"Most people feel like they don't have a great feel for Arthur and his recruitment because for whatever reason he's been shielded from the media and others," said leading analyst Dave Telep, of Scout.com. "So it's hard to get a good bearing on those types of situations."
For that reason, it's unwise count out any team on his final list of five schools.
"I think Arthur is a guy who can go to any school on that list," Telep said. "Kansas is pushing extremely hard, Texas clawed their way back in, Baylor is still in the mix and SMU is trying, too. The lone school that requires a long trip is UNC -- he's got four of the five schools in his backyard, so it tells you something about the kid in terms of whether or not he's leaning toward leaving that neck of the woods."
Arthur, a 6-9 forward from Dallas (Texas) South Oak Cliff, is ranked the No. 3 power forward in the senior class by Scout.com and No. 12 overall. While he showed flashes of greatness on the circuit this year, the consensus among experts was that he had a quiet, if not underachieving, summer – which Telep says is misleading and not reflective of his full ability and potential.
"When he switched AAU teams mid-way through the circuit, he got out of his comfort zone and there was a lot of stuff going on off and on the court around him that affected his play," Telep said. "People shouldn't be fooled by a sub-par summer for him - he's won a state championship and been an elite prospect for three years, so there's no doubt he's a winner and a top talent.
"He's a unique combination of inside power and outside presence. I think writing him off because of a sub-par summer by his standards is making a mistake. Switching AAU teams and all the stuff off the court affected his play. There were a lot of distractions around him this summer, so it was understandable."
Deon Thompson, on the other hand, was an unknown entering the summer and suddenly burst onto the scene with some jaw-dropping performances in July. After losing 40 pounds and then dominating several elite opponents, his recruitment immediately transformed from the likes of San Diego State, Pepperdine, Nevada and Pacific to such programs as Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA. But since there's been so little time to get to know the interested college coaches, his recruitment has been tough to decipher in these early stages.
"That's why I'd be surprised if his recruitment didn't go full term in taking all his visits," Telep said. "The coaches have had no more than seven weeks to form a relationship with him following the summer. No [high-major conference] teams stepped up other than Arizona State until after the Big Time Tournament in Vegas. It's hard to form a relationship with this kid in July. He needed the home visits just to meet and get to know the teams that are interested in him. The first time a college coach could see him face to face was Sept. 9, so only the last few weeks have schools really been able to make in-roads with him."
This month, he's completed official visits to Gonzaga and Connecticut, while also making an unofficial trip to Kentucky – though that doesn't necessarily mean the Wildcats are the current leaders.
"He went to see family and incorporated a visit to Kentucky," Telep said. "Make no mistake, UK is in there, but so are a few other schools.
Thompson has said the Kentucky trip could be replaced by UCLA, since he's already been to Lexington. He also still lists Wake Forest and Arizona State.
"I think in Deon's mind he separates schools by playing time possibilities. As much as anybody else, he's looking at personnel - he's thinking, ‘Since I didn't get a long time to get to know these schools, I need to make my decision on how much playing time I can get.' He wants to know how many real players are in the frontcourt - not how many are signed or on scholarship - how many are legitimate players that he's going to have to contend with."
Thompson now checks in at 6-8, 250 pounds and his tremendous play in the final weeks of the AAU season catapulted him up the rankings. He's now ranked No. 22 in the class by Scout.com and is the No. 3 center – which means Telep considers Greg Oden and Spencer Hawes as the only better center prospects in the senior class.
"The Sean May comparisons are off base," Telep said. "He's more of a skilled Eric Williams (from Wake Forest). Sean May had more perimeter skills than Deon Thompson. Thompson is a guy with a growing basketball IQ who, like Williams, is fiercely working on his body -- he has post moves, he's a finisher -- he's a consummate five man with a great feel for the game and great skill."
With this being the second of three big recruiting weekends (the third features Brandan Wright and Duke Crews on Oct. 14), the North Carolina staff is getting ready for the dominoes to fall into place.
"I'm sure Roy Williams, if he were to be honest, would admit that Spencer Hawes is far and away their top guy," Telep said. "After that, it's about combinations. If they could get a commitment from a Hawes and/or Thompson, that would open up a few different scenarios for any remaining scholarships."
For video, photos, scouting reports and interviews with Darrell Arthur and Deon Thompson, check out Inside Carolina's Basketball Recruiting Central. And check back at the end of the weekend for full coverage of their visits to Chapel Hill.