'[UNC] always wanted him'

When Mario Chalmers traveled from Alaska to California at the end of last summer for a basketball tournament, he played for a local team put together by his father a few years back. The name of the squad? The Alaska Tar Heels.

Chalmers' father/coach, Ron, admittedly is an avid UNC fan and there is no coincidence in the name of the AAU team, but he's trying to remain objective as the staff in Chapel Hill has stepped up its interest of late.

"I'm not living my dream through my son," Ron said. "This is totally about him and my job is just to help guide him."

Mario, a 6-2, 175-pound Bartlett High (Alaska) junior floor leader who will take his first official visit this weekend to Arizona, also grew up a Tar Heels supporter.

The old Matt Doherty regime showed Chalmers plenty of love, but Roy Williams and his staff really hadn't done much more than send the token letter until recently.

However, all that appears to have changed now that it looks as though JamesOn Curry will never end up donning Carolina blue.

"I think Roy assessed what he had and his main focus was to lure big men, but with the current situation it's opened back up with Mario," Ron Chalmers said. "My honest opinion is that they always wanted him, but it was just a matter of numbers."

"We want to keep our options open and we'd like to visit Carolina, the elder Chalmers added. "But we want to make sure wherever he goes, it's the right fit for him. We have to assess the situation and see where Mario fits in at each school."

"My dad talked to them and they said they were going to turn up their recruiting of me," Mario said. "This week I got six or seven letters."

North Carolina has yet to offer Chalmers a scholarship unlike the other handful of schools that comprise his elite half-dozen at this time: Marquette, Wake Forest, Kansas, UCLA and Arizona.

Chalmers, who is hoping to make a college decision by November, has two more games before the playoffs begin. The team is 16-3 with all three of his losses coming against non-Alaska teams.

Chalmers averaged 10 points his freshman year and 15 his sophomore campaign, but he has begun to look for his scoring a lot more this season and it's translated into 28 points per contest.

Chalmers and his father will be the first ones to admit that the level of competition isn't really up to par. In fact, the family has been contemplating a move to North Carolina – where Chalmers still has plenty of family – for more than a year.

"I'd like to move so I can play against better competition," Mario said. "But we haven't made a decision on that yet."

Regardless of whether Chalmers leaves Alaska for his senior season, he'll play with the Pump ‘N Run team this summer, which will be coached by his father. The first chance to get a look at Chalmers will be at the Kingwood Classic in Houston in late April.

"I've always liked North Carolina since I was little," Mario said. "But as far as front-runners goes, I really don't have one right now."

Scouts View: Chalmers is a savvy floor leader who likes to get his teammates involved and makes good decisions. He can knock down the perimeter shot and also take the ball to the basket and finish. Chalmers has gotten bigger since last summer and so has his defense, according to coaches who have seen him play this season. He'll still need to work on his on-the-ball defense, though. He thrives in an up-tempo system because of his athleticism and intelligence.


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