Gnonknode Offered, Sets UNC Visit

Junior Gnonkonde missed a scheduled meeting with the UNC staff on Wednesday, but he'll more than make up for it this coming weekend.

"Junior went ahead and got an early flight out to Louisiana Tech [Wednesday]," Lakeland (Ga.) Lanier County athletics director John White. "And I basically told [UNC assistant coach Vic Koenning] that him driving down here wasn't going to make a difference one way or another. We went ahead and talked over the phone and we went ahead and set up an [official] visit for this weekend."

Originally, Gnonkonde, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound athlete, verbally committed to Georgia Tech last February, but had his scholarship pulled last Friday when he failed to clear the school's admissions.

Initially, Gnonkonde was scheduled to officially visit Central Florida -- the first school to offer him following Georgia Tech's withdrawal -- this weekend.

"I talked to Junior and we had to make some bad decisions one way or another," White said. "And he decided to come to North Carolina this weekend instead of Central Florida. North Carolina made a very strong pitch and looking at Junior's position and their shift to the [4-2-5 defense] and they don't have any ‘bandit' players on roster, that attracts Junior because he might have a chance to play right away. He wants to play ‘bandit' – he wants to stand out and speed rush, play outside and run to the football."

White didn't join Gnonkonde on his trip to Louisiana Tech, but plans to accompany him during his visit to UNC. Gnonkonde will return home from La. Tech on Friday, play in Lakeland's basketball game, and then fly out to UNC on Saturday morning.

"The basketball game is a big game for us," White said.

The key to Gnonknode scheduling the official visit to UNC was receiving a scholarship offer. Koenning extended that offer on Wednesday.

Gnonknode's plan remains to sign with a school on Signing Day.

"I expect UCF to withdraw their offer when I call and cancel the [official] visit," White said. "Basically, we feel we can still consider the University of Central Florida, because we've been there before – just not on an official visit. We feel like we can make a decision off of that [visit]. We don't know anything about North Carolina [and] we don't know anything about La. Tech.

"If he decides before Feb. 1, more than likely it's going to be North Carolina or Louisiana Tech, with a slim possibility of Central Florida. He won't commit during the Louisiana Tech visit – he already told the coaches that – because he wants to see North Carolina first. But he very well could be confused [after these two official visits] – a lot of these [recruits] took seven, eight months of careful looking."

If he is unsure after these two official visits, Gnonknode has plenty of other options to explore. In addition to the seven schools that expressed interest shortly after Georgia Tech withdrew its offer -- which included Florida, Marshall and Ole Miss -- South Carolina, Syracuse, and Wake Forest offered within the last couple of days.

Heading into Gnonknode's official visit schedule, UNC remains the favorite.

"It's up to Junior," White said. "If I had to make a guess, if he had a good visit to North Carolina, with it being an ACC school and playing [Georgia] Tech the third week of the season and having a chance to play his first year, North Carolina would have to be the front runner."

Junior Gnonkonde Profile

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