Vaughn Remains Top UNC Priority

LAS VEGAS — The LeBron James Skills Academy looms as just one more notch on Rashad Vaughn's belt. The explosive scorer has strung together a series of conquests during the spring and summer, and this weekend he's a marked man in Sin City.

His success and its consistency have earned him a spot among the national elite, with certain All-American honors to follow next spring. And as the travel season progresses through its final month, increasingly the focus turns to his recruitment.

Vaughn and North Carolina have navigated a courtship that began in earnest early this year. The Minnesota native — who plans shortly to announce where he'll finish high school — said this past spring that he nearly committed to the Tar Heels following an unofficial visit in March.

But he and his parents ultimately decided to wait, and now he plans to undertake official trips this fall before signing in November. Questions naturally have surfaced whether UNC remains meaningfully in the picture.

And here in early July, indeed that appears to be the case.

"I actually hear from (North Carolina) now more than I did before," Vaughn said. "Coach Roy calls me more and we talk a lot, and I also talk to Coach Hubert and Coach C.B."

But while the coaching staff's pursuit never figured to wane even after receiving commitments from Justin Jackson and, more recently, Theo Pinson, how would Vaughn process a potential three-wing scenario?

"The other commitments don't bother me and aren't an issue at all," he said. "It just means we'd compete for playing time, but that's how I like it."

Of course, UNC faces a competition all its own. The Tar Heels must fend off numerous schools that are charging hard, with newcomers still attempting to join the fray.

"Besides Carolina and Minnesota, the hardest interest is from Kentucky, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas … and UCLA is a new one that recently called me," Vaughn said.

But, for the Tar Heels, there is reason for concern. Vaughn realistically can't travel everywhere he'd want on a whim, and Carolina already had a chance to host him. As such, he said he doesn't expect ito return to UNC's campus for an official visit prior to making a decision, though he noted that "it could happen."

And a return engagement to Chapel Hill appears critical. He noted that his parents' comfort and familiarity with a campus will play a key role in his decision and they didn't accompany him on the Tar Heel trip earlier this year.

"My parents will need to visit wherever I go and feel good about it," he said.

For what it's worth, Vaughn then said he could conceivably commit to UNC without a return visit. But from here to fall, then, the context to monitor will be whether Vaughn indeed does schedule another trip to UNC. If he doesn't, that bodes poorly for the Heels' chances; if he does, signs would point strongly in the other direction.

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