The wait is over. North Carolina has its first men's basketball commitment from a class of 2016 player.
It comes from Tony Bradley, a 6-foot-10 center from Bartow, Fla., whom ESPN.com ranks among the top 30 prospects in the country. Bradley, according to the website, had no shortage of offers, including ones from N.C. State, Florida and Ohio State. He announced on Twitter his commitment to UNC.
Bradley's commitment is big news – both in the literal and figurative sense. In the literal sense of the word “big,” he appears to be the kind of big man who'd fit nicely into coach Roy Williams' offensive system, which works best with an effective, offensive-minded post player.
The news is big, too, because, well, there's no other way to put it: This has been a tremendously difficult stretch for Williams and his staff on the recruiting trail. Amid the ongoing NCAA investigation and a growing reputation – founded or unfounded, fair or unfair – that UNC is not the place to be for the best of the best high school prospects, these have not been good times for Williams' program.
Bradley's commitment breaks a long streak of disappointing recruiting news for UNC. Not only is he UNC's first commitment from a class of 2016 prospect, but he's also the first top-30 prospect to commit to the program since the 2014 class, when three prospects of that caliber – Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson and Joel Berry – signed with UNC. They'll all be sophomores this season.
UNC missed on its top targets in the class of 2015 but did sign Luke Maye and Kenny Williams, a former VCU commitment who reopened his recruitment after Shaka Smart left for Texas. Williams is known for his shooting ability but it appears unlikely he'll play more than a small role during his freshman season. Maye, meanwhile, could be a candidate to redshirt.
Bottom line: before Wednesday it'd been a while since UNC experienced such good news in recruiting. Bradley's commitment will be celebrated because he's a prospect with a lot of potential but also because of what the commitment signifies: that finally there is some relief in UNC's long recruiting drought.