Checking out what's left in '03

After missing on their two top post targets from the class of 2003, the North Carolina staff must now look elsewhere. However, most of the top interior prospects are off the market by now. So is there anyone left worth pursuing? And if there is, are the Heels too late to get seriously involved?

The staff is now evaluating some options from the class of 2003 as well as continuing to develop their relationships with some premier big men from the class of 2004 -- but the problem is that there aren't many talented interior players left on the board in the senior class.

One certain power forward/center, however, is the focus of heavy national attention. His name is Linas Kleiza from Rockville (Md.) Montrose Christian Academy. And, UNC head coach Matt Doherty has already made some contact there.

"Carolina called a couple of weeks ago," said Montrose assistant David Adkins. "They wanted to see if they could get involved with Linas, but coach [Stu Vetter] wouldn't let them in."

Kleiza, who will likely sign in the spring, is already down to six schools and at this point, no other programs are going to be let in the picture at this time.

"It wasn't just Carolina," Adkins added. "Florida and Indiana wanted to get involved as well. But these other schools have been on him the whole time and he can't just let everyone who missed on some of their top big guys just jump in here. That wouldn't be right."

Adkins, however, did leave a small glimmer of hope for the fans of Indiana, Florida and North Carolina:

"If any of these other schools drop off his list for some reason, he may consider letting someone else in."

Kleiza's current list of schools are Missouri, NC State, Florida State, UConn, Virginia and St. Johns. And the strong Lithuanian is supposed to be in Charlottesville today to take in the campus of Virginia. Adkins confirmed that Missouri is currently the team to beat.

With the majority of talented big men off the market -- Kleiza, a supreme rebounder and workhorse in the paint, is one of the best big man left in the country.

Considering the situation with Kleiza, the UNC staff is likely to check out several other remaining 2003 post players. The Heels have already inquired about Paulius Joneliunas, a skilled 6-10, 240-pound Lithuanian from Roanoke (Va.) Catholic, and Femi Ibikunle, a 6-7, 220-pound native of Nigeria attending New Hampton (N.H.) Prep.

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