Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
North Carolina Picked to Win ACC, But Roy Williams Says Scandal Has Hurt Recruiting
North Carolina was picked to win the ACC regular season title on Wednesday, but head coach Roy Williams says the fake-class scandal has hurt recruiting.
“We’ve already lived with it for two years,” he said Wednesday on ESPNU as part of ACC media day. “It’s hurt us in recruiting, it’s hurt us in several different ways. We’re mad, we’re sad, we’re disappointed that it happened but we gotta play basketball. We’ve gotta try to control the things that we can control and our kids out there on the court, they’re going to be playing, they’re not going to be thinking about this stuff that we’ve got going on.”
According to NewsObserver.com, North Carolina has paid out more than $10 million in legal and public relations costs to cope with an NCAA investigation “into a system of fake classes taken by thousands of students, roughly half of them athletes, that spanned three decades.”
On the recruiting front, North Carolina has landed two pledges for the Class of 2016 in shooting guard Brandon Robinson and power forward Tony Bradley.
They remain in the mix for other prospects, including center Udoka Azubuike, who visited this past weekend and is also considering Kansas, Kentucky and Florida State, among others; point guard Seventh Woods, who will announce in early November for either North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgetown; and shooting guard Rawle Alkins,who visited North Carolina last weekend and says he will declare in the spring.
Still, the Tar Heels are no longer in the mix for Oak Hill big man Harry Giles,who ruled them out and is slated to announce Nov. 14 for Duke, Kentucky, Kansas or Wake Forest.
With Hall of Fame head coaches from North Carolina, Syracuse and now Louisville all facing NCAA scrutiny or investigations, the league’s coaches were asked how much responsibility they bear for off-the-court matters and how much they are supposed to know.
“I think it’s impossible to know everything that’s going on, including the academic side,” Williams told ESPNU. “Yet I’m told you can’t talk to professors, you can’t talk to the tutors, you’re not supposed to be involved. You’re supposed to emphasize graduation, you’re supposed to emphasize getting to class but stay away from the other stuff, don’t get involved.
“It’s a very difficult role but we’re at a very, very fine line now where I don’t think it’s even close to being realistic.
On the court, he immediate future looks bright for the Heels, though.
They were picked to win the ACC regular season title ahead of No. 2 Virginia and No. 3 Duke and are among the favorites to contend for the NCAA championship. The Heels have four projected NBA Draft prospects in Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks.
“I think they used the disappointing loss last year in the Sweet 16 as fuel to work even harder this summer,” Williams said. “Some of those guys, Marcus, Joel [James] and Brice are seniors, they know there’s not another chance.
“Hopefully they will be playing their best basketball at the end of the year.”
2015-16 Preseason All-ACC Team(votes in parenthesis)First team
Marcus Paige, Sr., North Carolina (86)
Malcolm Brogdon, Sr., Virginia (77)
Xavier Rathan-Mayes, So., Florida State (43)
Brandon Ingram, Fr., Duke (29)
Demetrius Jackson, Jr., Notre Dame (28)
Anthony Gill, Sr., Virginia (27)
Grayson Allen, So., Duke (27)
Zach Auguste, Sr., Notre Dame (24)
Anthony “Cat” Barber, Jr., NC State (22)
Brice Johnson, Sr., North Carolina (22)
ACC Preseason Co-Players of the Year
Marcus Paige, Sr., North Carolina
Malcolm Brodgon, Sr., Virginia
ACC Preseason Freshman of the Year
Brandon Ingram, Duke
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.