Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tarczewski Race Tightens: Is There a New Leader?

Southborough (MA) St. Mark's product, Kaleb Tarczewski, first visited Kansas last summer for the Jayhawk Invitational, and then again for Kansas' Elite Camp, and then again for a game in the 2010-2011 season (Kansas State), and then yet again last week with his family in tow. It is safe to say that Kansas and assistant coach Joe Dooley got in early with Tarczewski and a close relationship has formed. Throughout the process, Tarczewski has relied on the input of both his family and former Boston Celtics coach (and current AAU coach with the NE Playaz) John Carroll. The 5-star big man's AAU coach has similarly formed a relationship with Dooley and with the Kansas program over the years. Carroll has been active in the recruiting process throughout, and this summer has both publicly and privately stated that he expects Tarczewski to commit to a school by the end of August.

With all of these facts in mind, it would seem that Tarczewski is a virtual lock to commit to Kansas. Or, at least it seemed that way until this week.

On June 13th and 14th, Tarczewski finally made his way back to Chapel Hill for an unofficial visit after trying numerous times in the preceding months to schedule the trip (including at or around the time of Bob Gibbons' TOC which was sadly gutted this year). Tarczewski came with his parents so that they could see the campus and speak with the coaches. He was hosted primarily by Tyler Zeller and got to meet a host of team alumni in town for camps and other engagements. He and his family received a full tour of the facilities and campus and spoke, in some depth, about his potential academic focuses should he choose Carolina. In addition, the coaching staff laid out for him the opportunities he might see on the floor as the UNC front court projects to be depleted if or when the big man might arrive on campus. In short, Tarczewski received the full treatment.

However, the real news lies in reports that have trickled out in the last 24 hours about how Tarczewski reacted to the visit and how the players reacted to Tarczewski. The big man reportedly "fell in love" with Chapel Hill. According to multiple sources, Tarczewski fit in perfectly with the personality and culture of the team, and by the end of the visit both recruit and players were talking to each other as if his commitment was no longer a question, but an eventuality. Finally, Tarczewski was reportedly "very impressed" with the "family atmosphere" around the basketball program.

While Kansas has long been the widely acknowledged frontrunner for Tarczewski's services, recent rave reports about his visit to Chapel Hill quite possibly indicate that the race has tightened, or even that there is a new leader. About a month ago one source stated quite plainly of Tarczewski recruitment, "UNC is in the game now. Roy has turned his head," and now the question is whether his visit to Carolina was enough to turn the tides.

Tarczewski will be one of the few top prospects not at the NBAPA Top 100 Camp this week and will be taking an unofficial visit to Arizona on June 20th-21st. No official timeline for a decision has been set by Tarczewski, but consensus on the summer circuit is that a decision will come this summer.