North Carolina announced on Monday that four incoming basketball players had signed their national letters of intent, making official their commitment to UNC.
The four players: Jalek Felton, a 6-4 guard from West Columbia, S.C.; Brandon Huffman, a 6-9 forward from Anchorage, Alaska; Sterling Manley, a 6-10 forward from Reynoldsburg, Ohio; and Andrew Platek, a 6-4 guard from Schenectady, N.Y.
Of those four, Felton is the highest-rated prospect. He’s the No. 26 prospect in the class of 2017, according to the 247sports.com composite ranking. The other three players in the class are outside of the top 100, according to 247sports.com.
This is a class, overall, that is designed to provide depth and one that UNC coach Roy Williams hopes develops over time. Outside of Felton, there doesn’t appear to be a player here who will be a candidate to leave school early, though things can certainly change.
In a statement UNC released to announce the signings, coach Roy Williams addressed the relative lack of star power in this class, which ranks 22nd nationally, according to 247sports.com.
“There’s not a top 10, top 15 type player (in this class), but we think Jalek can get to that level as a player,” Williams said. “You need big guys, and in Brandon and Sterling we’ve got two guys who are going to get better and better, with Andrew you have the toughness and shooting ability, and with Jalek you have a big-time athlete with a lot of offensive capabilities who will get better defensively.”
Williams in a statement offered a quick scouting report on each of the four signees.
“Jalek is a young man we have known forever it seems like. He is Raymond Felton’s nephew. He has good genes to say the least. He’s an offensive player who can do just about everything – he can pass, he can shoot, he can penetrate. He’ll help us as a point guard. He’s a great young man, comes from a great family. He’s the kind of young man who can come in and really help us do some things because he’s a complete offensive player. We think he’s going to be a big-time addition to our program.”
On Huffman, who attends Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh:
“Brandon is a youngster who goes to school in Raleigh and his folks live in Anchorage (Alaska). He’s a big kid, he’s got the body. (Strength and conditioning coordinator) Jonas (Sahratian) always says, ‘You can’t sculpt a pebble.’ Well, he’s not getting a pebble in Brandon. His future is really bright. His potential is really high. He’s not a smooth player yet, but he has a wonderful attitude, will work extremely hard and every time I see him play he’s better than what I saw the previous time.”
“Sterling had two broken legs in about a six-month time period and played only 11 or 12 games his junior year. He has the body, passes the look test. (Assistant coach) Steve Robinson went to see him play and really liked him and I went up there and saw the same thing. He’s another guy who has a tremendous upside. Sterling is a real gregarious young man. He’s accepted the challenge to come here and play at the highest level, and he’s going to be a player that is going to get better and better and his upside is awfully big as well.”
And on Platek:
“Andrew is a young man who I saw after his sophomore year in high school in Augusta, Ga. I thought I was looking at a really tough kid who can really shoot. He reminded me a little of (former Kansas guard and UNC assistant coach) Jerod Haase and if he works out as well as Jerod that would be great. A very bright kid, who has the toughness I really like. I think he’ll be the kind of kid who can make shots but he is also a gym rat and will do everything we ask him to do.”
UNC is at its scholarship limit this season, but loses five scholarship seniors (Nate Britt, Kanler Coker, Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Stilman White) after this season. With four incoming signees, Williams still has one scholarship available for the class of 2017.