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Sacha Killeya-Jones (left) is looking for a new home, and North Carolina has made his short list.

North Carolina recruiting: Tar Heels make cut with Kentucky transfer Sacha Killeya-Jones

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.com team. Read his daily notebooks here at 7 p.m. ET Sunday through Thursday. In this edition, we discuss North Carolina’s renewed recruitment of Kentucky transfer and former 5-star prospect Sacha Killeya-Jones.


Tar Heels make cut in pursuit of Sacha Killeya-Jones

Last week was a busy week for the Tar Heels on the recruiting trail, but mostly because of prospects who decided to go in different directions.

Both E.J. Montgomery, a 5-star power forward, and Ashton Hagans, a 5-star point guard, announced their commitments to Kentucky. That leaves North Carolina with just one prospect — 5-star power forward Jordan Brown — on the Class of 2018 recruiting board.

Over the weekend, that kind of changed with news that North Carolina was one of several schools involved in the recruitment of Kentucky transfer Sacha Killeya-Jones. Killeya-Jones would have to sit out a season wherever he commits, so he won’t be able to play until the 2019 season.

It’s not surprising to see the Tar Heels pursuing the former 5-star power forward, given that they were involved initially when he was the No. 7 power forward and No. 23 overall player in the Class of 2016 (247Sports composite rankings).

North Carolina isn’t the only school involved with the former McDonald’s All-American. More than 30 schools reached out to Killeya-Jones in the month following his announcement that he’d be transferring from Kentucky, according to The Courier-Journal’s Fletcher Page.

Per that report, Killeya-Jones’ mother, a research associate at North Carolina’s school of pharmacy, said her son already has narrowed down his list to 10. That list includes the Tar Heels, as well as Arizona State, Clemson, Georgetown, Nevada, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Texas and Wake Forest.

Over his two seasons with the Wildcats, Killeya Jones played in 48 games, averaging 3.2 points and 2.7 rebounds over 11.7 minutes per game.

How Sacha Killeya-Jones affects 2019 recruiting

The recruitment of Killeya-Jones will be an interesting one to watch, because it will greatly affect how North Carolina recruits the Class of 2019.

The Tar Heels have targeted several high-profile recruits in the Class of 2019, including James Wiseman and Vernon Carey Jr. While North Carolina hasn’t gotten much traction with either, it has had success pursuing players such as 5-star center Armando Bacot, Roy Williams’ top Class of 2019 target, 5-star center Will Baker and 5-star power forward Matthew Hurt.

Because Killeya-Jones will commit with 2018 prospects but won’t play until 2019, it’s possible North Carolina could soften its recruitment of players such as Hurt and Baker if Killeya-Jones ends up in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels’ Class of 2019 likely will have four prospects, so a lot depends on if Williams targets two or three front-court players.

If he opts for three, leaving 4-star point guard commit Jeremiah Francis as the class’ only guard, the immediate impact of a Killeya-Jones commitment likely will be minimal, although it could end the recruitment for a player such as 4-star shooting guard Josh Nickelberry.

Tar Heels offer Class of 2020 running back

North Carolina’s staff has put a high priority on the running back position in the Class of 2020.

Running backs have more offers than any other position in the class and make up more than 15 percent of all offers.

That list increased last week when the Tar Heels offered 3-star Class of 2020 running back Deondre Jackson.

Jackson may only rank as a 3-star prospect by 247Sports, but he’s already seen some high-profile interest, including offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Ohio State and Tennessee.

The nation’s No. 37 running back and No. 312 overall player has 15 offers.

Miss a previous edition? Find every ACC DieHards daily North Carolina Tar Heels recruiting notebook right here.