In this week’s Evans Seven, we offer up seven predictions for the 2018 calendar year, including the upcoming commitment of Zion Williamson, the NBA one-and-done rule and who wins the early signing period in the fall.
RIVAL VIEWS: Who could be the Trae Young of the 2018 class?
DUKE WINS THE 2019 CLASS BY OCTOBER
Setup: Duke remains atop the 2018 team recruiting rankings thanks to the signings of top-10 seniors R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish and Tre Jones. Coach K's program has also made a lot of progress in the 2019 class with the fall commitment of top-30 forward Joey Baker.
Prediction: By the time October rolls around, Duke will have celebrated the commitments of five-stars Bryan Antoine and Vernon Carey Jr. The Blue Devils will also make a giant push for top-50 bigs Isaiah Stewart and Armando Bacot, while also selling the keys to their offense to top-rated guard Cole Anthony. They will remain on top of the recruiting rankings for another year.
TRAE YOUNG GOES TOP-FIVE
Setup: The idea of Trae Young going in the top-five of the 2018 NBA Draft was thought to be laughable before the season started. Young has since taken college basketball by storm and enters the weekend leading the nation in scoring and assists.
Prediction: The Sooner star will have his physical traits scrutinized by NBA scouting and personnel departments, but the more they learn about Young, the more franchises will fall in love with him. Thanks to Young’s unbelievable freshman campaign and the constant need for playmakers and scorers, the Oklahoma sensation will run up NBA Draft boards and become the top guard prospect selected in June.
ZION WILLIAMSON STAYS HOME
Setup: Non-blueblood programs have notched prominent wins on the recruiting trail in recent years (e.g. LSU with Ben Simmons, Washington with Markelle Fultz and Oklahoma with Trae Young) but in each of those cases blueblood programs such as Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and North Carolina weren’t totally invested in their recruitments.
Prediction: Clemson will come up with the biggest recruiting win in recent memory on Jan. 20 by defeating the giants of college basketball and landing the commitment of five-star forward Zion Williamson. He is a trailblazer on and off the court, and will add even more ammo to the jumpstart occurring at Clemson this winter.
ONE-AND-DONE RULE NO LONGER
Setup: Last month, NBA commissioner Adam Silver came out and discussed the potential of replacing the one-and-done rule, thus allowing high school prospects to jump straight to the NBA.
Prediction: Silver will put his words into action by eradicating the 12-year-old rule. The NBA will also dictate that if a prospect does decide to attend college, they would have to remain there for two years or more. This new arrangement would be put in place for the class of 2020, giving college programs an opportunity to rework their recruiting pitches and also give current top 2020 prospects a chance to completely evaluate their decisions.
COLLEGE COACH TAKES AN NBA GIG
Setup: We haven't seen a coach jump from the college level to the NBA since 2018 when Fred Hoiberg and Billy Donovan landed in Chicago and Oklahoma City respectively. Could another college head coach be ready to take the next plunge?
Prediction: The 2018 offseason will be one that someone in the mold of Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Arizona’s Sean Miller or Florida’s Mike White could make the leap. Kentucky’s John Calipari once coached in the NBA and the potential for his return has often been discussed. Before the 2018 calendar year ends, a current college head coach will be named the leader of an NBA franchise.
NBA COACH TAKES A COLLEGE COACHING GIG
Setup: Given that the salary gap between NBA and top-tier college coaches has begun to narrow, might we see more coaches from the league return to the college ranks?
Prediction: We will see at least one NBA coach take a head coaching spot within the high-major realm this season. No, Brad Stevens is not coming back for the foreseeable future but Hoiberg or Donovan sure could. Keep an eye on Golden State Warriors’ lead assistant Mike Brown, too, as he has often talked about taking a college head coaching job. The same could be said for former Minnesota Timberwolves’ head coach Sam Mitchell. Recently, Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing returned to the college game; might someone like Jerry Stackhouse be ready to do just the same?
GEORGIA FINISHES WITH A TOP-FIVE 2019 CLASS
Setup: It seems like every year a surprise SEC program makes a run up the recruiting rankings, securing a top class and boosting their chances for future success.
Prediction: Georgia will be that team with the 2019 class. Look for the Bulldogs to remain hot on the trail this spring and summer in finishing out their class as a top-five group in America. They already hold the commitments of five-star point guard Ashton Hagans and four-star wing Elias King. Next up, Georgia will begin to zero in on Isaac Okoro, Jaylin Williams, Marcus Watson, DJ Burns and Christian Brown, as Mark Fox and his staff will end their 2019 class with commitments from at least two of those mentioned.