Big Time: New names to watch

LAS VEGAS -- The adidas Big Time Tournament has featured three new North Carolina men's basketball recruiting targets this past week, plus a semi-new target. [Pictured: Joakim Noah]

North Carolina watched or contacted Joakim Noah of the Long Island Panthers, Quentin Thomas of the Oakland Rebels, Randolph Morris of the Atlanta Celtics and Theo Davis of the Ontario Cyclones. Only Morris is playing today as the Celtics reached the final eight in the Open Division.

Noah's ride to the top of the recruiting world is a near miraculous story. The 6-foot-10 power forward had three qualities working for him prior to July -- his father is a famous tennis player, he plays in the New York City area where media attention is never a problem and colleges are always looking for players with height.

Yet, prior to the adidas ABCD Camp, Noah was receiving mostly interest from the lower Big East schools and Atlantic 10. However all that changed at ABCD.

Noah said Duke, North Carolina, Maryland, St. John's, UCLA, Arizona, California, Florida, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Stanford and North Carolina State are all recruiting him.

"It feels great, but right now, I'm getting recruited on potential," said Noah, who will attend Lawrenceville Prep in New Jersey next year. "It doesn't mean anything. There could be 200 other players with potential right now."

Noah said when his family returns to the United States later in the summer, he'll start narrowing down his list. His mother is in Africa doing missionary work, while his father is touring Europe as part of his reggae band.

"I want to go somewhere where it's competitive, and keep getting better and work hard," said Noah, 18. "I want to feel that I can shine."

What makes Noah shine is boundless energy, a charismatic personality which has drawn adidas executive director Sonny Vaccaro to his games and an aggressive, hustling nature. A power forward now, Noah will eventually need to become a small forward if he wants to play in the NBA. To reach that goal, he'll need to get stronger (he's very skinny) and more comfortable facing up on the perimeter while expanding the range on his jump shot.

Morris is a recent recruiting target as the Tar Heels search for a center to potentially complement Sean May. However, UNC needs to make up ground as Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, UCLA and others have recruited the 6-foot-10, 260-pound monster for quite a while.

Morris is a bull in the paint and runs the floor fairly well for his size. He hasn't shown a jump shot this week because he hasn't needed too thanks to his overpowering size inside. Plus, having teammates Dwight Howard and Josh Smith opens up things for Morris.

Thomas is a player that UNC coach Roy Williams reportedly loved while at Kansas. The Jayhawks are still recruiting him under new coach Bill Self but so are the Tar Heels. Speculation is that if Shaun Livingston ends up elsewhere, Thomas could be the next point guard in line.

Thomas' quickness, solid size and streaky shooting has led some West Coast observers to think he's the No. 1 point guard in the west ahead of UCLA recruit Jordan Farmar. Getting Thomas away from the West Coast will apparently be a big challenge for any college as he reportedly prefers to be as close to Oakland as possible.

Inside Carolina was able to introduce Davis during the ABCD Camp. The 6-foot-8, 235-pound Canadian said UNC, UCLA, Iowa State, Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan State, Syracuse and Arizona are recruiting him.

However, before Davis picks a college, he will need to pick a new high school as he is no longer planning on attending St. Patrick's High School in Elizabeth, N.J.

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