basketball Edit

McDonald's Nuggets: NCAA & NBA ties; recruiting trend; more

Jalen Green
Jalen Green (AP Images)

This week’s edition of McDonald's Nuggets discusses the relationship between the NCAA and the NBA, a trend developing in the 2021 class and more.

MORE: Three-Point Play | Q&A with top 30 junior Franck Kepnang

2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

2022 Rankings: Top 75



WHAT’S ON MY MIND: Relationship between NCAA and NBA needs to improve

I’ve put a lot of thought into the G League’s push to land top high school prospects into its pathway program as it has done with Jalen Green, Daishen Nix and Isaiah Todd. Let me start by saying I’m absolutely in favor of high school kids having more options, but I’m just not sure I like the direction this is going.

What needs to happen is more teamwork between the NCAA and the NBA on how to help athletes go from high school to the professional level. I understand college isn’t for everyone, which is why the G League should be an option for anyone who falls in that category. But college can be a very positive experience for the vast majority of players. I’d love to see the NCAA and the NBA work together to make college a more appealing option for someone like Green.

It benefits the NCAA for stars like Zion Williamson to spend time on Duke’s campus and appearing in the NCAA Tournament. It’s good for the NBA to have stars coming into the league with a college brand behind them, just like it’s great for the NFL to have Joe Burrow coming in after starring for LSU last season. Burrow has become a star.

Williamson probably would have signed a huge endorsement deal had he gone the G League route because he had already started to generate buzz among basketball fans, but I don’t think there is any doubt that number wouldn’t have come close to the $75 million he received after a year playing for arguably the biggest brand in college hoops. He also doesn’t get the Pelicans more prime-time games than I can ever remember without playing for a top college brand. Aside from being a great place to make stars more identifiable, college basketball is also a better place for NBA scouts to evaluate.

I’m a strong believer that it’s best for everyone involved for future NBA stars to spend time playing college basketball. This is where the "name, image and likeness" movement comes into play. The NCAA needs to soften the restrictions it put in place to allow student athletes to make as much money as they possibly can. If prospects know they can get into six figures while playing college basketball, I doubt we’d see too many turn down that opportunity and everyone would be better for it.


RECRUITING NOTE: A developing trend in the 2021 class?

Ryan Conway
Ryan Conway (

When COVID-19 hit in March, it didn’t just impact college basketball programs competing for a championship on the court. It has filtered over into the recruiting process as well. Zoom calls have replaced official visits and high school prospects and transfers have mostly been forced to make decisions without stepping foot on the campus of the school they are choosing.

One prediction that has been widely shared in the recruiting industry since the pandemic hit has been that we’ll see more recruits stay closer to home in the 2021 class than we’ve seen in the past several years. We’re already starting to see that scenario play out.

In the 2021 Rivals150, 36 prospects have already made verbal commitments. Of those 36 commitments, 20 have opted for a school in their home state. Of the remaining 16 prospects, eight of them are going to a school in state bordering their home state. Additionally, Seton Hall commit Ryan Conway is going to a school less than 200 miles from home. That means 80.6% of the current committed prospects inside the 2021 Rivals150 are going to schools in their home state, a bordering state or a school less than 200 miles away.

Now, let’s go back to the 2019 class to compare and contrast, since the last part of the 2020 class has been impacted by the virus. In the 2019 Rivals150, 39 prospects chose to play for an in-state school, and 38 prospects signed with a school in a bordering state. No prospect signed with a school inside 200 miles away that wasn’t the home state or a bordering state. Two prospects, R.J. Hampton and Terry Armstrong, decided to turn pro. Of the 148 prospects who signed with a school, 52% picked a school in their home state, a bordering state or a school inside 200 miles away.

That’s a pretty shocking difference in percentage. This trend could change whenever the dead period ends and prospects can get back out on college visits, but I still think we’ll see more regional recruiting than we have in the past.

(NOTE: Included in border state numbers is Michigan sharing a water boundary with Illinois on Lake Michigan. Also, Texas A&M commit Jaxson Robinson and UConn commit Adama Sanogo are not included in the 2021 numbers because he’s announced he’s moving in to 2020 class.)


2020 COMMIT OF THE WEEK: Jaxson Robinson to Texas A&M

Yes, I’m aware this commitment didn’t happen this week, but the news of Robinson reclassifying into the 2020 class did come out this week. It’s huge news for the Aggies. Anybody who watched Texas A&M this past season knows that Buzz Williams did a terrific job coaching up his team, but scoring the ball wasn’t always an easy process. Adding an elite shooter like Robinson will help in a big way because he can get hot in a hurry and will help spacing.



TRANSFER OF THE WEEK: Olivier Sarr to Kentucky

This is an easy call. Kentucky, for some strange reason, had been struggling to replace a depleted frontcourt this off-season, so the news of Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr coming to Lexington is huge for Big Blue Nation. The 7-footer from France is coming off a junior season in which he averaged 13.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. What needs to be determined next is whether Sarr will be able to gain immediate eligibility following the coaching change at Wake Forest. If he can play this year, Kentucky should find itself in the top 10 this season.