Why Is Brandon Ingram So Important?
So, today’s the day.
After months of waiting, highly touted Kinston H.S. recruit Brandon Ingram will announce where he will take his basketball talents to this fall, and the only real guarantee is that Twitter will be a fiery post-apocalyptic hellscape from which nothing good can come at all.
First, he’s undoubtedly a talented player who will make any team in the country better. Ingram is a five-star small forward with an ability to score using his long arms. He’s one of the top players in the country at his position, and is arguably the best player who hasn’t committed yet.
Another big reason is that he fits a need for North Carolina to a tee. After J.P. Tokoto’s surprise departure for the NBA Draft, North Carolina has a hole to fill at small forward. Theo Pinson is the obvious answer on North Carolina’s bench right now, but beyond him, there’s not much depth for the Tar Heels at the 3. It’s possible that Roy Williams decides to move Justin Jackson down to small forward and go with a backcourt of Marcus Paige and Joel Berry, but it’d obviously be nice for the Heels to add more talent at the 3. Ingram would be ideal to replace Tokoto in the line-up, even wearing the number (#13) in high school.
Also, as pointed out in an SB Nation post, this is a big toss-up in the North Carolina/Duke rivalry. If Ingram goes to either Tobacco Road school, he pushes that team over the top as a National Championship threat. Neither team necessarily needs him to be good, but they don’t want to face him twice in the biggest rivalry in college basketball. An Ingram commitment to Duke would also be yet another huge get for Mike Krzyzewski, who has been on a recruiting tear as of late. Ingram would be yet another elite freshman for Krzyzewski, joining the ranks of Jabari Parker, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor. Also, as that SBNation post points out, he’d fill in a dangerous Duke line-up that features talent on the wings, a highly-regarded freshman point guard, and centerpiece Chase Jeter. After North Carolina dominated the rivalry in terms of on-court recruiting success in the late 2000’s, Duke has now swung the rivalry back in the Blue Devils’ favor, and this commitment would continue that streak.
Finally, Ingram’s decision will tell a lot about the impact the paper class scandal has on North Carolina recruits. Ingram said he would have committed to North Carolina in the fall had it not been for the wait on the NCAA’s verdict, and last week Ingram was led to believe the university received its notice of allegations from the NCAA. The dark cloud over Chapel Hill is something that will really hurt North Carolina’s recruiting, and the recruiting process with Ingram has already shown that. Not only would Ingram get the minutes he’s looking for, but the road from Kinston High School to Chapel Hill is normally a no-brainer (see Stackhouse, Jerry or Bullock, Reggie). Should Ingram commit elsewhere, it illustrates just how difficult it will be for Roy Williams to acquire talent in the coming years.
For now, all Tar Heel fans can do is wait and breathe. North Carolina will be a good team next year, regardless of who else does or doesn’t join the team. The Tar Heels will be experienced, talented, and hungry. A player like Ingram would be icing on the cake, but I’m confident that if he goes elsewhere, we’ll see Theo Pinson make a leap next year if he’s thrust into a starting position.
So, sit back, try to relax, and above all else, please don’t harass a seventeen-year-old about what he believes is best for him. If you’re upset, just log off Twitter and get as far away from it as possible. I promise, it won’t be the end of the world.
That already happened on April 7, anyway.
Photo courtesy of rudresh_calls (Creative Commons)