He’ll undoubtedly move into the top 100 when the rankings are updated.
Texas, Michigan, Arkansas, Texas Tech, Alabama and Kansas State are some of the notable programs that have offered High since he broke out a few weeks ago.
For Asemota, he has notable offers from Kansas, Arizona, Arizona State, Illinois, Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon and Texas Tech already.
UNC is starting to get involved and is looking to try and get him on campus this summer.
Cassidy touched on his game and play over the first two evaluation periods.
Asemota has long been a high-profile prospect with a bright future. There’s a reason he currently ranks No. 25 in the Rivals150, after all. After two live periods, however, it’s clear that 25 isn’t nearly high enough for the 6-foot-9 forward who plays the circuit with The Syndicate grassroots organization. Asemota has long had the build and the agility to impress college coaches, but he’s shooting the ball incredibly well from distance lately and is slowly becoming more aggressive when it comes to getting to the basket. He knocked down six three-pointers on his way to 36 points on 14-for-19 shooting in an EYBL game over the weekend and continues to make his case to move into striking distance of the top five.