McDonald's Nuggets: Hot Take, Prediction, Team of the Week
Analyst Dan McDonald cooks up his weekly serving of McDonald's Nuggets. This week, he addresses the latest on Anthony Edwards and coaching movement this offseason. He also offers a prediction in regards to Kansas and names his Team of the Week.
RECRUITING NOTE: 'Ant Man' staying home?
In our very first edition of McDonald’s Nuggets, the big recruiting note was about Georgia trending with Anthony Edwards, the No. 2 prospect in the 2019 Rivals150. I put my own FutureCast pick for the Atlanta native for the Bulldogs back on Dec. 29. I had started hearing about Georgia trending with him as far back as around the time he decided to move back into the 2019 class and took an official visit to Georgia in late November and early December. My hesitation in putting in my pick earlier was due to the fact the Bulldogs would have to fend off Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and the longtime favorite, Florida State, a school that has dominated recruiting in Atlanta under Leonard Hamilton, with the help of assistant coach Charlton Young.
Sitting here three days out from his announcement, I still like Georgia’s chances to pull off arguably the biggest basketball recruiting victory in the school’s history. He’s made multiple visits to Athens since Tom Crean’s staff took over while also calling off visits to Florida State, Kansas and North Carolina. His only official visit besides Georgia has been Kentucky. I’m told he’s bought into the idea of staying home and playing for the in-state school. Crean’s background of working with top NBA players such as Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo has also helped out a ton here as well. Georgia needs an elite guard in the worst way right now, and I think Edwards will be that guy to take over for the Bulldogs next year.
HOT TAKE: Lots of coaching movement this off-season
Earlier in the season, I remember seeing some college basketball writers putting out hot seat lists and it didn’t look like people were expecting a lot of movement with coaches at high-majors after this season. I’ll go somewhat out on a limb here and predict at least 10 – and as many as 15 – high-major programs will have new coaches next year.
We already have one big opening with UCLA firing Steve Alford after a rough start to the season for the Bruins. That’s the type of job that can lead to some dominoes at other high-major programs, helping us get into the double digits of new coaches. With the news coming out this week about Arizona getting rid of an assistant coach and looking very closely at Sean Miller’s future, that’s another job that would likely set off some ripple effects, since it is one of the best jobs in the country.
The end of the season is just over a month away for a lot of teams, so we’re at the point where you can start predicting some coaches who could be let go at season’s end. I’d be pretty surprised if there aren’t at least five to seven jobs that open that away. Arizona isn’t the only school that could be making a change due to fallout from the FBI investigation into college hoops, which could open up a couple more jobs. Lastly, it seems like I have heard more about coaches at the highest level thinking about making lateral moves this year just to get a fresh start and a new contract.
For all these reasons, I see the 2019 coaching carousel being pretty active.
PREDICTION: Big 12 dominance ends for Kansas in 2019
The run Kansas has been on in the Big 12 under Bill Self is absolutely unreal. To win a Power Five conference regular season championship 14 straight years shouldn’t be possible, but that’s exactly what the Jayhawks have done since the 2004-05 season. To put this in perspective: I turn 30 next month, and I couldn’t drive a car (legally, of course) the last time a school other than Kansas claimed a Big 12 regular season title.
I think that streak is coming to an end.
Kansas is 6-4 right now in Big 12 play. Kansas State, the team Kansas just lost to on the road earlier this week, sits atop the league with 7-2 record. The Jayhawks are currently tied for fourth place with Texas Tech. The most alarming stat for Kansas is it has just one win away from home. With four losses in the league already and four more road games to play, if the Jayhawks improve on the road in a hurry and simply split those four games with a 2-2 record, that puts them at six losses. I don’t see that number being enough to win the conference. I’m predicting Steve Prohm’s Iowa State Cyclones will go into Kansas City as the No. 1 seed after finishing in last place last year.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: North Carolina
Four weeks ago Saturday, North Carolina had an inexplicable loss to Louisville at home by 21 points. Prior to that loss, the Tar Heels had been playing mostly good basketball. Since that loss, Roy Williams has his team playing the best it has played all year.
North Carolina is now riding a six-game winning streak heading into a matchup with Miami, so it’s likely the Tar Heels will be riding a seven-game winning streak into Monday night’s showdown with No. 3 Virginia. In a win over NC State on Tuesday night, the Tar Heels didn’t just win big by 17 points – they managed to score 113 points. There have been times when North Carolina fans probably had to be concerned about this team’s ability to make a run in the postseason, but I’m betting most are feeling a good bit better about those prospects today.
Probably the most encouraging sign for the Tar Heels is the recent play of five-star freshman forward Nassir Little. He’s been in double figures four of the past six games, including a season-high 23 points in a big win over Virginia Tech. The race down the stretch between Duke, Virginia and North Carolina is going to be fun to watch.