McDonald's Nuggets: NBA's fascinating summer, a 5-star prediction
Dan McDonald is back with his weekend primer, McDonald's Nuggets. This week’s edition includes NBA free agency talk, a prediction on a five-star big man in the 2020 class, and more.
WHAT'S ON MY MIND: NBA free agency
The NBA Playoffs are always a ton of fun and the NBA Finals have been highly entertaining so far with all the drama going on in terms of the Warriors injury situation and being down 2-1. But what I’m looking forward to is seeing how much the NBA landscape changes this summer.
It seems like new rumors are coming out every day about the upcoming free agency class. One day there are reports Kawhi Leonard is all but done to go home to play for the Los Angeles Clippers and the next day reports say he bought a new home in Toronto and is planning to stay. I personally believe (and hope) he stays because Toronto’s roster is pretty strong, the Raptors have a great front office, the Eastern Conference is an easier path to the Finals, and he can make a lot more money by staying.
It seems like everybody is in agreement that Kevin Durant is leaving the Warriors and likely for New York. Is that for the Knicks or the Nets? Does he team up with Kyrie Irving on one of those teams? And then there is the Anthony Davis situation. Can the Lakers actually convince the Pelicans to make the trade after all the drama that unfolded this year with those negotiations? Or does he get traded somewhere else?
This could be the craziest off-season we have seen in the NBA in a long time, and I’m here for it.
PREDICTION: Walker Kessler's landing spot
I’ve spent a lot of time monitoring the recruitment of Walker Kessler over the last couple years. He’s become a really popular recruit as Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan, Auburn, Georgia, Vanderbilt and most recently Gonzaga have come into the picture for him. I still think he’s probably at least a few months out from a decision, but I’m ready to make my prediction for the five-star big man in the 2020 class: Duke.
Duke is the one school that has been “all in” on Kessler and always mentioned as one of the favorites in his recruitment. Mike Krzyzewski has only offered one post player in the 2020 and that is Kessler. The Blue Devils have had post players that play like Kessler in Coach K’s tenure, so it will be easy to show him and his inner circle how he will be utilized.
Auburn had a great official visit with him last weekend and Gonzaga is another school that shouldn’t be completely ruled out given his relationship with assistant coach Roger Powell, who started recruiting him at Vanderbilt, but I’m predicting he signs with Duke in November.
RECRUITING NOTE: Quentin Grimes going home?
Kansas freshman guard Quentin Grimes initially decided to test the NBA Draft waters this off-season before pulling his name out before the deadline to return to college. The former five-star prospect will not be returning to Kansas though as he has entered his name into the transfer portal.
The early talk around his potential destination has him looking closer to home in Texas. This puts Houston, Texas and Texas A&M as schools that should be considered the early favorites to land him. However, there is also some chatter that he will make a push to get a waiver from the NCAA to play next season. The catch here is that there is very little chance that will happen if he chooses Texas as the Longhorns are in the Big 12 with the Jayhawks.
Look for Houston and Texas A&M to get the first shot at winning him over. Both schools are located close to his hometown of The Woodlands and both have a strong need for an impact guard. If he decides to open it up a little bit more and is willing to sit out a year, then his list could expand quite a bit. Right now, I like the way the Cougars and Aggies are positioned in his recruitment this time around.
COMMITMENT OF THE WEEK: Nah'shon Hyland
Mike Rhoades had already put VCU in position to be really good next season and potentially a top 25 team. This was before the Rams added Rivals150 guard Nah’Shon Hyland this week to an already impressive roster. We have Hyland slotted in as the No. 91 ranked prospect in the 2019 class. Usually when it’s this late in the process and a prospect like him is available, he ends up at a traditional power, so this is a major win for VCU. Hyland averaged 15.1 points, 3.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game this year with We R-1 in the Under Armour Association and shot 41% from 3-point range. Offers came in from Boston College, Michigan, Saint Joe’s, Temple and UConn.