The UNC coaching staff is starting to monitor players from the class of 2018. One of those players that is Connor Vanover a 7-3 center from Little Rock, Ark.
“UNC called my high school coach last week,” Vanover noted. “He was saying that the UNC coach said they were very interested in me, and they were going to keep looking at me before offering.
Connor Vanover’s father, Chris, confirmed that assistant coach Steve Robinson was the one that had expressed interest.
“He said that they would look at Connor during the Peach Jam when he is playing for the Arkansas Wings 16U team. After he was at the CP3 camp last year a bus took the kids to all of the local colleges in the area so he has seen the UNC campus before.”
The rising sophomore represented the United States in the FIBA America tournament earlier this month.
Towering over his competition, Vanover used his height as an advantage at times during the USA training camp, but weighing in at just 210 pounds he also struggled with the physicality of the opposing big men. Periodically Vanover was pushed around in the post on both ends of the floor due to his frail frame and struggled with his conditioning in the first two tryout sessions. But in the third session, Vanover showed off his unique skill-set. Trying to mirror his favorite player, Dirk Nowitzki, Vanover displayed his shooting skills, which extend out to the three point line. He first knocked in a 15-foot jump shot utilizing his compact shooting form and then moved out to a three point line and calmly swished a shot from the left wing.
“Yeah, definitely, confidence, It’s a big part of it,” noted Vanover. “When I have confidence I have confidence in my shot and everything and without it, I’m not feeling very well and not the same player.”
Last October, Vanover had his first experience with USA Basketball at their developmental camp which included a variety of players from the 2017 and 2018 classes in addition to several of the top players from the 2015 class.
“The first one, I did not know what to expect,” said Vanover. “It was a lot of older people that were very talented. I did not know what to expect and I was very nervous. This time I knew what to expect and I was not very nervous and I was just out here to compete.”
The older people involved in the Men’s Developmental Camp included five-star players Stephen Zimmerman, Chase Jeter, and Caleb Swanigan. All three big men had a decided strength advantage over Vanover.
“It was great,” Vanover noted. “They really taught me how to be more physical. They really helped me and helped me get better for my school year.”
As a freshman, Connor teamed up with one of his older brothers, another 7-footer from the 2016 class at Arkansas Baptist High in Little Rock. Playing in the state’s 4A class (out of seven), the Vanover twin towers went 25-8 winning both district and regional titles before falling in the 4A state semifinals. Despite being just a freshman, Vanover averaged 14.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game while being named to the 4A All-state team.
“I thought it went very well,” said Vanover when talking about his freshman season. “I achieved some really good goals during my high school season. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get the state championship, but I was still very pleased with how we did.”
While Connor likes to showcase his shooting ability, his older brother weighs 245 pounds and prefers to bang down low.
“I’ve learned a lot from him,” Vanover said. “My brother teaches me a lot. He helps me on my inside game and its tough going against other 7-footers. He’s a better post than I am and he can teach me more things.”
“My best strengths are my size, shooting ability, rebounding, and blocking shots,” said Vanover when discussing his skill-set. “I need to work on my perimeter game for offense. Just not shooting but so I have multiple ways to score like driving and other things. I also need to work on my defense. Getting lower and wider and be better on help side.”
Given his height and shooting ability, Vanover has started to receive significant interest from schools in the SEC and ACC. So far he has heard from Arkansas, LSU, Virginia, Iowa State, Iowa, Kansas, Baylor, Wake Forest, and other ACC schools including UNC.
“Yeah, I would be interested in UNC,” said Vanover. “I followed them a little this year and I thought they did very well.”
2018 Intro: Connor Vanover
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