What put North Carolina over the top? What was it about the program that reinforced your belief that it was the place for you?
ACC basketball, big games. Every game is a big game in the ACC. Also, that was my dream school growing up, so I just followed my dream really. The coaching staff – coach Roy Williams and (assistant) C.B. McGrath – they push their team hard… I’ve been to a couple of practices and a couple games. They’re a high, up-tempo team and that’s the style I like best.
Was the ability to play for a national championship a factor?
That was a big part of it. They’re ranked No. 1 right now in the preseason. I’m going to the best school in the nation right now. They have a chance to compete for a championship every year. It’ll be a great experience for me going in as a freshman.
How does it feel to know that you’ve now achieved your dream?
It’s definitely a blessing. It’s been a tough process. I couldn’t play last summer because I was hurt, but they (UNC) stayed on me and stayed true to me. It’s fun to get it over with, but it has been a fun process and I appreciate UNC.
Did you call the other two coaches and tell them? How tough was that for you?
Yes, I called both of them (Frank Martin and John Thompson III). It was probably the toughest thing I’ve had to do, telling USC (South Carolina) I wasn’t coming, because of the relationship I have with (South Carolina assistant coach) Lamont (Evans). He took it well and said he’s still there for me and I really appreciate that.
When you went to the South Carolina exhibition game on Sunday were you leaning there?
I was kind of tied between the two. Then I went there and saw A’ja Wilson, she’s also a South Carolina Gamecock and one of my closest friends. After I left, I just kind of wrote down my thoughts and told my parents I didn’t have an answer. So we talked Monday night and that made it clear. I made the final decision late Monday night. It was definitely a relief. It’s been a long ride. It’s been four years of ‘Where do I want to go? Where am I gonna end up?’ It’s been a lot of hounding, a lot of texts, tweets and everything. It feels great to have it over with.
You were under a lot of pressure, politically, to stay home. How tough was it to withstand all that?
It was definitely tough. Everybody in South Carolina wanted me to stay home and rebuild the program. This is still my state and I love my state.
Were your parents both on board with North Carolina?
Yes, they actually left it up to me. They said they just wanted me to do what’s best for me.
How do you feel like you fit in with what North Carolina does?
I feel like that’s the best fit for me. They’re a fast paced offense and Coach recruited me from the beginning so I definitely think I made the right choice.
How big of a North Carolina fan were you growing up?
I was a huge North Carolina fan growing up. Of course Michael Jordan went there. I’ll always be a fan. When they won the championship in 2009, that really had me liking North Carolina more. It’s always been my dream school.
Were there any concerns with the academic stuff going on there? Did that ever scare you away?
No, me and Roy Williams trust each other. He always told me that men’s basketball had nothing to do with it, so I took it in my heart and believed it.
When did you tell Roy Williams and what was his reaction?
I told him last night. I actually had to pull the phone away from my ear because he started screaming.
What’s your relationship like with the North Carolina players?
We’ve built a great relationship. I met a lot of them for the first time on the (official) visit, but we connected off top. (UNC senior forward) Brice Johnson, we played together when I was like 12, so we definitely have a great relationship. But he’ll be gone next year, so I’m just looking forward to four years with the UNC program.
Did Brice’s transition from high school in South Carolina to college in North Carolina help you make your decision?
No, but I remember when he committed because I was happy and a North Carolina fan. We all kind of joked about it, but we didn’t really say anything. When I went up there, he didn’t really try to force me to go, he just really was my brother first, so he just supported me in whatever decision I wanted to make.
How much of a factor was your official visit?
It was great. When I went up there, I felt at home. The group of guys was great to be around and they took me in as a younger brother, and that definitely made a big impact. It was like family up there already.
Can you describe what you were feeling when your mom handed the bag with your UNC hat and you were moments away from announcing your decision?
It was kind of easy to get it over with, honestly. It’s been tough, my heart probably dropped a little bit after because I wanted to see how everybody reacted.
Was UNC and Roy Williams’s persistence an important piece of your decision?
They were definitely loyal to me. Roy Williams offered me my freshman year. He always told me that he didn’t want anybody to outwork him and he definitely accomplished that goal. He was outworked by no coach.
Anything you want to say to North Carolina fans?
What a great day to be a Tar Heel.