Recruiting in college basketball seemingly gets more difficult every year, and few teams have cracked the code. But one team that has is North Carolina. The Tar Heels have used every single way of bringing in talent to their roster, and as such they have built the number 7 team in the country. It’s a perfect model for Adrian Autry and company to work off over the next few years.
The old school way of doing things is recruiting high school players, and UNC dipped its toes in the Class of ’23, much to Syracuse’s chagrin. Elliot Cadeau, a five-star point guard, was offered Adam Weitsman money before he disassociated with Syracuse University. Even still, 247 Sports’ number 12 overall player in the country picked the Tar Heels over the Orange among others, including Duke and Tennessee. Cadeau has started 10 of North Carolina’s 15 games and is tallying over seven points per game. He’s a very athletic player, one that could give Syracuse trouble tomorrow.
The more modern way of doing things is the transfer portal. North Carolina brought in a pair of wings, and both of them have paid dividends. Former 5-star recruit Harrison Ingram came in from Stanford after starting 62 of 65 games there, and he’s started all 15 for the Tar Heels while putting up career-high outputs in scoring and rebounding. Many tabbed Ingram as an NBA lock in high school, and his talent has been on full display. The other is a name familiar to SU fans. Cormac Ryan left South Bend for Chapel Hill this past offseason. He might’ve been asked to do a little too much for Notre Dame last season, now he’s settled into his role with UNC as a spot-up shooter off the pass. Ingram and Ryan are both excellent players brought in from the transfer portal.
The most under-appreciated way of doing things is retaining and developing homegrown talent. Armando Bacot is one of the biggest names in the ACC, and he’s now in his fifth season in Chapel Hill. Bacot is still a force, as he leads the conference in rebounding and scores nearly 15 points per game. He’s grown throughout his collegiate career, in large part because he’s stayed in the same place, despite a coaching change. RJ Davis has also been on Tobacco Road, now in his fourth season in Carolina Blue. Davis has always been a solid scorer, but he’s taken it to another level this year. How much so? Davis is only the leading scorer in the ACC this season. Bacot and Davis have been with the same program for years, something we rarely see in college basketball. Boy have they helped out UNC this year.
As Syracuse continues to adapt to an ever-changing collegiate athletics landscape with a new head coach, it should look no further than its opponent this weekend for how to go about things in the future. Hubert Davis has perfectly meshed recruiting high school players, dipping into the transfer portal, and developing homegrown talent, and he has North Carolina in position to win a national title.