Joe Jaconski always picks the University of North Carolina to win the national championship in his March Madness bracket.
His room is painted Carolina blue. His father has a North Carolina sticker on his car, and he has tons of North Carolina apparel.
Jaconski has dreamed of going to North Carolina for the last several years. Now, the sophomore shortstop from Plymouth Whitemarsh gets to say he’s a Tar Heel after committing to his dream school as a freshman in October 2017.
Jaconski reached out to North Carolina after he played up in age at a tournament in Florida with many scouts present earlier in the month. Then the Tar Heels invited him down for a visit.
“I knew that this was a huge tournament and a lot of the scouts were there, but I wasn’t expecting them to be looking at me,” Jaconski said. “I was a 15-year-old kid playing in a 17-year-old tournament.”
“I couldn’t even speak. I was blown away about how I wanted to go there so bad,” he said of the invitation to visit Chapel Hill.
When North Carolina hosted Jaconski, he was treated to the Tar Heels men’s basketball opener, toured the campus, met the baseball coaches, and watched the team practice and work out.
Although the North Carolina staff took him around the campus, it wasn’t the first time Jaconski had seen it. He had visited the campus at least 10 times before he was recruited.
Whenever Jaconski would play in the Southeast for a baseball tournament, he would go out of his way to visit the campus. He said he even made two spontaneous road trips from the Philly area with his father, just to take in the campus and watch the baseball team.
“When I was walking out of the stadium for the first time three years ago, I turned to [his father] and I told him, ‘I’m going to play here one day,’” he said.
During one visit, the North Carolina coaches handed Jaconski some paperwork. It was a scholarship offer. Although Jaconski was in talks with several other schools, this was the opportunity he had been waiting for. He signed the paperwork right then and there.
“It was kind of crazy because they put the paper in front me and offered me and there was just dead silence, I had no response,” he said. “I wanted to go there, my dad touched my arm, and was just taken back. I said yes and just accepted.”
Now that Jaconski has picked his college so early, he’s able to focus on the rest of his high school career. The lefthanded hitter batted .405 with with a .500 on-base percentage as a freshman and was off to a .400 average with a .666 OBP this season in the Suburban One American Conference.
Though Jaconski’s dream came true, it still won’t come to fruition for another three years. It hasn’t really sunk in.