The Buckman family welcomed North Carolina head coach Matt Doherty and assistant Doug Wojcik into its home in the Austin suburbs on Tuesday night.
Brad, his parents (Tammy and Brent), and the two coaches sat around the dining room table enjoying Mrs. Buckman's fajitas – and chatting about Tar Heel basketball.
"It was great," Brad told Inside Carolina enthusiastically, minutes after the in-home visit had concluded. "I thought it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing both coaches and talking with them."
First impressions of the coaches?
"Doherty is really a player's coach – he's really nice about being with you and [talking with you about] what you need," Buckman said. "He answered every question. He said his players come to him when they're in a bind or they're not feeling very well, and so it seems like his players really like him a lot and get along really well. [Coach Wojcik] seems like a really nice guy – a young, wild guy."
"He's a lot warmer than I envisioned him to be so that's a good thing," Tammy Buckman said. "And Coach Wojcik is really a good guy."
The Carolina head coach touched on a variety of topics throughout the visit, which lasted 2 hours and 20 minutes.
"[Coach Doherty] talked about his past. He talked about how he was a basketball player and how he understands what I'm going through. He showed us a little paper about what he needs for next year and for what my year is going to look like – it showed that there's a spot open for me to step in and play [as a freshman] if I was to go there. He said the downside would be not starting but [the upside would be] having a lot of playing time."
Doherty drew a comparison to the star player on his Notre Dame squad of 1999-2000, which struck a chord with Buckman.
"They're looking at me as a forward," he said. "It's going to be like Troy Murphy."
Buckman's parents had their share of questions, which also covered non-basketball issues.
"We went over tutoring, we went over academics," Tammy Buckman said. "We went over, you know, if Brad's girlfriend broke up with him – is Coach Doherty the kind of guy he could go and talk to? Yes. We addressed all the things that we're really looking for – play, and where he sees Brad, do they see each other going the same direction. All those things."
Looking back on what he had learned from the visit, Buckman reflected on the Tar Heel program's prevailing pros and cons.
Pros – "Playing time and definitely exposure, and also learning the skills – what you need to take it to the next level after college.
Cons – "Probably the high expectations you are going to have going to play there, because you know people are going to be expecting."
Buckman's mother explained that she thought the main advantage the Tar Heels had was tradition.
"They have a good basketball system," she said. "The academics are probably about the same as Texas, but I would probably say their long history of a good system; a basketball program that's got a history."
Buckman began his round of four official visits with a trip to Kansas last weekend. He said he enjoyed the trip and benefited from being able to get a genuine look at the team.
"I had a lot of fun hanging out with the players – getting to know the players and getting to talk to them," he said. "And seeing, not just [the words], but the truth behind [them]. What the players think. What they think of the coaches."
The Kansas visit was an eye-opener, Buckman said, as he now sees that there are real viable alternatives to hometown Texas – the school which has been dubbed ‘the team to beat' by recruiting analysts.
"Well, it's always been a school of mine but [they're not the team to beat] right now," he said. "After taking that visit to Kansas, it's really opened it up – just to see what other schools have to offer and how they're just in the same way as Texas. It will change your mind."
And Buckman's parents expressed similar sentiments.
"You know what? I just told my husband: I'm happy with Kansas and I'm happy with these guys," Tammy Buckman said, referring to the Carolina coaches. "Brad is going to have a tough decision to make but I know he'll do a good job."
Buckman has two more in-home visits over the next two days, with UCLA on Wednesday and Kansas on Thursday, he said. Then, it's off to Chapel Hill for the official visit to Tar Heel country.
"I want to go see the campus and see how that is, but it was good to get some of the questions out of the way tonight," he said.
Note: IC asked Buckman about the recent reports that Dallas star point guard Bryan Hopkins has de-committed from SMU and may choose the Longhorns. Buckman indicated that it would "not really" influence his decision.
For much more on Buckman, check out IC's Brad Buckman Profile.