Friday, February 15, 2019

McDonald's Nuggets: Duke's on fire; 'Ant Man' is for real; more

Duke was the obvious pick for the Team of the Week.
Analyst Dan McDonald cooks up his weekly serving of McDonald's Nugget by talking about his team of the week, his top amateur player (it's not Zion) and an interesting recruiting update.


This was such an easy call. Duke’ started the week by completing a season sweep of fourth-ranked Virginia on the road by 10 points. That by itself could be enough of a reason to make the Blue Devils my team of the week, but that’s not where the story ends.
Duke trailed 59-36 on the road against 16th-ranked Louisville on Tuesday night with just over 9 minutes to play. It looked hopeless for the Blue Devils, but then 
 returned to the game after sitting out for a long stretch with foul trouble. Coach K also inserted sophomore guard   into the game, cranked up the pressure with a 2-2-1 zone, and next thing you know Duke is leaving the Yum Center with an incredible come-from-behind win.
As if it wasn’t already a popular opinion, this Duke team is going to be really, really hard to knock out, come NCAA Tournament time. It appears to me that the Blue Devils have figured out roles and have the confidence in themselves to go win in any environment.

HOT TAKE: 'Ant Man' best amateur pro prospect in America 

 going No. 1 overall. If you look at 2020 mock drafts, it’s a little more up in the air as to who could be the top pick, which is understandable given that it is so far out.
, the No. 2 overall player in the 2019 Rivals150 and recent Georgia commit, should not only be the top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, but he’s the best amateur basketball prospect in the country right now, Williamson included.
Like Zion, although not to the same extent, Edwards is a physical freak at 6-foot-5 with a big, strong frame. He’s become a very good shooter. He has pro ball moves, and he’s always been a very crafty finisher who can also finish with some violence at the rim if needed. He can be as good of an on-ball defender as any guard in the country when he is locked in. The area he’s probably elevated his game the most in the past year is becoming a better lead guard. He’s very unselfish and has a good feel for keeping his teammates involved. He has the perfect temperament to be the leader of a college program and eventually an NBA franchise.
To back me up on this, I sought out one of his travel teammates with the Atlanta Xpress last summer, Clemson signee and four-star guard 
. Prior to last travel season, Hunter’s recruitment was pretty slow, but he took off last year while playing alongside Edwards.
“He was a great teammate for me because he was always working hard and wanting to get better, so he pushed me and made me go harder,” Hunter said. “He wasn’t cocky or arrogant with all the recognition he received, and he was always congratulating me and posting about me on social media whenever something good happened. In games when I was on a roll, he would let me go to work, but at the same time, if I wasn’t on my game, he would let me know. He was just always challenging me to be better. He is easy to play with.”
That’s about as high of praise as you can get from a teammate.

RECRUITING NOTE: Trendon Watford focused on three 

6'8" 224 LBS PF
 is one of six five-star prospects in the 2019 class who has yet to make a college decision. Early on it was thought that Alabama would be really tough to beat in his recruitment with Florida StateIndiana and Mississippi State all heavily involved.
His recruitment shifted a little bit last spring as the coaching carousel played out. When Penny Hardaway ended up at Memphis and hired a strong recruiting staff, the Tigers became the school many pegged as the favorite to sign the versatile forward out of Alabama. Will Wade’s Tigers also worked their way into the picture since last summer, and some have LSU as the leader for his signature in April. It still wouldn’t be wise to count out Alabama here, as the pull to the Crimson Tide is strong for in-state prospects.
I still have my FutureCast pick in for Memphis. Others have recently put in picks for LSU, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought long and hard about switching mine as well. Those two appear to be strong here, although I have had coaches in the area tell me to not be surprised if a blueblood type program comes in late to sway him.

PREDICTION: Tennessee loses at Rupp, Duke returns to No. 1 on Monday 

Jordan Bowden
AP Images
Kentucky lost at the buzzer in overtime on a controversial call - in Rupp Arena of all places - to a really talented LSU team. Life doesn’t get any easier for John Calipari as the Wildcats next play host to No. 1 Tennessee in a prime time ESPN game on Saturday night.
Tennessee has won all 11 of its SEC games by a combined 183 points. The Vols have been every bit as impressive as that stat sounds. Tennessee’s lone loss this year came in the NIT Season Tip Off to a Kansas team at full strength with 
 and   both playing. Tennessee’s streak comes to an end at Rupp in front of a rowdy Big Blue Nation crowd on Saturday night. The good news for the Vols is they have Kentucky coming to Knoxville in early March for a chance at a potential payback.