Joel Berry’s NBA Draft declaration Tuesday means that the Tar Heels will have their veteran point guard back in 2017-2018.
The future is considerably more murky at the moment for Tony Bradley, however. Bradley declared for the draft without hiring an agent. Another UNC teammate, Theo Pinson, has also declared for the draft without hiring representation.
Bradley has been moving up as a viable 2017 draft candidate in recent weeks. DraftExpress currently has Bradley listed as the No. 50 overall draft-eligible prospect. With his 6-10 frame and athleticism, Bradley would be a coveted target for multiple NBA franchises if he remains in the draft field. He would not likely be taken in the 2017 lottery (the top 14 picks), but Bradley a late-first round selection is not out of the question.
In Pinson’s case, it appears virtually assured that he will be back in Chapel Hill next fall. Unlike Bradley, Pinson is not projected to get drafted. He has a golden opportunity this spring, though, to gain valuable feedback from pro scouts. Pinson can take those lessons back to UNC next season, and work towards getting drafted in 2018, like Justin Jackson a year ago.
You don’t wanna just wing it
If Pinson and Bradley both decide to leave Chapel Hill for good, Roy Williams will have a couple extra scholarships to work with next year. The Tar Heels already have room for five-star 2017 phenom Kevin Knox, regardless of what Bradley and Pinson ultimately do.
Should Knox choose the Heels over Duke, Florida State, and Kentucky next week, that would leave one scholarship open if Bradley stays in the draft. UNC would be full from a scholarships standpoint for 2017-2018 if Knox signs, and Pinson and Bradley both return.
If Pinson were to leave along with Jackson, who has already declared that he is staying in the draft, UNC would be in major need of wings. The Tar Heels already have a pair of 2018 pledges in Rechon Black and Coby White. Both are versatile combo guards, too.
On the front line
Bradley’s departure would create more opportunity for UNC’s three incoming freshmen post players — Garrison Brooks, Sterling Manley, and Brandon Huffman. All three were four-star prospects in high school, though none of them were considered elite, McDonald’s All-American-type standouts.
With the infusion of youthful post talent coming to Chapel Hill later this year, recruiting post players isn’t nearly as big a priority for the Tar Heels as recruiting wings. However, UNC has extended an offer to in-state power forward Jairus Hamilton. And they are keeping a close eye on 6-10 center David McCormack at Oak Hill Academy.
If UNC misses out on Kevin Knox, and winds up losing Pinson, it is possible that the Tar Heels could seek a capable transfer wing for next season. But either way, that position remains one of UNC’s top recruiting priorities in the class of 2018.