Evans Seven: Biggest questions heading into Early Signing Period
In this week's Evans Seven, Rivals.com Basketball Recruiting Analyst Corey Evans examines the biggest questions surrounding the 2020 class now that the Early Signing Period is on the horizon.
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2021 Rankings: Rivals150
HOW DOES KENTUCKY ANSWER ITS FRONTCOURT CONCERNS?
There was a reason that Kentucky pursued VIrginia Tech transfer Kerry Blackshear so strongly this summer. The Wildcats knew that they needed help down low, and they didn't get it. Now Kentucky has to hope that Nick Richards, E.J. Montgomery and Bucknell transfer Nate Sestina can get the job done this season.
How UK goes about replenishing its already slim frontcourt for next season is a significant question. The Wildcats could go the small ball route, and we may see them do that a lot this upcoming season, but that still wouldn't meet its paint-producing needs. The 2020 class is already a slim one for low-post types, so unless Kentucky reclassifies a member of the 2021 class, land Lance Ware and Cliff Omoruyi, and/or go the grad-transfer route again, this will be a consistent source of anxiety for Kentucky.
DOES MEMPHIS HAVE STAYING POWER?
Memphis inked the top-ranked 2019 class in the country, but can Penny Hardaway turn the Tigers into a top-five regular in the recruiting rankings or was this year an anomaly The Tigers have zero commitments for the 2020 class, but are in good shape with five-star guard Jalen Green. Jaden Springer and Matthew Murrell are two others to track in the backcourt, while Isaiah Todd and Greg Brown are top frontcourt targets. Memphis has also begun to pick up traction with top-60 centers Mady Sissoko and Cliff Omoruyi. There's still a long way to go until the 2020 class is put to bed, but plenty of questions remain about the Tigers' staying power as one of the elites in basketball recruiting.
HOW DOES DUKE ADDRESS ITS NEED ON THE PERIMETER?
Matthew Hurt can fill a huge need this season for Duke as a consistent perimeter threat for the team, but he may be gone this time next year. Who will provide outside shooting in 2020? The Blue Devils have already secured two five-star recruits in Jeremy Roach and Jalen Johnson, but neither is known for their ability to make shots. They were involved with B.J. Boston, who would have filled that role, but he committed to Kentucky.
Duke has shifted its focus to Ziaire Williams and D.J. Steward, but the program is likely playing catch-up with both prospects. This will remain a concern for the Blue Devils until a clear-cut answer is in the fold.
DOES NORTH CAROLINA REMAIN THE BRIDESMAID?
North Carolina has narrowly missed on a number of its top targets in recent years. Whether it was Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Matthew Hurt, Tre Mann or Josh Green, the Tar Heels finished as the runner-up in some of the more high-profile recruitments.
Will this year be different? They are a finalist for a number of Rivals150 prospects but, then again, no commitments are imminent. RJ Davis, Caleb Love and Bryce Thompson are just a few of the standout prospects that are expected to visit Chapel Hill this fall. Can North Carolina finish things off or will the program enter the spring sweating it out like last year?
DOES CADE CUNNINGHAM SIGN AND IS IT TO OKLAHOMA STATE?
The biggest wildcard of them all, Cade Cunningham has remained adamant that he will commit and sign this fall. Even though his brother, Cannen Cunningham, was recently hired as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State, the five-star guard maintained that he was not going to make any quick decisions. Instead, Cunningham trimmed his school list down to 10 and then to five, and is now working on scheduling official visits for the coming months.
If Cunningham does ultimately commit to the Cowboys, it would come as no surprise if a handful of other talented seniors joined Cunningham in Stillwater. Now the question is, does Cunningham land with the Pokes or will a wild card, such as North Carolina, steal the Cowboys’ thunder?
WHO FINISHES WITH THE SURPRISE CLASS?
Florida, Georgia and Washington surprised with top-10 recruiting classes in 2019. Who might make waves with the 2020 class? While we have already seen Houston and Xavier impress early, could there be even bigger surprises on the way?
UCLA is certainly a candidate thanks to Mick Cronin landing five-star guard Daishen Nix. Beyond the Bruins, Oregon could continue its hot streak and land both Scottie Barnes and Makur Maker. What about Auburn, as the Tigers are strong contenders for Sharife Cooper and Walker Kessler? Does Gonzaga swipe Kessler away and also bring Jalen Suggs in with him? Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma State and Providence are a few other dark horses to track.
WILL SOME OF THE NATION'S ELITE GO OVERSEAS?
R.J. Hampton surprised many by reclassifying and opting to play professionally overseas instead of playing in college. If Hampton does well and his NBA Draft stock is not affected by his time in New Zealand, several others prospects could follow suit. Keep tabs on the 2020 class as it could be the tip of the iceberg until the one-and-done rule is erased. These decisions may not be made now or this fall, but rumors could intensify for a select group of prospects in the coming months.