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North Carolina lost out to Kentucky for 5-star power forward E.J. Montgomery on Monday.

North Carolina recruiting: What’s next for Tar Heels after E.J. Montgomery’s decision; Coby White takes home another award

Cody Pace

Join us daily at ACC DieHards for the latest North Carolina recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Tar Heels. Don’t miss any coverage from Cody Pace and the DieHards team. Read his daily notebooks here at 7 p.m. ET Sunday through Thursday. In this edition, we discuss 5-star power forward E.J. Montgomery’s decision to commit to Kentucky and Coby White’s AP Player of the Year honor.

What’s next for North Carolina after E.J. Montgomery’s decision?

North Carolina’s efforts to add another player to its Class of 2018 took a big hit on Monday when 5-star power forward E.J. Montgomery announced his commitment to Kentucky.

Montgomery (Wheeler/Marietta, Ga.) was the only player on North Carolina’s recruiting board in the Class of 2018 until recently. Coach Roy Willams had worked on getting his commitment to longest, so the loss hurts. However, North Carolina never seemed truly positioned to land Montgomery.

For a long time, Duke appeared to be the leader for Montgomery. This was confirmed by Montgomery’s high school coach Larry Thompson, who told SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker that Duke’s lead “kind of changed after the McDonald’s [All-American] game” over concerns about how he’d fit in with Duke’s star-studded recruiting class that featured Zion Williamson, who might’ve interfered with Montgomery’s ability to play his true position as a stretch 4.

John Calipari’s strong, late push for Montgomery ended up helping to seal the deal. Montgomery hosted Calipari for an in-home visit on Sunday, according to 247Sports’ Evan Daniels. Williams was expected to visit this week, as well, as teams waited for Montgomery to schedule his official visits.

Given Williams’ plans this week, it’s safe to say that this commitment comes as a bit of a blind side to the Tar Heels. North Carolina now must regroup if it wants to land another player in the Class of 2018.

The contingency plan likely includes a stronger push for 5-star power forward Jordan Brown (Prolific Prep/Napa, Calif.). As has been reported by several outlets over the last week, North Carolina has reached out to Brown. Brown, the No. 4 power forward and No. 16 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, still doesn’t have an offer from the Tar Heels, but given the Montgomery news, that could change quickly.

Beyond Brown, the only real alternative is 5-star point guard Ashton Hagans (Newton/Covington, Ga.), who’s listed as a Class of 2019 prospect but has been rumored to be reconsidering a reclassification to 2018. North Carolina’s interest in Hagans has been mixed since he de-committed from Georgia; the Tar Heels would prefer to add a player in the front court. Now, Kentucky is surging with him, although Hagans has also denied the rumors about reclassification.

Coby White named North Carolina AP men’s Player of the Year

In positive North Carolina recruiting news, 5-star combo guard signee Coby White (Greenfield/Wilson, N.C.) reeled in another award over the weekend.

White was named to the North Carolina all-state team by the Associated Press on Friday and was also announced as the state’s AP Player of the Year, according to the News & Observer.

White nearly averaged a triple-double in his senior season with 30.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game. He finished his career as the state’s all-time scorer with 3,511 points and led Greenfield to the state championship game, where it ended up as runner-up.

White was joined on the all-state team by 5-star 2019 small forward Wendell Moore, also a Tar Heels target.

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