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March 6, 2013

Stars coming for UNC-Duke

The annual showdowns between North Carolina and Duke on the basketball court are some of the most highly-anticipated games of the entire regular season, and the Tar Heel basketball and football programs have been wise to take advantage of such an intriguing matchup in recruiting.

The Tar Heels are going to have some America's top high school prospects in both basketball and football in town this weekend for official and unofficial visits, giving coaching staffs of both programs great opportunities to sell UNC and their respective visions.

On the basketball side the list starts with Andrew Wiggins, the nation's top high school basketball recruit and UNCs only remaining uncommitted 2013 prospect.

Sources have been all over the place trying to peg Wiggins, but most insiders we've spoken with contend that Wiggins is likely going to end up at Florida State.

But anytime a recruit comes to Chapel Hill on an official visit, UNC has a chance. And we've been hearing that Wiggins is determined to play for a national championship contender his one year of college. If that's indeed the case he could do far worse than Carolina, which will be returning most of its roster intact in 2013-2014 regardless of whether anybody leaves early for the NBA.

Wiggins will get the same red carpet treatment that Justin Jackson got this past weekend on his own official visit.

Just a couple days off his commitment to the Tar Heels, Jackson is planning to return to Chapel Hill this weekend for the big game between UNC and the Blue Devils with a possible tie for second place in the ACC standings at stake.

Carolina will also be welcoming at least two of its 2013 signees, Kennedy Meeks and Nate Britt, whose respective high school seasons have ended.

Isaiah Hicks is honestly hoping he won't be at the UNC-Duke game, because that will mean his Oxford (N.C.) Webb squad will have lost Friday night in the NCHSAA 3-A East regional semifinals against Mebane (N.C.) Eastern Alamance, and won't be continuing its run towards a state championship.

Should Webb beat Alamance Friday night Hicks will be playing Saturday in Fayetteville and won't be in Chapel Hill. If his team wins Saturday, Hicks will be playing for a state title the following Saturday in Raleigh.

Several more 2014, 2015, and 2016 prospects are coming to Chapel Hill this weekend as well, as both of UNC's top two 2014 shooting guard targets, Theo Pinson of Greensboro and Rashad Vaughn of Minnesota will be at the game. It would seem that Pinson and Vaughn are currently UNC's top two remaining prospects at the 'two' guard spot, and one of them could very well take that scholarship in the coming months and become a Tar Heel.

Pinson's teammate at High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan, 2016 forward Harry Giles, has already made a couple of appearances at UNC, and he'll be back again for the Duke game.

Giles is likely going to be a top 20-caliber prospect in the current freshman/rising sophomore class, and we look forward to watching his progress this summer on the AAU circuit.

The top 2015 (sophomore/rising junior) prospect who will be in Chapel Hill this weekend is an Ohio native, 6-5, 180-pound shooting guard Luke Kennard. Kennard, the No. 32 prospect nationally in the current Rivals 150 for 2013, has been earning scholarship offers all over the Midwest since the start of his sophomore season, and he's definitely a guy that could climb high on UNC's 'two' guard radar for 2015.

While Wiggins certainly takes the cake among headliner visitors on the basketball side, there's a host of prominent 2014 football recruits who will be in the Smith Center for the huge game with the Blue Devils.

Certainly UNC's coaches could have passed out tickets to hundreds of recruits who would have been highly anxious to attend the Carolina-Duke game had the tickets been available, but the Tar Heels had to be more selective with these tickets and only make invitations to certain kids, some of its top overall prospects.

That's an angle in itself for Carolina football going into this particular Junior Day---the angle that only the best were invited this weekend.

It's a who's-who of some of North Carolina's top football prospects, including Rivals 100 Charlotte standouts Elijah Hood and Bentley Spain, and Rivals 250 in-state defenders Lorenzo Featherston and Chris Register of Greensboro and Trevion Thompson of Durham, among many others.

That's the tip of the iceberg, as the Tar Heels are welcoming other in-staters including DeAndre Thompkins of Swansboro, Josh Cabrera of Jacksonville, Braxton Berrios and Avery Edwards of Raleigh, Johnathan Lloyd of Graham, Freeman Jones of Bunn, Cayson Collins of Charlotte, and UNC's lone in-state commit at this time, defensive end Robert Dinkins of Charlotte.

Certainly getting the top North Carolinians to Chapel Hill for the Duke game is the utmost priority, but a couple select Virginia natives---notable five-stars Da'Shawn Hand and Andrew Brown---have been invited and will be in town, as well as the top-ranked prospect right now in South Carolina, offensive lineman Donell Stanley of Latta.

Hand and Brown are currently two of the top three rated prospects in Virginia and among the top six prospects overall nationally, regardless of position in the current Rivals rankings (Hand is No. 1, Brown is No. 6). They're also the top-rated players at their individual positions right now nationally---Hand at defensive end, Brown at defensive tackle.

Hand recently revealed a list of leaders that didn't include UNC near the top, but that of course won't stop the Tar Heel coaches from welcoming him to campus with open arms Saturday evening.

The same goes for Brown, who appears to have strong interest in the Tar Heels and could be a team to watch as he looks to narrow his focus on a few select schools in the coming months.

Another Virginia defensive lineman with a UNC offer, Ricky Walker of Hampton, is also expected in town this weekend. Walker doesn't have the hype that Hand and Brown has, but he's a legit recruit with approximately a dozen BCS scholarship offers, including the Tar Heels.

Latta (S.C.) is the home of former Tar Heel basketball great Raymond Felton, so there's a strong pro-UNC sentiment in that particular small town in the Palmetto State. And while it still may be tough to pull Stanley away from Clemson or the SEC, this is his second trip to North Carolina in three weekends, so clearly he's giving strong consideration to the Tar Heels.

Needless to say, it's going to be an action-packed weekend of action for the Tar Heels, and Tar Heel Illustrated will be there to keep everyone abreast of what's happening.


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