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UNC Basketball: A Family

Two high-level recruits just mentioned that one of the biggest criteria they are looking for in making a college decision is a family environment. They're in luck, because UNC has cornered the market on 'family'.

Family.

It is a gift.
The gift of connection.
The gift of being part of something bigger than yourself.
The gift of being forever intertwined and united with other human beings.

Family is a gift we are all searching for. Because, at the end of the day, we all crave human connection with the people who care about us the most.

We all want to be known.
We all want to be valued.
We all want to be loved.

I am blessed in that I am part of a loving, caring, and nurturing family. Unfortunately, not everyone can say the same. Those who have a loving family are grateful for it. Those who don’t have a healthy family situation are hoping for it.

At the end of the day, whether we have a good or bad family situation at home, we all desire to be part of a family.

These statements ring true now, more so than ever as we all try to find our way in this current uncertain landscape. Sure, we physically have a connection to the people we live with. And we digitally have a connection to anyone willing to FaceTime or Zoom or Skype (or the verb form of any of the other myriad of video conferencing products available to us).

But the digital connection, while an acceptable substitute, is not the main intended form of human family connection that any of us are searching for. The real, truest version of family involves being physically present with those people whom you so dearly love.

So what does this mean? Why am I talking about family in an article about UNC Basketball?

Because that’s exactly what recruits are looking for: family.
And you know who’s got family?
The University of North Carolina Tar Heel men’s basketball program.

Don’t believe me? Check out these recent quotes from 2021 guard Hunter Sallis and 2022 guard Jaden Bradley.

In an interview that came out on Tuesday, Sallis talked with Rivals’ Eric Bossi about the different schools recruiting him, how he’s navigated these past couple months, his timeline for committing, and the following question:

“How do you differentiate between a recruiting pitch and something that is real?”

Here’s Sallis’ answer:

“It is how genuine they sound. The things we have noticed are different. Like my mom has noticed, and she likes this a lot, that when coaches call me son and they treat me how they would their own kids or they talk to me how they would their own kids, my mom loves that. My parents love that. When they talk about the team being a family, my mom if I do leave home she wants me to go somewhere that I’m comfortable and not homesick because I feel like I’m around family there.”

Did you catch all the familial language in his answer?

His family notices (and likes it) when the coaches call him son.
His family notices (and likes it) when the coaches treat him like their own kids.
His family notices (and likes it) when the coaches talk to him how they would their own kids.
Then he literally said the word family. Twice.

“My mom wants me to go somewhere that I’m comfortable and not homesick because I feel like I’m around family.”

Hunter Sallis is looking for a family.
And you know who’s got family?
The University of North Carolina Tar Heel men’s basketball program.

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What about Jaden Bradley?

Also on Tuesday, 247Sports published an article from Brian Snow about Bradley's recruitment. 

Similar to Sallis, they discussed the schools recruiting him, how he’s handling COVID-19, etc.

Snow mentions that “Bradley and his parents are simply taking it all in on the recruiting trail and not rushing into anything. While there is no hurry, Bradley does know what he will be looking for in a program when the time does come to ultimately decide.”

What do you think his first answer was?

Offensive system? Nope.
Playing for a certain coach? Nope.
Playing at a school that has the best track record of getting players to the NBA? Nope.

The number one characteristic Bradley mentioned when making his college decision:

“I am mainly looking for a family environment. I want to go somewhere I can be for a couple of years where I can grow on and off the court.”

There that word is, once again: Family.

Jaden Bradley is looking for a family.
And you know who’s got family?
The University of North Carolina Tar Heel men’s basketball program.

Keep in mind, these aren’t some low-level recruits. Both Sallis and Bradley are five-star prospects looking to make a home, a place to come back to. They aren’t just hoping to breeze through as the train passes by on the way to the NBA. They want to get off at the station and create lasting memories and relationships.

By the way, have you noticed that each time I’ve said “The University of North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball program”, that I’ve used the word “program” and not “team”?

Here’s why: The concept of family isn’t some new or contrived concept for Carolina. At UNC, family runs deep. “Team” carries a connotation of one year, one season. “Program”, on the other hand, includes players now and past and all that will come in the future. Family is not just tied to one team for one season in Chapel Hill. Family at Carolina is a way of life. It’s DNA. It’s a program-wide mentality that is fostered by everyone from Roy Williams on down to the lowest member on the totem pole.

So let me put a bug in your ear Hunter Sallis and Jaden Bradley (and all you other recruits out there looking for a family):

North Carolina is the place to be.

Stay with AllTarHeels for all your recruiting information. We’ll update you on Hunter Sallis' and Jaden Bradley’s recruitments as they unfold, as well as all other North Carolina recruits.

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