"When I went to Carolina, it just felt like the place I had to be, it just felt like home basically," said Hoes. "Just the atmosphere they had, the fan base they had, and the coaches are good people."
Carolina's coaching staff displayed a similar excitement about Hoes' decision to be a Tar Heel. "L.J. is a terrific player," said head coach Mike Fox. "He has great instincts and he really loves the game. He has been committed to our program for a long time and that excites us. He is going to have a bright future as a Tar Heel."
The coaches at UNC made a positive impression on Hoes from the beginning of his recruitment. It was their particular style and manner in which they recruited Hoes that made them stand out. "It felt like the coaches wanted me for me," Hoes said. "They wanted me to make their program better, too, but they wanted me as a person more than a player.
Considering the kind of person he is, it's easy to understand why the Carolina coaching staff wanted Hoes as part of their program even if he never even stepped foot on the field at Boshamer Stadium. When asked about Hoes, the opening words from Washington (D.C.) St. John's head coach Mark Gibbs were of the personal nature of his senior leader. "The first thing about [Hoes] is that he's a fantastic kid…he's just a great person," said Gibbs. "He works hard, he plays hard, he just does everything you need him to do to win every game."
Hoes' quality character certainly isn't the only valuable attribute that earned him a UNC scholarship offer, as well as offers from other baseball powers such as Arizona State, Miami, South Carolina, and Alabama. Hoes was ranked by Perfect Game as the No. 47 overall prospect in the nation and the No. 8 outfielder in the nation.
Last season at St. John's, Hoes hit .490 with 7 home runs, 40 RBIs, and 23 stolen bases. "From a playing standpoint, he just does everything well and does it well everyday," Gibbs said. "Ever since he walked through the door at St. John's he's been an extremely productive player."
When asked how significant Hoes' contribution has been to his team, Gibbs responded, "Well we finished 23-6 last year, 22-3 his freshman year, and 26-4 his sophomore year and he has been a huge, huge factor in all three seasons. He's probably led or come second in every offensive category every year. As a freshman he was hitting third on a team that was nationally ranked in the top 25 by four publications."
Although raised in Maryland, Hoes is quite familiar with North Carolina. He has been playing summer ball over the last few years for the Dirtbags, a North Carolina based team that has produced a number of current Tar Heels and future Heels such as Garrison Lassiter and Seth Baldwin.
"They [Dirtbags] called me a couple of years ago to come play in a tournament with them," Hoes said. "I liked some of the guys they had and I liked the coach they had and the competition was really good."
Hoes developed a friendship during his time with the Dirtbags that may have facilitated his decision to come to North Carolina. Hoes admitted, "Garrison Lassiter is actually one of my best friends, we talk all the time on the phone and we talk about being roommates."
Hoes is mostly looking forward to the potential opportunity to go far into the postseason during his career at Carolina. "I want to win an ACC title and ultimately go to the College World Series," said Hoes. "They've been close the last two years and hopefully my recruiting class, if not this year, will be the one to get us a championship. Those are the two main goals and anything personal after that is just icing on the cake."
|Seth Baldwin||OF||Forest City (N.C.) East Rutherford|
|Derrik Gibson||SS/OF||Seaford (Del.) High|
|Matt Harrison||SS||Henderson (Nev.) Green Valley|
|L.J. Hoes||OF||Washington (D.C.) St. John|
|Jason Knapp||RHP||Annandale (N.J.) North Hunterdon|
|Garrison Lassiter||SS||Clemmons (N.C.) West Forsyth|
|Tim Melville||RHP/3B||Wentzville (Mo.) Holt|
|Jimmy Messer||RHP||Hudson (N.C.) South Caldwell|
|Quinton Miller||RHP||Medford (N.J.) Shawnee|
|Jacob Stallings||C||Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood|
|Jeff May||C||Creedmoor (N.C.) South Granville|
|Brian Goodwin||OF||Rocky Mount (N.C.) High|
|Levi Michael||MIF||Lexington (N.C.) North Davidson|
|Chris Munnelly||RHP||Lewisville (N.C.) Forsyth Country Day|