Evans Seven: Teams that landed building blocks for the future
Most of the commotion in the Early Signing Period has already subsided and many programs have turned their attention to the younger classes. In this week’s Evans Seven, we take a look at which schools landed players who can set a foundation for future success.
Butler is set to lose four of its primary contributors after this season, the main one being Kamar Baldwin. So, the pressure was on head coach Lavall Jordan and his staff to lock up not just a good class but also one that checks a lot boxes. They achieved just that by picking up commitments from four Rivals150 members, each of whom will bring something different to the table.
Whether it is a tough downhill guard in Myles Tate or a confident shot-making guard in Chuck Harris, the Bulldogs may have found the backcourt of their future. They added further playmaking ability with versatile wing-forward Carlos "Scooby" Johnson. Myles Wilmoth is more of a long-term play and is entirely different compared to Butler's final recruit, Jakobe Coles, who is a skilled, plodding big man that is efficient out of the high-post setting. There is no one that will "wow" out of this class, but the sum of all its parts gives the Bulldogs plenty to build on in the coming years.
2. KANSAS STATE
Bruce Weber has assembled his top class as the head coach at Kansas State. Not only did the Wildcats get commitments from four Rivals150 members, but each also represent what Weber has come to value in a prospect.
When one thinks of Kansas State, a smash-mouth, tough-minded sort of ballplayer comes to mind, and that is exactly what Selton Miguel embodies each time he hits the floor. Davion Bradford, a big-bodied center that K-State has lacked in recent years, is set to sign, as is shot-maker Luke Kasubke. Nijel Pack may be the most important player in the coming years. Kansas State has found great success over the past few years because of its guard play, and if Pack can find a happy medium between scoring and playmaking, the Wildcats should remain in the Big 12 title talk, thanks to what the Wildcats have been able to accomplish this fall.
By the time September rolled around last year, Louisville was already plush with talent that resulted in a top 10 class. Late this summer looked like more of the same - until the Cards missed upon a number of their top targets. Caleb Love, DJ Steward, Jaemyn Brakefield, Nimari Burnett and Devin Askew all said no to Chris Mack, but top junior college talent Jayden Scrubb pushed momentum on the Cardinals' side. While talk still persists that Scrubb might never enroll and instead enter his name into the NBA Draft, his decision was a big one that led to the commitments from former Nebraska commit D’Andre Davis and budding big man JJ Traynor.
Louisville could see its entire starting five leave after this season but, either way, Mack and his staff did a great job of taking a few to the chin and responding with an emphatic upper-cut that is a top 25 recruiting class.
4. OKLAHOMA STATE
Mike Boynton is the poster child for this article. He caused an uproar by hiring the nation’s second-ranked prospect’s brother, Cannen Cunningham. Then, unlike most times when such a hiring is made and a commitment immediately follows, no such thing took place. Was the decision made by Boynton not calculated enough? And would the Pokes lose out on Cade Cunningham to Kentucky?
Nope, and the Cowboys landed a player who could single-handedly propel the team to some wins in March. Furthermore, Rondel Walker will join him in Stillwater next year and another piece or two could fall in the Cowboys' favor. The Cowboys enrolled a top 25 class this fall and will do just the same next year, stacking up consecutively strong classes that could lead to a few golden years in Stillwater.
5. NORTH CAROLINA
Two years ago, talk circulated around North Carolina and its failure to lure five-star talent to Chapel Hill. Last year, such discussions remained, thanks to misses on Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Matthew Hurt, Josh Green and Tre Mann.
This recruiting cycle? The tremors from the successful boom may have been felt in nearby Durham. And while the Heels are still behind Duke in the team rankings, this is one of the best classes that Roy Williams has ever assembled.
He got his shooter last week in Puff Johnson, two dynamic guards in Caleb Love and RJ Davis, and a pair of versatile, complementary bigs in Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler. They could still land Ziaire Williams in the spring, but regardless Williams and his staff have answered the call and have done so in a fantastic manner.
Tennessee is not only succeeding with under-the-radar talent, but it also now has blue-chip recruits that should raise the ceiling of the program even further. A strong class was needed this fall with the graduations of Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden, two preseason all-SEC guards, along with the potential departure of Josiah James after his freshman year.
The Vols delivered in a big way in the form of three top 35 prospects. Corey Walker brings a versatile skill set to the frontcourt. Jaden Springer possesses tremendous size in the backcourt, and he can play both guard positions, and Keon Johnson may be one of the most dynamic, athletic guards in all of America. Together, the group is a win for Rick Barnes and his staff, which should lead to plenty of Ws.
The graduation of program great Ethan Happ will sting a little this year, and the Badgers will see Brevin Pritzl exhaust his college eligibility after this season, but Greg Gard did a tremendous job of checking practically all of the boxes with his 2020 class.
Want a tough-nosed lead guard? They got one with Lorne Bowman. A capable guard defender? Jordan Davis fits the bill. A shot-making weapon on the wing? Jordan's brother, Jonathan Davis, should do. What about a sky-scraping center who can play facing the basket or with his back to it? Steven Crowl comes to mind. Lastly, Rivals150 senior Ben Carlson is a glue-forward that can shoot, rebound and bring energy to the floor on a consistent basis.
Is it a sexy class that boasts a star-studded recruit like Sam Dekker? No, but it is a group that could be the foundation for future success and quiet the hot seat talk surrounding Gard.