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Hoophall Classic: Programs that should be pleased

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Armando Bacot (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Hoophall Classic hosted some of the top high school and prep teams that boasted some of the future stars of the sport. Following their weekend in New England, Rivals analysts Eric Bossi and Corey Evans highlight the college programs that should be feeling great after the weekend's events in Springfield.

MORE: Rival Views from the Hoophall Classic

FLORIDA 

While Mike White was focusing on knocking off Georgia over the weekend his two stud recruits from the 2019 class were causing havoc in New England. Things begin and end with Scottie Lewis, who is cementing his status as the best perimeter defender in America. He locked down arguably one of the most gifted and difficult to guard scorers in the nation: Jaden McDaniels. Better yet, Lewis displayed a much-improved perimeter game in knocking down each of his 3-point attempts, raising his basketball ceiling in the process. Omar Payne wasn’t too shabby, either, as the interior presence has the makings of an elite rim protector who will make an immediate positive impact next season. Don’t forget about the Gators and their chances. Moses Moody, Cade Cunningham, BJ Boston, Ryan Nembhard and Andre Curbelo all impressed and gave plenty of reason for optimism for Florida fans. – Evans

*****

ILLINOIS

For the longest time Illinois was really spinning its wheels with the 2019 class. But when Kofi Cockburn joined up rather than going through a prolonged commitment it was a huge boost. Now, Cockburn isn’t necessarily a perfect fit for the way Brad Underwood wants to play, and the Illini will need to reshape his body and get him more consistent. But, he is very unique and could be for the Illini what a guy like Udoka Azubuike (when healthy) has been for Kansas. On top of Cockburn, the Illini have emerged as legit contenders for four-star wing Christian Brown, who is a teammate of Cockburn and is currently playing his best ball of the last two years. Can the Illini pull off Brown? We’ll see, but they are at least in the ballgame, and that’s reason to be feeling good. – Bossi

*****

NORTH CAROLINA 

The Tar Heels have an absolute gem headed their way in the form of five-star center Armando Bacot. Their latest recruiting win is tailor-made for what Roy Williams wants in his big men. Uberly polished and with a much-improved physical profile, Bacot put together a solid stat line on Sunday of 10 points, four rebounds, three blocks and two assists. While those numbers might not jump off of the page, Bacot is the type of guy who can complete whatever task is asked of him. He will bring that same mentality to Chapel Hill next year, and Tar Heels fans are hoping that Keion Brooks, Precious Achiuwa, Anthony Edwards or Cole Anthony will join him. The likeliest are Brooks and Anthony, and while Anthony sat out his team’s contest over the weekend, Brooks did not, and he bolstered his stock with his three-level scoring abilities and willingness to guard different positions. Much has been made about UNC’s recruiting misses of late, but there is reason for optimism that the Tar Heels can complete their senior class on a high note. – Evans

*****

VILLANOVA 

Jay Wright and Villanova fans had to have been watching with pride and excitement as three quarters of their 2019 class looked terrific during Hoophall play. Five-star power forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was the best player on the floor during a nationally televised battle between his loaded IMG Academy squad and mighty Oak Hill. He’s a polished and skilled big man who is ready to contribute immediately. Likewise, shooting guard Bryan Antoine has a serious case for best in the senior class at his position and Justin Moore is exactly the type of guard that develops into a tough upperclassman that the Wildcats have built their program on. Watching all of these guys on TV Sunday and Monday had to have been an adrenaline boost for Nova hoops junkies. – Bossi

FOR MORE VILLANOVA SPORTS NEWS GO TO NOVAILLUSTRATED.COM

*****

WASHINGTON 

No program left the Hoophall Classic with greater momentum than Washington. It is one thing to be involved with the top local talent in Jaden McDaniels. but to traverse 3,000 miles and beat out the bluebloods for arguably the most productive, college-ready player in the 2019 class? Unheard of. That is exactly what Mike Hopkins achieved over the weekend, as Isaiah Stewart repaid all of the time and attention that he had invested in the big man, dating back to his days as a Syracuse assistant. Stewart preceded to then put up another strong stat line of 14 points and 11 rebounds, which came just hours after McDaniels completed his time in Massachusetts with a double-double of his own. There hasn't been much positive momentum in the Pacific Northwest in recent years, even during the Markelle Fultz's season in Seattle. But Huskies fans have every reason to be excited for the immediate and long-term future of the Washington program. – Evans