I've Got Five On It: Offseason storylines that will impact 2022-23 season
The college basketball offseason is just more than a month old, but it feels like we’ve seen six months of activity washed over the sport. The coaching carousel has spun, transfer season is in full swing, and the new world of NIL continues to pack surprises.
From landmark NIL moments, to coaching changes, to roster rebuilds, the stories that will shape the next 12 months are already developing. This week in I Got Five On It, Rivals.com’s Rob Cassidy explores the offseason stories that will have the most effect on the year to come in college hoops.
Transfer Tracker: What's happened and what's to come
2023 Rankings: Rivals150
2024 Rankings: Top 40
LOUISVILLE’S REGIME CHANGE
No 2022 coaching change has made bigger waves than the one at Louisville, where the Cardinals hired proven recruiter and former NBA assistant Kenny Payne, who made his name by landing players such as Jamal Murray, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro as an assistant at in-state rival Kentucky years ago. Expectations for the Payne era and Louisville increased even more when the program poached Duke assistant Nolan Smith, who is developing a reputation as a high-level recruiter himself.
The Cardinals expect to improve significantly on last year’s miserable 13-19 finish, but the first-year implications of the Payne hire will likely be felt on the recruiting trail more than they are on the court.
Louisville’s new head man already has a pair of top-100 prospects in the fold for next season and is the favorite to land both touted Memphis transfer Emoni Bates and Iowa State expat Tyrese Hunter. The Cardinals are a serious player for 2023 five-star DJ Wagner as well as a number of other in-demand prospects to boot. Of course nothing matters until Payne actually closes on said prospects, but it’s clear that the perception of the program has changed abruptly in the past few months.
How will Payne’s run ultimately be defined? Who knows, but the momentum on the recruiting trail is undeniable.
DUKE’S TOP-RANKED RECRUITING CLASS
Arguably the best transitional class in the history of the sport, the haul Duke head coach Jon Scheyer has assembled will be one of next season’s omnipresent stories.
The 2022 haul is headlined by three of the top five prospects in the class in the form of Dariq Whitehead (1), Dereck Lively (3) and Kyle Filipowski (5). It also includes an additional five-star in Mark Mitchell and two other Rivals150 members. The class brings excitement but it will also carry expectations, as an underwhelming year will fall squarely on the shoulders of the first-time head coach that seems to be armed with the talent to make waves in his first season.
Fairly or not, the midseason narrative around Duke sees almost certain to be one of two things:
A, “Jon Scheyer lacks the necessary Xs-and-Os acumen to win at the highest level.”
Or …B. “The Duke dynasty is re-energized and stronger than ever.”\
There doesn't seem to be a path to anything in between, and I, for one, am ready for the hyper-reactionary takes.
MIAMI AND WHATEVER “LIFEWALLET” IS
Billionaire Carlos Ruiz giving Nijel Pack $800,000 to come to Miami is certainly notable, as Pack is a talented player and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection. Still, the deal isn’t going to do much to shape the year ahead on a macro scale.
The intent it signals, however, probably will.
Ruiz, who owns a company called “LifeWallet,” which appears to be some sort of medical records app, has used NIL to help UM land talent on the football side and is now taking an interest in basketball. The Pack deal feels like a warning shot of sorts when it comes to the intent of UM hoops down the road and may well result in a change in the level at which the Hurricanes recruit both high school prospects and transfers. Even beyond that, however, the massive NIL deal with a company that doesn’t stand to benefit much from this flavor of endorsement makes one wonder about the possibility of such massive deals becoming more widespread and publicized.
What If businessman Charles Koch, after whom Wichita State’s basketball arena is named, decides he wants the Shockers to win a national title? Imagine the amount of Nijel Packs $62 billion could buy.
When monetary return on investment isn’t something boosters care about, the door to total recruiting insanity is kicked wide open, and I’m excited to watch what happens when it falls.
Ruiz can’t possibly be the only sports-obsessed billionaire in America, can he? The brave new world of NIL is only starting to develop.
ARKANSAS’ QUICK RELOAD
It’s nearly impossible to sustain the momentum created by back-to-back Elite Eight runs, so eventually Arkansas has to take a few backward steps, right?
Well, maybe not.
This offseason Eric Musselman is in the midst of pulling off a work of art. It started with the county’s No. 2 recruiting class, headlined by five-star prospects Nick Smith, Anthony Black and Jordan Walsh, but Musselman’s long-standing reputation as a transfer wizard is also playing a role.
The Razorbacks have landed Missouri transfer Trevon Brazile, who started 23 of 25 games as a freshman last season and shot 53.5 percent from the field in the process. Arkansas also landed All-Pac 12 selection Jalen Graham, who arrives in Fayetteville after becoming a major part of Arizona State’s scoring attack during last season’s final month. As a whole, the Razorbacks' roster looks every bit as talented as the two previous ones, which each resulted in deep NCAA tournament runs. In fact, every available database suggests the program’s standing as a budding national power won’t be changing anytime soon.
BAYLOR SCHEIERMAN PICKING CREIGHTON
Creighton’s 2023 outlook was bright long before the transfer wheel started turning, as the Bluejays were set to bring back most key pieces of a team that won 23 games and advanced in the NCAA tournament. A roster including returning veterans Ryan Nembhard, Ryan Kalkbrenner, Arthur Kaluma and Trey Alexander would have likely been enough to land Greg McDermott’s team in the preseason top 10.
Landing reigning Summit League Player of the Year Baylor Scheierman has created a different beast entirely. Scheierman fills what feels like one of the roster’s last training needs by providing an elite 3-point shooting guard to pair with Nembhard in one of the country’s top veteran backcourts. Simply put, Scheierman’s commitment takes Creighton from probable Big East power to national title contender.