Bossi's Best: The "must-get" players for 10 top programs
With the month of July’s three live periods just under a month away, the question on the table is this: Which prospects fall into the category of “must-get”? In this week’s Bossi’s Best, National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi looks at 2018’s final AP Top 25 and discusses which 2019 target is most important for the teams that finished in the top 10.
MORE BOSSI'S BEST: The 10 most intriguing recruiting battles to watch | Projected NBA first-rounders who have surprised | The 10 toughest beats of the past five years | Teams most impacted by the NBA Draft Combine
1. Virginia - Drake London
Why he’s a "must-get": The more I see London play, the more I can’t help but think that Tony Bennett has a vision of Malcolm Brogdon 2.0 when he watches London. The physically tough, smart and rapidly improving London is the type of guy Bennett has turned into a star in the past. Also important here is that London is a high-level wide receiver recruit, as well, and wants to play both basketball and football. North Carolina wing Patrick Williams is another key target for the Cavaliers that is reaching "must-get" status.
2. Villanova - Bryan Antoine
Why he’s a "must-get": A talented combo guard with size, skill and shot-making ability, Antoine looks like a great fit for Villanova. Jay Wright’s teams have been so good the past few years because of interchangeable parts, lots of shooters and knowing that they have an alpha personality to go to as a scorer, and Antoine would seem to fit that bill perfectly. Not to mention, the Jersey product is right in the Wildcats’ Mid- Atlantic recruiting wheelhouse.
3. Xavier - Harlond Beverly
Why he’s a "must-get": The Michigan scorer is somebody Xavier has spent a bunch of time with, and new head coach Travis Steele already had a great relationship with him while he was an assistant under Chris Mack. Steele and his staff have cast a pretty wide net in the 2019 class, but given all the factors, Beverly looks like their best chance to make a splash with a big-name target.
4. Kansas - Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
Why he’s a "must-get": A skilled and aggressive power forward, Robinson-Earl looks like a perfect fit for Bill Self’s offense, and he would allow for more of a return to the high-low offense. Robinson-Earl is especially important if Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson leaves for the NBA after the 2018-19 season. On top of that, Robinson-Earl is a homegrown kid who was raised about 45 minutes from Allen Fieldhouse. Self has to love that he gets to coach Robinson-Earl this month on USA Basketball’s 18U National Team.
5. Michigan State - Keion Brooks
Why he’s a "must-get: The Spartans should be in pretty good shape regardless of what happens in 2018-19 recruiting. Sure-shooting guard Josh Langford or big man Nick Ward could leave for the NBA after their junior seasons, but they are far from locks to leave early. Even so, a strong 2018 class has the Spartans covered across the board. Brooks stands out, though, because he is a skilled combo forward who can shoot and rebound that would give the Spartans some offensive kick and polish that they might not have in that spot.
6. Cincinnati - Diante Smith
Why he’s a "must-get": The Bearcats always do a pretty good job of keeping their true intentions under wraps, but it’s hard to imagine that Smith isn’t a major target for them. The soon-to-be four-star wing is an athletic and attacking wing who fits the mold of guys who have had success for them in the past. They also have need for an impact wing player. I have to figure that they are eager to see Jacob Evans get drafted and use his development as a major selling point.
The competition: Smith was one of the hottest names of the spring evaluation period and has Auburn, Xavier, Florida, Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech, USF, Miami, TCU and many more chasing his services.
7. Michigan - D.J. Carton
Why he’s a "must-get": The Wolverines are already ahead of the game after landing their primary – and maybe most necessary – target in Jalen Wilson, a top 40 combo forward. Like in-state foe Michigan State, John Beilein has Michigan in good shape for 2019-20 regardless of who he does or doesn’t get, but Carton is as close to a "must-have" as there is. He’s got explosion, he’s a ball-mover and a year to learn under Zavier Simpson could be huge for his development.
8. Gonzaga - Drew Timme
Why he’s a "must-get": The Zags are another squad that is already in good shape with 2019 recruiting and roster stability. Already in the fold are a pair of in-state products in tough four-star combo forward Anton Watson and high-scoring, three-star point guard Brock Ravet. Who better to round things out with than a skilled big man like Texan Drew Timme? He can handle, he takes up space, he’s a great passer and he racks up points and rebounds.
The competition: Timme has been very cautious not top tip his hand and has Baylor, Illinois, Texas, Kansas State, Arizona, Oklahoma State, TCU, Purdue, Virginia, Florida, Ohio State and many more chasing him.
9. Duke - Vernon Carey Jr.
Why he’s a "must-get": As loaded as the Blue Devils 2018 recruiting class was, the one thing the class lacked was a great low-post scorer. The way things stand, they are looking lean on the interior for this season and beyond, so an impact guy like 2019’s current No. 1 player – and likely another big man, too – has got to be up there.
Some could say a point guard like Cole Anthony tops the list, but as good as freshman Tre Jones should be, he doesn’t look like a one-and-done, so Duke should be OK at the point whether they get Anthony or not. But if the Blue Devils miss on an impact big man for a second year in a row ,things could get interesting in Durham.
10. North Carolina - Armando Bacot
Why he’s a "must-get": Bacot isn’t the sleek, super-mobile big man that Roy Williams has loved to have in his big-man friendly system. But, Bacot is skilled, rebounds very well and while the Heels will still have size during Bacot’s freshman season, their lone skilled post scorer, Luke Maye, is going to be long gone. UNC is considered to be in great shape with Bacot early, which makes locking him up even more important.