Entering the month of July, Brad Buckman's name was nowhere to be found in the national rankings. Prep Stars not only didn't have him in the Top 100, but didn't even list him in the "Best of the Rest," which comprises the next 200 players outside the top 100.
"Most people don't think I can play when they look at me," Buckman told Inside Carolina's Recruiting Analyst Clint Jackson.
Perhaps the Austin (TX) Westlake High product doesn't pass the initial look test, but watch him on the court for a few minutes and it's clear he's a star.
Buckman impressed onlookers at the ABCD Camp, but after his series of performances at the Big Time tourney the following week, everyone was raving about the 6-9, 230-pound talent. In only a few days, Buckman went from unranked and unmentioned to Top 25 -- if not higher.
"My specialty, right now, is my inside game," he said. "I can step out and shoot the three, but I don't try to go beyond the free throw line too much and I stay in the paint. I think my post game is pretty good and I take it to the hole pretty well."
Buckman's post game is much better than "pretty good." Few bigmen in the country have the combination of athleticism, shooting touch and post moves that Buckman possesses.
And the Tar Heel staff is well aware of Buckman's talents. They've quickly placed him among Carolina's top frontcourt targets. The Buckman household has begun receiving regular mail from Chapel Hill.
"I think North Carolina has offered, well — I don't know if it's an offer or not," he said. "But they said that they wanted big guys and I was one of them."
Officially, no, the Tar Heels have not offered a scholarship to Buckman, but should he choose to commit to UNC, Doherty would assuredly welcome him aboard.
But Carolina is far from the only team in pursuit.
Buckman made an unofficial visit to UCLA earlier this week while in town for an AAU tournament. The Bruins have offered a scholarship, so have Missouri, Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisville and Kansas, Buckman said.
Has he begun to think about which schools will receive official visits?
"I'm not exactly sure, but as of right now, it looks like I want to take official visits to UCLA, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina and Illinois," he said, having already made numerous visits to the local Texas campus.
Texas will be the team to beat, as Buckman has strong ties to the Longhorn program besides UT being the hometown school.
"My family is friends with the Barnes'," he said, referring to Texas head coach Rick Barnes.
However, Buckman said no particular school is a strong leader at this point and his list stands at six schools.
"It depends on who else gets involved, but those five (UCLA, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina and Illinois) and Texas [are strong] right now," he said.
He's not close to making a decision, but Buckman knows what he's looking for in a college.
"I like good coaches," he said. "I like to score and I like a big school. I want to go somewhere where the team really gets along. I want to meet a lot of people and I like big crowds at the games.
"I also really want to go somewhere with a good academic program, so I'll have something to fall back on in case I don't make it in basketball. I want to study business management in college, so I want a really good business program."
Stay tuned to IC for the latest on Brad Buckman ...
(Photo by Dave Telep of BlueChipHoops.com)