This writer's first suspicion was that kids might be willing to change their addresses from coast to coast because they had heard that highly respected players from the west such as Quentin Thomas and Marvin Williams signed with the Tar Heels.
But in the final analysis, these "Kings of Cali" and the west coast have dared to dream of spending four years away from their home state because they think they can realize their dreams of winning a national title. No, money, it's not about the shoes –it's about winning championships at a storied program.
Looking at the class of 2005 out west, some very talented players are seriously considering becoming future Tar Heels.
At 5-11, Andre McGee of Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs is a consensus top 15 player in his class with speed to burn and unparalleled scoring ability, as evidenced at last year‘s ABCD camp. He stated that he could have the chance to play early on for a title contender at UNC in what he calls "the most important decision in my life." The only thing more finely tuned than his hoops game are his grades, as he sports a 3.7 GPA.
Mario Chalmers is a top 50 class of 2005 whippet-like guard. He is an extremely active 6-1 scoring machine from Alaska with a very high basketball IQ. It was recently stated in SLAM Magazine that his game is so cold that he might end up being better than Carlos Boozer or Trajan Langdon. He loves the UNC tradition and coaching, but having a great multitude of his family still living in North Carolina able to watch him play is an added bonus that attracts him there. From sitting among a number of Pac-10 coaches last summer who were evaluating Chalmers, he received consistent glowing praise.
Marcus Johnson rounds out this trio of 2005 west coast kids prominently listing UNC. He is a capable 6-6 high major leaper from Los Angeles (Calif.) Westchester, and has expressed interest in the Tar Heels, along with Syracuse, Connecticut, Kansas and Arizona. And those aren't the only three west coast talents listing UNC, as there are many others, including elite wing Martell Webster from Seattle.
The class of 2006 out west is extremely rich and there are a number of players who have stated a strong interest in North Carolina.
Leading off is Darius Logan, a guard prospect that turned heads last year with his performance in the California state quarterfinals as well as the toughness and savvy he displayed against NBA players in the Sacramento Pro Am. Logan has already received some early offers, but he wants to hold off for the chance to play in the conference on the other side of the map. "I can fulfill my destiny in helping a great school win it all while representing my home state in the ACC," Logan said.
Next, deep in the heart of California struts out Andre Borrows of Perris HS, who's strong and oozes potential as a 6-2 combo guard – and local analysts such as Greg Hicks think he has high major potential.
Borrows is already eying UNC. "Roy Williams' coaching will bring out the best in me," he said. He went on to explain that he has many relatives living near North Carolina which have further heightened his interest.
Chris Polk of Glendale (Ariz.) Deer Valley is a shooting guard that built quite a reputation playing in the Pangos All West Camp last year. He is considered a top 25 player in 2006 by many because of his fluid shooting and offensive instincts for one so young.
Polk said last week that while the entire Pac-10 is recruiting him hard, he too will give the Tar Heels serious consideration.
"UNC is a place I have loved following for years," he said. "Carolina is the only program outside of the Pac-10 I could really see myself at after high school."
Big Eugene Crockett is an affable and agile brickhouse at 6-9, 260 pounds. The sophomore from Sacramento (Calif.) HS is a top 100 player by early projections and is already garnering interest from Pac-10 schools.
"I'm a big Michael Jordan fan," Crockett said. "I would love to follow in the footsteps of Carolina's most famous alum."
Interestingly, he went on to say that his school list will center on only Nike JumpMan-sponsored school. Thusly, California and Cincinnati are among his other favorites besides UNC.
Potentially, UNC could have some top ball players migrating east in the next few years to build up a pipeline – one that Roy Williams firmly established while in Lawrence, Kansas.
Thomas wasn't surprised at the number of area players interested in following his lead to play for UNC. He offered up his reasons for selecting Carolina and gave advice to anyone considering a move to play far away from home, as he has chosen to do.
"You just have to follow your dream, you have to look at the best program that will develop you as a person and player," Thomas said. "I liked how my Kansas and Arizona State visits went -- the guys there treated me well -- but North Carolina made me feel like family and it just felt right picking them."
Thomas went on to say that other elite players being offered to play at UNC hastened his decision.
"There is a lot of competition in being offered at Carolina," he said. "I'm going to live out my dreams by playing there.
"Good luck to all those kids in finding their dream school they want to play for."
Here is a list of some of the West Coast stars that have expressed an interest in North Carolina.