Scott Phillips/Inside Carolina

Future Tar Heels Jalek Felton, Rechon Black Establishing Bond

The two UNC commitments teamed up again last weekend.

CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- When Rechon Black committed to North Carolina earlier this year, he quickly heard from future teammate Jalek Felton.

While the two guards are a class apart, Felton reached out to the younger Black to establish a relationship with his future Tar Heel teammate. Felton and Black, from the Class of 2017 and 2018, respectively, have built a solid bond the last few months both talking and playing together. They teamed up on Black's Team Loaded NC squad earlier this year and then played together again, this time with Team Felton, this past weekend at the Under Armour Association Finals outside of Atlanta.

Black and Felton both said that they now frequently communicate.

"[We talk about] everything, honestly. Not even necessarily basketball. He'll just hit me up. He's a good dude," Black said of Felton.

"I think that says a lot about his personality on and off the court. He's a good person and I just look up to him as a big brother."

On the court, the duo looked like they were starting to find a rhythm during the event as their team advanced to the semifinals before falling to eventual champion We-R1 and top prospect Trevon Duval.

"I feel like I've learned a lot these last three games playing with my future teammate Jalek Felton and a couple of these other guys. I feel like it's a good experience," Black said. "It's not even Jalek, it's the whole team, so I feel like I've been playing with these guys all summer."

Felton said of playing with his future teammate:"It's good, kind of getting that chemistry and getting a good feel for him. I know what he can do and he knows what I can do, so we're learning each other's strengths and weaknesses."

The event was also notable for Black because he's still adjusting to playing against national competition at the top age level.

"This summer I've improved a lot in my first couple games playing up on 17U," Black said. "I feel like it's been a blessing, honestly just to play up with these guys. I've learned a lot."

"The first couple of games you get beat up and you hear, 'he's not ready, he's not ready' but then you don't want to get beat up every game. So you have to come prepared to say, 'enough is enough' and you start playing with them."

Black wasn't trying to be a scorer for Team Felton at the UAA Finals but he excelled in moving the ball and defending. Black had a 2.3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio and also guarded multiple spots on the floor while averaging 2.0 steals per game.

"I can score, but it's like, sometimes I don't have to score," Black said. "So I'll do the dirty work like rebound, defend a couple different guys if I need to. I feel like I don't have a weakness, everything just needs improvement."

Meanwhile, Felton was superb at times during the UAA Finals and had one outing in which he was completely dominant. For the week, Felton put up great numbers as he averaged 21.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.0 steals per game while shooting 52 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range.

"I had a good spring, a great spring. I want to finish out well," Felton said, as he's got one last week of AAU ball left in his high school career.

Playing with aggressiveness on both ends, Felton said that he was focused on being a more complete player at the UAA Finals. Defensively, he played with more intensity than he had at times during the spring.

"Defense and being more of a leader on the court in all facets of the game," Felton said. "Being a leader, being more vocal on the court with my teammates, and having my offense just get in my sets when we don't score in a few possessions just to get my team going."

Although Team Felton fell short of the title and Black showed some growing pains playing in a high-level setting, the future Tar Heels looked in sync as co-ball handlers and often found each other on tough passes.

The growing relationship between the two guards can continue on the court in Chapel Hill. Felton enrolls at UNC next summer and Black is sure to be a frequent Chapel Hill visitor until he enrolls in the summer of 2018.


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