IC checks in with Jason Fraser

Jason Fraser simply dominated the competition this summer. He proved that he's one of the elite centers in the class of 2002 -- and arguably the highest rated college-bound center. Now, the 6-9 Amityville High star has begun the process of making a decision -- and the Tar Heels are one of the top contenders.

Talk toward the end of the summer suggested that St. John's could be the favorite. Fraser, a Long Island native, said that while there is local pressure to choose SJU, there is a strong Carolina contingent as well in New York City.

"Quite honestly, I do feel a strong [local] pull, but it it kind of works both ways to tell the truth," Fraser told IC's Recruiting Analyst Clint Jackson yesterday. "I feel just as much pressure to play for North Carolina as well because there are so many Tar Heel fans in the area."

But being the hometown school clearly is a big plus for the Red Storm, as is the nearby Madison Square Garden. Fraser told us earlier this year that he grew up a big fan of New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing.

"I'd say the fact that they're so close to home [is the best thing about St. John's]," Fraser said. "I'm really big on family and having my 89-year-old grandma being able to see me play is nice. I mean how many guys can have their 89-year-old grandmas watch them play? And the Garden is the other thing. I love the Garden."

He has an in-home visit scheduled for Sept. 14 with SJU head coach Mike Jarvis and will make his official visit to the campus the following day.

The other school UNC fans are concerned about as the most dangerous competition for Fraser is Villanova. This past spring, a hot topic on the recruiting circuit was the potential package deal with AAU teammates Fraser and Curtis Sumpter. The two Long Island Panthers, who guided the team to the coveted Big Time title in Las Vegas last month, both spoke about a strong interest to play college ball together.

Sumpter has since committed to Villanova, but Fraser said his fellow Panther is only part of the reason he's so fond of the Wildcats.

"[It's] half Curtis Sumpter and half Jay Wright," he said, referring to Villanova's first-year head coach. "I just know [Wright] a lot better than the other coaches – he is the guy that I'm most looking forward to playing for. That, with Curtis, are Villanova's biggest uplift."

Fraser has yet to set up an in-home or official visit with Wright and the Wildcats, but is sure to do so. He spent last weekend on the UConn campus for an official visit, and while he came away quite impressed, the Huskies have not yet edged their way into his top three.

Jackson asked Fraser if he felt that any school pursued him the hardest – made him feel the most wanted.

"Definitely North Carolina," he said. "They show it."

How do they show it?

"Words, actions, everything -- you name it -- they do it," Fraser explained. "I've got to credit their method of recruiting. They try so hard, plus the level of exposure at North Carolina is great."

Fraser will get a Sept. 13 in-home visit from Matt Doherty and will officially visit Chapel Hill on the weekend of Oct. 6. The Tar Heel football team will host East Carolina that Saturday.

While different schools have had their stay atop Fraser's list, it's currently a three-way tie.

"At one point all three schools were a leader," he said. "Villanova was the first to do it, then North Carolina and then St. Johns. I'd say that they're all even right now."

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