After combining for six McDonald's All-Americans from the high school class of 2005, North Carolina and Duke will probably exceed that total in 2006. This week Duke picked up three commitments in three days, all from likely 2006 McDonald's All-Americans -- and North Carolina's recruiting class could be better. Could be lots better. More on that in a minute.
|Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski could have as many as 13 McDonald's All-Americans between them. (Getty Images)|
Tuesday: Jon Scheyer, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Glenbrook North High in Northbrook, Ill., chose Duke over Illinois. This, despite the fact that his state's flagship university, Illinois, is coming off a dream season and is coached by Bruce Weber -- the brother of Glenbrook North coach Dave Weber.
Wednesday: Gerald Henderson, a 6-5 wing from Merion, Pa., chose Duke over Villanova. Not that Duke needs help winning recruits, but Henderson's father, also named Gerald Henderson, and Duke assistant Johnny Dawkins are friends from their NBA days.
Thursday: Brian Zoubek, a 7-1 center from Haddonfield, N.J., chose the Blue Devils over Wake Forest and Stanford. Like Scheyer and Henderson, Zoubek is generally ranked between No. 15 and No. 25 by national analysts.
"Three top 25 players in three days? That's sinfully good," says recruiting analyst Dave Telep of Scout.com.
So what does that make North Carolina's potential recruiting class, which could feature three top 10 players? Downright evil, if you coach or root for UNC's competition. The Tar Heels are on the verge of receiving commitments from the country's top recruit at three different positions -- and perhaps four.
Point guard: The Tar Heels' first such commitment came last week from Oak Hill's Tywon Lawson, stocky and quick at 5-11, 185 pounds. Lawson compares nicely to two former Tobacco Road greats, Raymond Felton of UNC and Jason Williams of Duke. Lawson is rated the Class of 2006's top point guard by analysts Telep and Bob Gibbons.
Shooting guard: The Tar Heels' next commitment could come any day from 6-4 Wayne Ellington of Merion, Pa., whom Telep and Gibbons rate as the country's top shooting guard. Ellington is choosing between UNC and Villanova, but Gibbons -- who considers Ellington the No. 3 overall player in the Class of 2006 -- says he wouldn't be surprised if Ellington commits to UNC while visiting the school this weekend.
Small forward: Kevin Durant is the Class of 2006's consensus No. 2 player after 7-footer Greg Oden of Indianapolis. Durant, a 6-9 wing with size-20 feet, is down to UNC, UConn and Texas -- but most observers expect him to pick the Tar Heels. Did we mention that he and Lawson are Oak Hill teammates?
Power forward: North Carolina is one of three finalists for 6-10 Brandan Wright of Brentwood, Tenn. Duke is another finalist. Kentucky is the third.
Heck, UNC is even a finalist for the No. 2 center of 2006, 6-11 Spencer Hawes of Seattle. Prying him from the West Coast, and from the University of Washington in particular, will be difficult -- but the Tar Heels might be on a recruiting roll of Fab Five proportions.
"Duke's recruiting class is a blockbuster, but here comes North Carolina," Gibbons said. "The two neighbors eight miles apart are going tit-for-tat on the recruiting trail."
Two teams, two years, perhaps 13 McDonald's All-Americans? Coached by Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams, who have four NCAA titles among their 15 Final Four appearances? Only three letters could mess this up: NBA.
But the NBA could mess this up, and badly. Without an age restriction, three of the above-mentioned recruits could enter the 2006 NBA Draft out of high school: Durant, Wright and Ellington. A fourth, Zoubek, has NBA size but comes from an Ivy League-educated family that values college. Still, he's 7-1 and highly regarded; he could enter the 2006 draft. So could freshmen Josh McRoberts (Duke) and Tyler Hansbrough (UNC).
Back off, NBA. It's not fashionable to root for frontrunners like Duke and North Carolina to play for the NCAA title -- but the spectacle would be fun to watch.