Where does UNC recruiting stand?

Will Matt Doherty's departure have a negative effect on the recruiting trail. The answer may surprise you.

There's no question that Doherty and his assistant coach worked as hard as any staff in the country. However, their biggest error may have been the failure to attract a legitimate big man to play either alongside or behind Sean May.

Doherty was able to land Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton and Sean May, but all three of them could have just as easily ended up in Chapel Hill even if Doherty wasn't at the helm, according to sources close to the situation. Some of the same sources report that Doherty's fiery reputation clearly scared away some elite recruits, including current Villanova freshman Jason Fraser.

Most of the recruits who are currently looking at North Carolina aren't looking specifically because of Doherty, but were interested because of the tradition of the program.

However, the player most affected by the shakeup on Tuesday night was Reynolds (N.C.) senior forward Reyshawn Terry.

The 6-8 Terry, who was brought on by Doherty and his staff despite a clear need for a big man, did not want to comment shortly after the announcement was made by Athletic Director Dick Baddour.

"He's really bothered by it," said Reynolds assistant coach Andre Gould. "He was really shocked."

"He built up a relationship with the staff and they were guys he cared about," Gould added. "They were very honest with Reyshawn from the beginning and he did all the things that the staff asked him to do and it worked out."

North Carolina's lone commitment so far from the Class of 2004, Eastern Alamance (N.C.) guard JamesOn Curry, was unavailable for comment last night after getting home late from a track meet, but one of the nation's top big men in the 2004 class, who has expressed serious interest in the Tar Heels – among other programs – said that his interest in UNC didn't stem from the coach.

"I still like the school," Tuscaloosa Hillcrest (Ala.) 6-9 power forward D.J. White said. "It obviously depends on who the new coach is, so I really can't comment. But I am still interested in North Carolina."

Despite some of the negativity surrounding Doherty, the former coach was candid with the team's sole remaining target in the senior class, Darryl Watkins, and because of that honesty the Heels still have a chance to land the seven-footer.

Watkins was well aware of the tenuous situation with Doherty.

"[Doherty] told me that it still wouldn't be a bad situation to still come to North Carolina even if he isn't the coach," his father, Darryl Watkins Sr., told Inside Carolina two weeks ago. "That they will get another great coach in and that made me feel a lot better about the situation."

Watkins' father said that a coaching change would not alter his son's thoughts on the program and whether he would select the Tar Heels over Kentucky, Villanova, Rutgers, Pittsburgh and Seton Hall.


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