North Carolina tracked Adidas-sponsored D1 Minnesota‘s 17U team through all five evaluation periods this spring and summer after deciding early on to make 2019 forward Matt Hurt a priority in the rising sophomore class.
It turns out Hurt wasn’t the only D1 Minnesota player the Tar Heels had their eyes on.
UNC assistant Hubert Davis recently contacted Jericho Sims, a class of 2017 post player who boosted his stock in a major way this AAU season.
“I think it’s fair to say North Carolina is recruiting him,” said D1 Minnesota head coach Jeremy Miller. “He (Davis) was just checking in, seeing if the interest would be mutual if they got involved. He was telling me how good they think he can be in the future. But he was more so gauging Jericho’s interest in North Carolina.”
So, is their mutual interest?
“He’s interested,” explained Miller. “He’s wide open right now. He’s getting a lot of new calls every day. We’re researching them and they’re researching him. The next step (for UNC) was to reach out to Jericho and his family, do their due diligence on that end and kind of understand the person they’re recruiting. They do a really thorough job.”
Sims, who plays at Minneapolis (Minn.) Cristo Rey Jesuit, has grown from a 6-1 freshman to a 6-9 senior. According to Miller, one thing sticks out when watching him play.
“He’s just a freak athlete,” Miller said. “He’s one of the best athletes in the country. He’s light on his feet, we can switch him onto any position and feel good about it. He has an insane vertical leap. I haven’t seen many players in my years that can get off the ground like him.”
“He can finish with his left or right hand and if you watch him play over the course of a game you won’t be able to tell what hand he is,” continued Miller. “He’s ambidextrous. It gives him the ability to go over both shoulders and change his shots like few others I’ve ever coached.”
Cristo Rey Jesuit is a small high school in a conference that has no one capable of challenging Sims. The D1 Minnesota practices were a little different. In addition to Hurt, who received a UNC offer two weeks ago, D1 Minnesota also features Wisconsin commitment Nathan Reuvers.
“Being on this type of AAU team, where there was other skilled height, has helped Jericho,” said Miller. “Every practice was a battle and I think he saw that there are a lot of good players out there and that he has to work to keep the advantage on those guys. I think this is the first time he’s been matched up with other bigs that are really good and it pushed him to another level.”
Sims holds offers from Ohio State, USC, Creighton, UConn, Virginia Tech, Florida, Oregon, Auburn, Clemson, Texas, Xavier, UNLV and Iowa State. He’s also receiving interest from Baylor.
"Sims is an excellent run/jump athlete in the mold Roy Williams has utilized so successfully throughout his career," said Inside Carolina's lead recruiting analyst Rob Harrington. "He's mobile, bouncy, plays within his own game and has the kind of frame that should enable him to gain strength quickly for college competition."
Added Miller: “I think we’ll see him spike in the fall when the rankings are updated. His ceiling is as high as anyone in the country right now.”