In his short time as UNC’s head coach, Hubert Davis has shown an ability to connect with players and families, competence with the transfer portal and skill that ensures players’ obligations with affiliation with Tar Heels. What he had not yet done was receive an obligation from a highly ranked, start-from-day-type high school player. That all changed on Friday with the announced commitment from the five-star striker Jalen Washington.
6-foot-9 forward from Gary (Ind.) West Side, ranked No. 21 in the country view by 247Sports Composite, UNC selected over offers from Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisville, Maryland Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame , Oklahoma, Purdue and Stanford.
“He just felt really comfortable with the coaching staff in North Carolina and the relationship that he’s built over the last few months,” said Sean Smith, Washington’s skills coach and assistant coach. “He came to me recently and said he was ready to make the decision, and to make a decision like this you need to have the comfort and confidence of the people who will be caretakers in your future.”
Added West Side head coach Chris Buggs: “I think what they build suits him as a person. The family atmosphere, his parents love it, and it just controlled a lot of the boxes they were looking for.”
Davis’ pursuit of Washington began in his first few weeks as head coach. Sean May, Indiana, is Washington’s leading recruiter for Tar Heels. After seeing Washington shine during a few spring events this spring, Davis offered a scholarship in early May. Shortly afterwards, Washington paid an official visit to Chapel Hill on June 2.
The North Carolina staff spelled out their expected role for Washington during the official visit.
“They showed me what their big do and what ‘4’ does in their system – to run the floor, start the break, stretch and place the floor, place in transition,” Washington explained. “They said they did not have anyone who was exactly like me, but that they see pieces of former players in me. They felt I could be something good.”
The only other official visit Washington has taken to date was Stanford, the weekend of June 12th. He took unofficial trips to Marquette and Purdue in late June. Washington joins the guard Seth Trimble and forward Will Shaver on UNC 2022 Commitment List.
Washington impressed Eric Bossi, the national basketball director for 247Sports, with his game this spring.
“When he first came on the field two years ago, Washington was a tall and slender businessman with an athletic ability to get out in transition,” Bossi wrote. “Now he has overcome a knee injury and has turned into a skilled face-up player. His footwork in the post is far above average, he is a very dangerous shooter from the depths and has a presence on the floor beyond his years. The maturity he plays with is remarkable. “
After missing part of his freshman season with a shoulder injury and his entire second year due to a knee injury (ACL), Washington averaged 13 points, six rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Match that led the West Side to Indiana Class 4A semifinals in the past season.
“He’s a new age,” Buggs said Inside Carolina. “He can shoot it really well from 3. He shot 40 percent from three-point this year and was our best three-point shooter. He can also lay the ball on the floor, lay up, defend well. He is tall, athletic, can move, run the course.He is a new-age ‘4’ who can do anything … he has worked hard to build his skill.He has great footwork, good finishing ability and he is a good shooter.I think now, he is actually a better player because he not only trusts athletics.He has an understanding of the game and a really broad skill.It has helped him to become a player who can do many different things.
“Coach Davis really harped on him as a basketball player. I think that’s one of the things that made him comfortable. He’s a unique player, he does not just want to shoot three and does not just want to post. He is a true versatile player. “