Top players in the Class of 2015 have started to come off the board at an accelerated pace in recent weeks, and will likely continue to do so. While Duke continues to battle UNC for forward Brandon Ingram, and tries to prevent Kentucky and Kansas from getting their noses under the tent and luring him to one of those similarly storied programs, a couple of other developments this week might have a major impact on North Carolina's recruiting, which so far has borne no fruit in the Class of 2015.
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As discussed on the front page Tuesday, five-star guard Antonio Blakeney, who just committed to Louisville earlier in September, has now re-opened his recruitment. Louisville is still on his list, and it's not unheard of for a kid to re-commit to a school he de-commits from, but that is the exception rather than the rule.
So what does that have to do with UNC? Carolina, which did recruit Blakeney, did not even make his final list before the Louisville commitment, and is not on his list now. But high quality wing P.J. Dozier out of South Carolina has Louisville on his list of five schools he is seriously considering. Carolina is also on that list, and as discussed in an earlier article, Dozier is a critical, critical recruit for UNC. Not just because they don't have anyone else in the pipeline at that position, but because they badly need to regain some recruiting mojo.
But if Blakeney isn't going back to Louisville, then it stands to reason that Rick Pitino will probably be looking to fill that spot. Undoubtedly, he'll be placing a call to P.J. Dozier very soon, if he hasn't already done so. If he can get Dozier into a Cardinals uniform, that would be a very big hit to UNC. Nervous time in Chapel Hill, I would think.
On the other hand, UNC might have gotten some good news with the commitment a few days ago of 6'11" Chance Comanche to Arizona. Arizona continues to recruit at a very high level, but the news here is that the Wildcats, who have long been thought to be right at the top of the lists of elite bigs Ivan Rabb and Stephen Zimmerman, now may cause those guys to pause before heading to Tucson. Although both Rabb and Zimmerman are much higher rated players than Comanche, and it was -- at least to me -- unlikely they both would have gone to Arizona anyway, still the presence of Comanche could be a complicating factor in the recruitments of Rabb and/or Zimmerman.
More than one way to interpret this, really. One is that perhaps Arizona is not feeling as confident about Rabb and/or Zimmerman, so decided to take Comanche because they want at least one big man for sure in this class, as they count on Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski to go pro after this year. But it's also possible that Arizona still is going hard after the two bigger recruits, and has told Comanche that even if they get one of them, he can play behind them for a year, put on some weight, and be ready to go as a soph when Rabb or Zimmerman go pro after their freshman years.
If it's the former, and it means Arizona is not feeling as strongly about landing Rabb and/or Zimmerman, this would of course be welcomed by Roy Williams and the UNC faithful. They have been going hard for both Rabb and Zimmerman. While if I had to bet, I still would bet against them getting either one, I do think their chances of getting maybe one of them got a little better with Arizona's receipt of the Comanche commitment.