Jalek Felton, a 5-star recruit who many thought was one of the prizes of the Tar Heels’ 2017 freshmen class, has decided to leave the team and university amid an investigation and suspension into an undisclosed matter. Felton, a shooting guard who picked North Carolina over Kansas, South Carolina, Louisville and Wichita State, has not played in the team’s last 8 games.
A statement written by Felton’s lawyer Kerry Sutton stated the school turned its back on the Columbia, SC native and nephew of former Tar Heel standout Raymond Felton.
“There is nothing we’ve heard that justifies UNC’s actions against Jalek Felton. He had faith in UNC’s future when no other five-star recruit did. UNC has turned its back on him. I spoke with Roy Williams today and he obviously feels the pain of Jalek’s crushed dream to play at UNC. Jalek will land on his feet, but our battle here is far from over.”
(Well, that statement was ominously shady)
— Κerry Sutton ⚜ (@kerstinwsutton) March 1, 2018
Now the question is, what does this abrupt departure mean for the Tar Heels heading into March?
Other than locker room chatter, I don’t anticipate this decision will change the dynamic of the team short-term. This season Felton has averaged 9.7 minutes a game and 2.9 points. The hope at the beginning of the season, was that the 5-star recruit at minimum would be able to provide a nice spark off the bench, but other than a few flashes of potential (notably against Western Carolina and Ohio State), Jalek’s contribution to the team has been minimal.
But let’s not kid ourselves, when it comes to future seasons, losing someone as talented and athletic as Felton will hurt. He has the type of potential to be a go-to player and leading scorer and with the departure of Joel Berry, Roy Williams will be looking for more leadership and scoring in his back court.
It’s also important to note the shade Felton’s lawyer threw at UNC in her statement when she said he was the only 5-star recruit in his class who had faith in UNC’s future – alluding to possible NCAA sanctions surrounding the schools “paper classes” that have since been cleared. That was a obvious message that will be heard by other recruits that he feels the program wasn’t loyal to him as a player and top recruit. Other prospects will see this and may think twice on signing with Roy.
The details surroundng Felton’s suspension are still unknown and would obviously shed more light into the decision by both him and the team. But for now, Felton is on the market for a new team and Roy for a new shooting guard. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went to South Carolina to play for Frank Martin.