The Duke versus North Carolina rivalry stretches far beyond the basketball court. The two historic programs will be battling again on the recruiting trail for dominance over the Class of 2019. Here’s the five prospects that both schools will be pursuing in the upcoming months.
1. Vernon Carey Jr.
University School (Fort Lauderdale)
Forward / 6-10 / 260
USA Today Chosen 25 Ranking: 3
Duke and North Carolina tossed their names into the Vernon Carey Jr. sweepstakes on consecutive days in August of 2017. The Tar Heels offered the talented big man on Aug. 7, and Duke followed suit the very next day.
Roy Williams will need to perform some magic in the final hours for the Tar Heels to still land the South Florida product. North Carolina made the cut when he trimmed his list to five schools in April; however, recent developments have seemingly placed the Tar Heels behind Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State and Miami in the race for his services.
Carey will take official visits to Duke and Kentucky in October, while having previously visited Michigan State in February and being closely tied to the Miami program through his father. Carey has yet to schedule an official to North Carolina though. The Tar Heels will need that final pitch– because as he’s indicated in the past– Carey is eager to reach a decision before the start of his senior season at University School.
The Blue Devils are in great shape as Vernon Carey might be on track for a November commitment. North Carolina still has some work to do.
2. Matthew Hurt
John Marshall (Rochester, Minn.)
Forward / 6-9 / 210
USA Today Chosen 25 Ranking: 7
Matthew Hurt might be the most heavily-recruited prospect in the entire country. The 6-foot-9 power forward from Minnesota is in high demand as a result of his ability to spread the floor with a deadly accuracy from three-point range. The recruiting process is also seemingly wide open, according to Hurt.
In an interview with Guy Limbeck from the Post Bulletin, Hurt dismissed rumors that his involvement with the United States U-18 National Team, coached by Bill Self, indicated any sort of leaning towards Kansas. Richard Hurt, Matthew’s father, also spoke with Limbeck revealing that his son’s early favorites are Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Minnesota, North Carolina and UCLA. Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams both conducted in-home visits with Hurt in April.
Despite what Hurt might say publicly, I’d say that playing under Bill Self for more than two weeks does provide the Jayhawks with a major advantage. Minnesota is also a heavy favorite as the hometown option, and because his brother, Michael Hurt, is a junior on the Gophers basketball team.
Duke and North Carolina will continue to heavily pursue Matthew Hurt, but I expect the battle to be fierce.
3. Armando Bacot Jr.
Previously at Trinity Episcopal School (Richmond, Va.)
Will transfer to IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) for Senior Season
Forward / 6-9 / 235
USA Today Chosen 25 Ranking: 22
Armando Bacot announced his top 10 schools last October with Duke and North Carolina both making the cut.
In a recent interview with Steve Clark from 247Sports, Bacot named Duke, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and VCU as the schools pursuing him the most. Roy Williams has been especially active in his recruitment. Over the course of three months, from late December to late March, Williams took four trips to Richmond. Bacot also took unofficial visits to Chapel Hill for home games against Duke and NC State during the winter.
Bacot has been a priority for Duke and North Carolina since his sophomore year at Trinity Episcopal. Although North Carolina has seemingly sprinted out ahead in recent months, the calculating Blue Devils are still squarely in the mix. Bacot has visited the Duke campus on four different occasions since 2016.
The race for Bacot appears like it may turn into a heavyweight fight between Duke and North Carolina. Bacot will likely trim his list to five schools soon, I’d expect Duke, North Carolina, Georgia and Oklahoma State to be listed, with the fifth spot being filled by either VCU or Virginia Tech.
4. Cole Anthony
Archbishop Molloy (Queens, N.Y.)
Point Guard / 6-3 / 180
USA Today Chosen 25 Ranking: 1
The recruiting process of Cole Anthony has been a mystery from the outset.
Greg Anthony, Cole’s father and a 12-year NBA veteran, spoke with Clint Jackson from Rivals recently saying that the family isn’t seriously focused on Cole’s recruitment yet.
“It’s just a different environment today. So we’ve tended to not really focus on [recruiting].” Anthony said. “We’re probably going to make a decision next Spring, which gives us an opportunity to start focusing on schools, and systems and coaches and personnel and all of that stuff for the upcoming season.”
Anthony’s silence makes it difficult to speculate; however, he did visit with coaches from Duke, Louisville, Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon and Villanova in April as reported by Andrew Slater from The Athletic and Adam Zagoria from ZAGSBLOG.com.
North Carolina has yet to offer Cole Anthony, but Roy Williams and his staff have actively watched him on the Nike EYBL circuit. Kansas, Kentucky, Miami, Pittsburgh and St. John’s are also expected to be contenders, but it’s really too early to determine any favorites.
For their part, Duke has positioned itself well in the early stages of Anthony’s recruitment.
5. Wendell Moore
Cox Mill (Concord, N.C.)
Small Forward / 6-6 / 205
USA Today Chosen 25 Ranking: 18
I’ve saved the best for last.
The recruiting battle for Wendell Moore will be the most contentious fight within the state of North Carolina in 2019. In addition to Duke and North Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest are also in the mix to create a true Tobacco Road turf war.
South Carolina also made the cut when Moore trimmed his list to five schools in May.
For starters, the battle for Moore is deeply significant because he’s the state of North Carolina’s top prospect in the Class of 2019. Most scouting services have Christ School guard Jalen Lecque listed higher than Moore; however, Lecque is a New York City kid that’s only played at the North Carolina boarding school for one season. Moore, on the other hand, has been lighting up the Carolinas since his freshman year at Cox Mill in Concord, N.C. Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams both offered Wendell Moore as a freshman, which is somewhat unprecedented territory for both coaches.
The two coaching legends had only ever offered one freshman before Moore. For Coach K, it was Marvin Bagley III, and for Williams, it was Harry Giles.
All that to say, the stakes are extremely high for Duke and North Carolina in this battle.
Moore has official visits scheduled to Duke, NC State, South Carolina and Wake Forest in September, but has yet to plan an official visit with North Carolina. Moore has conducted several unofficial visits to Chapel Hill in the past, but that all-important official could tip the scales, especially when considering the fact that he’s looking to make an early decision, as he stated in an interview with Corey Evans from Rivals.
I’d pick Duke to be the favorite at this point with NC State, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wake Forest coming in a close second.