Monday, August 27, 2018

Rivals Roundtable: Next big commit, must-gets and more

Reprint from Rivals.com - By Eric Bossi, Corey Evans, Dan McDonald
Rivals.com
This week in the Rivals Roundtable, basketball analysts Eric BossiCorey Evans and Dan McDonald give their opinions on a number of topics. Which highly ranked player may be next to end his recruitment? Whose recruitment should have taken off even more? Which remaining target is the most important and who needs a spot in the next set of 2019 rankings?
What top 50 senior do you think is closest to making a decision and where do you think he's headed if he picks soon?
 30 
NATIONAL
   
STATE
   
POSITION
RANK
N/A
6'4" 170 LBS PG
THE VILLAGES
THE VILLAGES, FL
CLASS OF 2019
UNDECIDED
Bossi: I can’t guarantee that he will be next, but top 30 point guard 
 sure looks to me like he’s getting close to making a decision. First of all, we all thought the high-scoring Floridian would have been off the board by now, but after spring visits to Florida and Tennessee and a final three that also included Kansas, Mann elected to open things up late in the summer.
As far as I can tell, the opening has basically amounted to the door being opened for North Carolina to jump in and make a play. Now that Mann has visits set up with the Tar Heels (Sept. 14) and the Jayhawks (Sept. 21), I feel like we’ll be seeing him move towards making his decision in the relatively near future. If that happens, Carolina looks to have some momentum going in its favor.
Evans: I would not be totally surprised to see 
 call it a day with his recruitment in the coming weeks. While Kentucky has been messing around and has shown varying levels of interest since the top-50 center demolished the month of July, West Virginia has remained a steadying presence throughout his recruitment over his past three years. The Mountaineers have had great success with   and Tshiebwe is even better than his fellow Congo native at the same stage in their developments. Baylor and Illinois are two more programs to watch with Tshiebwe as they will host him the first two weekends in September, where Kansas is also involved. With all that being said, I could see him deciding to put an end to things and call Morgantown has his next stop a year from now.
McDonald: I think 
 is inching closer to a decision. He recently narrowed down his list of schools from nine down to four with ClemsonDukeMichigan State and Tennesseeremaining. For a while now, this has felt like a battle between Duke and Michigan State. Both Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo were regulars at his games throughout July, even if he wasn't even playing like the last weekend in Orlando. Coming off a visit to Duke a couple weeks ago, if this ends soon, I'd give Duke the edge here. A visit to Michigan State or either of his other finalists could potentially change that.
Which senior's recruitment are you most surprised hasn't turned into a total brawl between blueblood programs?
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Jayden McDaniels
Matthew Hatfield, VirginiaPreps.com
Bossi: Texas big man 
. Don’t get me wrong, his recruitment is very high level as he’s down to a final 10 of AlabamaArizona, Gonzaga, IllinoisLouisvilleMichigan StateOklahomaPurdueTexas A&M and Texas Tech. But, given his competitive fire, high level of skill and productivity I’m a bit shocked that we never saw others like DukeKansasKentuckyor North Carolina look to make a serious move with him.
Wherever he ends up, I see Timme as a guy who not only produces on the floor but helps to ignite his fanbase with him as a favorite. The headband, the beard, the trash talk and his herky jerky style will all make him easy to cheer for if he’s on your team. If you are playing against him, he will be easy to hate and from what I’ve seen of him, he will enjoy that role just as much as he will fan favorite.
Evans: The easiest answer is 
, right? I mean, the kid is all that you look for in an elite, blueblood prospect that can do a variety of things and on either end of the floor. Washington, SDSU, TexasOregonKansasArizona and Oklahoma are the main programs in contention and while Kentucky and Duke have placed an initial phone call into the McDaniels household, it is still mind boggling that they have not just offered, but better yet, made him a priority.
I get that he is from the Pacific Northwest and it is oftentimes difficult to lure prospects from such a locale, especially entirely across the nation, but McDaniels’ ascent into the top-five of his class’ rankings is well warranted; the same should have been said for his blueblood recruitment, a situation that has yet to play itself out and might not have the chance to do so this fall.
McDonald: I've been a huge advocate of 
 for a while now and I'm surprised his recruitment isn't hotter than it is. Part of that may be due to the wide belief that he'll ultimately end up at Memphis either way, but it also could be related to him not having as good of a travel season as he did high school season. I just think Watford's versatility and feel for the game is next level. I see him being the type of player a program can build around for a few years.
If you had to choose a single "gotta have him" target for any program in the country who do you think is most important and why?
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Nico Mannion
Nick Lucero/Rivals.com
Bossi: Oh man, there’s some pretty good choices out there. A case could be made for both Memphis and Kentucky regarding 
 and   is way up there for Kansas.
I’m going to head out West, though, and go with five-star point guard 
 and ArizonaSean Miller and the Wildcats are looking to put the 2017-18 season in the past for all kinds of reasons and a homegrown talent like Mannion could go a long way towards building some positive mojo. He’s well known, he’s fun to watch, he appears to be a fit and landing him could allow Miller to send a pretty clear message that he’s not going anywhere and that he’s here to stay as one of college basketball’s big-time recruiters.
Evans: I could go one of two ways here but I will side with Penny Hardaway needing to get Wiseman as opposed to John Calipari needing to land Wiseman at Kentucky. Hardaway was hired for one primary reason and that was to get the best. Josh Pastner did a fine job of landing a number of Rivals150 prospects and despite the negativity that surrounded the Tubby Smithtenure, he still found ways to keep the program competitive. Hardaway, the prodigal son of the city, is expected to just not win, but win big and in doing so, secure the best that the nation has to provide and bring back recruiting to the level that it was back when Calipari was in Memphis.
Hardaway coached 
 and  , three Memphis commits, on the travel and high school circuits. However, none of them had the cache of Wiseman, a national priority for the best. If he can topple the don of the recruiting world for the elite target, the ramifications of such an event will be felt throughout the nation. If not, Tigers’ fans will be holding out hope for another day when what Calipari did at the AAC program might be achieved again.
McDonald: There can't be a school in the country that would receive a bigger boost than Washington would if Mike Hopkins is able to convince 
 to stay home for his year of college basketball. There is a real argument that he's the best long-term prospect in the class. Washington has generally done a pretty good job of keeping really talented local kids home, but rarely is there a prospect of this caliber nearby. McDaniels could be a true program-changer for Hopkins and his staff.
We'll be starting discussions to update the rankings over the next week, what one player would you be most upset about if he didn't make the updated rankings and what's his recruitment look like?
   
NATIONAL
   
STATE
   
POSITION
6'3" 180 LBS SG
WESTLAKE
ATLANTA , GA
CLASS OF 2019
VERBAL COMMIT
8/22/2018
CLEMSON
Bossi: I’m going to stay local and go with small forward 
, who had a huge summer playing for MoKan Elite. Braun’s high school is about a 20-minute jog from my front doorstep and his steady maturation into a high-major prospect has been impressive to see.
He’s always been a fiery competitor, skilled and had a nice all-around game, but Braun has taken things to a new level over the past few months. Offensively he can drive and stick jumpers and he’s grown to about 6-foot-6 and it seems like he’s got some growing left to do. The summer resulted in offers from IllinoisKansas StateMinnesotaMissouri (where his brother 
 will be a freshman), OklahomaTexas Tech and Wake Forest among others and I don’t have any doubts in my mind that he’s going to end up a nice player at that level.
Evans
. I always keep a watchful eye on prospects that might play two sports throughout their high school careers before deciding to focus all of their time and attention on one. Drumgoole was a more than recruitable football prospect for the past two years but has made the move to La Lumiere for his final year of play and in doing so, decided to give up football.
While I thought that he was a solid glue guy for the mid-major ranks following my prior evaluations of him, it was at his final event in July that either he saw the light come on, or I finally awakened. He is not just a small ball power forward anymore but a good-sized 3-man that can really make shots. DePaulGeorgia, and Maryland are the first power conference programs to offer. GeorgetownTexas and South Carolina have become involved, too.
A month from now, Drumgoole should hold near a dozen high-major offers but beforehand, I hope that we have a number next to his name, inserting the New Yorker into the Rivals150 for the first time.
McDonald: I'd be downright salty if 
 doesn't crack the updated Rivals150 for the 2019 class. He's probably worthy of being a four-star prospect and ranked closer to the middle of the 150.
I've done a complete 180 on Hunter since the beginning of July. After watching him multiple times during his junior season, I was never on board with him being a high-major prospect, but it's certainly possible I saw him on the wrong nights. I carried this opinion through the early parts of the travel season. But he completely won me over in July as he looked like a player who really worked on his game during June and really became a more consistent player. He's always been a pretty good shooter, but I also see him as a real threat off the bounce now, and I also view him as a somebody who will be an All-ACC caliber defender.
Hunter committed to Clemson earlier this week over offers from GeorgiaMichigan State,OklahomaVirginia and several others.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Evans Seven: Programs riding a wave of momentum into the fall

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USC's Andy Enfield
AP Images
The July evaluation periods have come to an end, and the next few weeks will lead to the majority of the Rivals150 players coming off the board. In this week’s Evans Seven, we assess the programs riding the greatest momentum into the fall, the ones that have the chance to finish the early signing period atop of the national rankings.

1. KENTUCKY 

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John Calipari
AP Images
Kentucky will remain a major threat on the recruiting front as along as John Calipari is the head coach in Lexington. The Wildcats lost the commitment of top 50 forward 
 on Monday, but they filled that hole with Thursday’s commitment of four-star  . More could be to come, as they will host five-star wing   this weekend and the Wildcats sit as the favorites in his final eight. 

In the end, however, all things lead back to 
. Memphis has picked up some ground there, and no one should ever discount a Calipari priority. If Wiseman declines the UK offer, could   become a Kentucky Wildcat? Many believed that it was a done deal for Duke, but Kentucky has made up major ground with the top 2019 prospect and should be deemed a legitimate contender for his commitment. 

The Wildcats remain a threat for five-stars 
 and   and if they do decide to pursue  , they could leapfrog into the favorites category for him, too. Throw in the already-secured commitment of top 10 guard   and it is clear that there are sunny days ahead for the SEC flag-bearers.

2. USC 

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Onyeka Okungwu
Nick Lucero/Rivals.com
While most of the talk will be about its potential, USC already has celebrated the commitments of four top 75 prospects this summer. The gems of the class are five-star big men 
 and  , teammates on the loaded Compton Magic program. They should immediately stabilize the Trojans’ frontcourt. 

The incoming pool of talent doesn’t stop there, as the Trojans have reeled in one of the top upside wing prospects out West in 
 and a dual-sport athlete in  . The two bring loads of versatility and immediate production to USC’s backcourt. 

The four-man class has allowed head coach Andy Enfield and his staff to prioritize its final need this summer in the backcourt. They sit in a good spot for 
, and  , four-star guards that have become known for their playmaking and scoring. Look for the Trojans to ride out the next few months with a top five class nationally.

3. MEMPHIS 

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Penny Hardaway
AP Images
Penny Hardaway already holds the commitment of four-star big man 
, and more is to come for the first-year head coach. The former NBA All-Star hit the ground running as Memphis patched together a top-25 class this spring and rode the momentum into the July evaluation periods. 

Five-star 
's recruitment is going down as one of the more interesting the industry has seen in recent years. Wiseman suited up for Hardaway’s former travel team during the spring and completed the summer with assistant coach Mike Miller’s former travel team. Alongside Wiseman was five-star forward  , another potential top-tier prospect that could call Memphis home. The new Tigers staff was also a consistent presence at games featuring Jalen Green and  ’ games, proof that they are not afraid to go after the big fish. Much is riding on Wiseman and where he eventually lands, but the month of July did not hurt the Tigers' chances with the big man that Hardaway formerly coached on the travel and high school circuits.

4. DUKE 

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Mike Krzyzewski
AP Images
While the Blue Devils have yet to strike in the 2019 class, they still sit in a great spot for some of the best in the Rivals150. Five-star guard 
 will take an unofficial visit to Durham next weekend, and Coach K and his staff were a consistent presence at most of his games in July. If it's not James in the backcourt, it could be top-ranked guard  . While he and his family have kept things close to vest, many believe that the Blue Devils sit among the teams to beat. 
 is down to a final five, but it looks as if it is a battle between VillanovaFloridaand Duke for him. Meanwhile, Duke remains among the top contenders for   and  . Keep tabs on  , too, as the five-star 2020 guard could reclassify into the 2019 class, and Durham could be his college landing spot. 

The Blue Devils are not struggling to find traction in the frontcourt, either, because 
 and   see the Blue Devils in a good light. Chances are good that Duke lands two of the four, and that would reflect a solid month spent on the road for the Blue Devils.

5. OHIO STATE

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Chris Holtmann
AP Images
Chris Holtmann worked wonders in the coach’s box last winter, and he did the same on the recruiting trail in Ohio State's fight for a premier 2019 class. He began with 
, a tremendously talented forward and the best in-state prospect. The momentum of the program got ramped up another few levels when the Buckeyes defeated Michigan and Indiana for five-star guard  . Many believed that OSU was the third horse in the race, and Carton’s commitment was a boon for Holtmann’s crew, one that gives the program the chance to place even greater attention on completing its class earlier than many others. 

The Buckeyes' top target is 
, a top-50 forward. He will visit Columbus in September, and while Ohio State will have to defeat IllinoisMissouriKansas State and a handful of others, Liddell could end up in Columbus. OSU also used July to gain greater in-roads with  and  . Chances are the Buckeyes land at least one of those Rivals150 prospects, which would equate to a top-tier class this fall.

6. UCONN 

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Dan Hurley
AP Images
The administration in Storrs hired Dan Hurley not just to win ballgames but also to win some of the bigger recruiting battles. The Huskies are in a prime spot to do just that. While they have yet to strike in the 2019 class, their chances of doing so - and in a major way - are clear. 
Their top target, 
, is a top-10 forward that many believe is a recruiting battle between UConn and St. John’s, with the Huskies in the slight lead.  , one of the top performers in July, is a highly coveted prospect that Hurley’s bunch is definitely atop of the pecking order for, along with SyracuseProvidence and Georgetown  is another name to keep tabs on, as is  . They are two interior prospects that think highly of UConn. 

The backcourt remains a bit of a mystery, but the Huskies have a solid chance with Rivals150 guard 
 and they have begun to actively recruit  and  . Three months from now, UConn could have a top 10 class nationally. That's something Huskies fans have not been able to say since their Big East days.

7. VILLANOVA 

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Eric Dixon
Kelly Kline / Under Armour
Jay Wright has been unable to be a part of the final evaluation period because he is a staff member for the United States senior national team. But Villanova has come out of July with tons of momentum, and could end up with its best class in recent years. 
Villanova has already secured the pledges of four-star seniors 
 and  . However, the best could still be to come, as the Wildcats are the dark horse for top-10 big man  , though defeating Duke and Michigan State may be difficult. But the Wildcats also have a more-than-solid chance with either   or  , a recent reclassified guard into the 2019 class, is down to a final 10, though many believe his commitment will come down to ArizonaDuke or Villanova
, a travel teammate of Dixon’s, has kept Villanova high on his list. Josh Green, a travel teammate of Mannion’s, has not said much about his recruitment, but rest assured that the Wildcats sit in a good spot.