The Memphis-based squad — coached by Penny Hardaway — has been a powerhouse through two days at the Peach Jam as well.
And blue-chip forward P.J. Washington stands out as the primary factor why. The rugged, increasingly versatile forward has established himself as one of the country’s most tenacious players, and his team continues to reap the benefits.
On Thursday, he led his club to a pair of resounding victories over formidable opponents. Washington went for 16 points and nine rebounds (8-12 FG) against the Albany City Rocks and 22 and 12 versus top-15 center Mitchell Robinson and ProSkills.
Through three contests here he’s averaging 18 points and nine boards on 52 percent from the field.
It’s no surprise, then, that some of the nation’s best programs launched full-scale recruitments long ago. North Carolina certainly slots among those, and Roy Williams’ sales pitch has been true to both his personal and the Tar Heel program’s recruiting style.
”I’m really close with Roy,” Washington said. “He told me he was going to be at all of my games. It just shows loyalty.”
Williams famously locks in on his commitments and top targets to illustrate interest with action, not only words. Those actions have led to the Tar Heels getting an unofficial visit earlier this summer, and Washington said they’re among four programs — also including Kentucky, Arizona and Texas — that are pursuing him most ardently.
Most of Washington’s other comments represent the consistent themes of his recruitment. He wants to play both inside and out in college — and says that’s how the UNC coaching staff intends to utilize him — and that he’s attempting to sharpen up his ballhandling and shooting in order to best exploit mismatches.
The next step will be digging more deeply into his recruitment. The affable forward has a plan in place following competition this month.
”I’m trying to get my officials set up (in August) and then make my decision from there,” he said. “(Then) decide around December or January.”
Washington is a nearly certain McDonald’s All-American and, if the Tar Heels could land him, very well could be their highest touted recruit from the Class of 2017.