MINNEAPOLIS -- Nick Rakocevic is one of the more versatile frontcourt players in the Class of 2016 and the Westchester (Ill.) St. Joseph standout is beginning to hear more from North Carolina.
The 6-foot-10 Rakocevic is ranked the No. 62 overall prospect in Scout.com's national recruiting rankings and he is coming off of a junior season in which he led St. Joseph to the Class 3A state championship in Illinois.
Carolina is showing some preliminary interest in Rakocevic and assistant coach C.B. McGrath has been in touch with Rakocevic's assistant coach at St. Joseph.
"My assistant coach from high school has a lot of communication with Coach McGrath. He talks to [McGrath] a lot," Rakocevic said. "They're going to come and watch me play a couple of times this summer and we were talking about me going on their campus."
McGrath watched Rakocevic play with the Mac Irvin Fire in the Nike EYBL this spring during the live evaluation period, but the big man was coming off of an ankle sprain that he suffered early in April. The injury meant that Rakocevic hasn't been himself yet on the grassroots circuit, but he's working his way back.
"I came back from injury. I got injured the first tournament from an ankle sprain. I'm excited to be back out here with teammates," Rakocevic said.
"I'm probably about 90 percent. I'm pretty much almost there but still some tweaks here and there. That's just the process of rehab and just getting better. I'll be alright though."
Even though Rakocevic wasn't 100 percent during the April evaluation period, he still did enough to continue to garner considerable interest from high-major programs. Rakocevic has already taken some early campus visits before his rising senior year and he'd like to take an unofficial visit to North Carolina to see what the Tar Heels have to offer.
"I would like to make a visit out to North Carolina soon," Rakocevic said. "I know they're trying to get me out there. So I'm going to see if I can try to make it out there by the end of the summer."
One of the reasons Rakocevic is intrigued by Carolina is how the roster is looking the next few years. He also feels like his inside-outside style of play as a big man would fit well with the Tar Heels.
"They're looking really good for next year, I know that for sure. A lot of guys coming back. They look like one of the best teams in the country next year," Rakocevic said of Carolina. "I like how they use their big guys. Their style of play is similar to mine. I like their program. I like Coach Williams and it's a great program, obviously."
Rakocevic comes from St. Joseph, a prestigious basketball school famous for being apart of the basketball documentary Hoop Dreams. The school has also produced NBA talents like Isiah Thomas and Evan Turner. Rakocevic is the next major Division I player to come from the program that just sent Class of 2015 guards Glynn Watson (Nebraska) and Jordan Ash (Northwestern) to the Big Ten.
This spring, he's focused on trying to add strength to his 200-pound frame and he wants to continue to improve his athleticism before reaching the next level.
"I keep saying getting stronger [is my goal] but it's really taken me a lot of time. I'm really working at it," Rakocevic said. "It's just, I'm a big guy and the doctor thinks I'll keep growing. So I'm trying to bulk up and put the extra weight on and just be kind of a complete player and be able to post up and go outside. So I want to get stronger and be more athletic."
As for his recruiting decision, Rakocevic is looking to cut his list at the end of summer and wants to take a couple of official visits before deciding in the fall before the high school season. There are a few things he's looking for in a future decision.
"I would say my relationship with the coaching staff. My playing time as a freshman, I feel like I can be an impact player my freshman year," Rakocevic said. "The location: any of that doesn't matter. The education at all of these schools is great. So any university I'm looking at is a great education. I'm just looking for the best fit for me and the one that's going to get me to the next level."
UNC Watching Rakocevic
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