McDonald's Nuggets: New Rivals150, a big visit, commits
Dan McDonald is back with his weekend primer, McDonald's Nuggets. This week’s edition includes thoughts on the new Rivals150, a visitor to watch this weekend, an update on a four-star big man and the commitments of the week.
RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK
TUESDAY: 2020 Top 10
WEDNESDAY: 2020 Rivals150
THURSDAY: 2020 position rankings
FRIDAY: 2021 Rivals150
SATURDAY: 2021 position rankings
SUNDAY: 2022 rankings
WHAT’S ON MY MIND: Thoughts on the updated 2020 Rivals150
I’m going to make a few predictions on what we’re going to see from the 2020 class going forward. As many of you know, our rankings are a team effort and combine the opinions of Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and me. We work well together, but that doesn’t mean we come close to agreeing on every prospect. I’ll share some thoughts on prospects I like more than my teammates on the Rivals hoops team.
Let’s start at the top with Cade Cunningham. He’s the safest bet to not only be a really good college player in his year on campus, but I also see him making a lot of money in the NBA. I love his size, skill and versatility. He can play and defend multiple positions, which is becoming more and more valuable as you hear more about “position-less basketball.”
Right outside the top 10, I’m a huge Josh Christopher fan. He’s such a smooth scorer and has good size for a shooting guard. He’ll outplay his current ranking. Right behind him, Daishen Nix made a great college decision picking UCLA and will elevate that program immediately, much like Lonzo Ball did with his play-making ability. Finishing off my five-star thoughts, Isaiah Jackson is another one who will outperform some guys ranked ahead of him. He’s another prospect I love because of his combination of size, skill and athleticism. He’s been productive every time I’ve seen him compete.
I’ve always thought the further down in the rankings you go, the more a prospect’s success is determined by his college choice. Jabri Abdur-Rahim made a great decision. He’ll have a ton of success playing for Tony Bennett. Dwon Odom is another one who made a great choice. Xavier will need him to play early and he’ll be ready to do so. He’s going to be one of those players that will feel like he’s been in college a decade because he’ll be good for four years in Cincinnati.
He hasn’t made his college decision yet, but Matthew Murrell is another one who could outplay his ranking. He’s a bucket-getter and a tough competitor. He’s been strongly linked to Vanderbilt, given his former high school coach is now on staff there. He would be the perfect prospect for Jerry Stackhouse to build around as he tries to rebuild the Commodores program.
Another prospect yet to make a college decision who has a bright future is Osasere Ighodaro. He jumped up 47 spots in this update and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he continues to trend upward. His combination of length and skill are pretty rare. I love his upside as a prospect. He had all the top academic schools following him at the Under Armour Finals in July.
VISITOR TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND: Walker Kessler heads to Duke
You may have noticed that I submitted a FutureCast pick for Walker Kessler in favor of Duke. This weekend will be Coach K’s big opportunity to seal the deal on the five-star post player out of Georgia, as Kessler makes the trip to Durham for his official visit.
He just completed an official visit to Michigan last weekend after using the first one of his senior year on Auburn in June. By all accounts, the visit to Michigan went really well. Juwan Howard and his staff really impressed the Kessler family. The Wolverines were in a really, really good spot before John Beilein departed for the NBA, but geography isn’t working in Michigan’s favor here and that will be hard to overcome. Auburn had some momentum with Kessler as well after a great June visit, along with receiving a commitment from his good friend Justin Powell, so the Tigers remain in a good spot.
For right now, I’m sticking with my Duke pick. The Blue Devils have been consistent with him, have the academic situation he likes, a great point guard committed and they aren’t too far from home. The recent surge in Duke players being picked high in the NBA Draft is appealing to him as well.
After this weekend, he has two visits remaining on his schedule: North Carolina (Sept. 20-22) and Gonzaga (Oct. 4-6). Keep an eye on North Carolina in this one. The Tar Heels have some catching up to do as they haven’t been as consistent with him as Duke, but they check all the other boxes for Kessler and he’s built a really strong relationship with Roy Williams. The coaching staff has him sold on how he can fit alongside Day’Ron Sharpe ,and Kessler has mentioned in the past being intrigued by how Luke Maye played in Chapel Hill. This could end up being a classic Tobacco Road recruiting battle down the stretch.
RECRUITING NOTE: P.J. Hall begins official visit tour
Four-star big man P.J. Hall takes the first of his five scheduled official visits this weekend, starting with nearby Clemson. Florida, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Georgia Tech also have dates set with the South Carolina native.
If you have followed his recruitment closely, you have probably heard rumors of Florida being the favorite. The Gators do potentially have a built-in advantage with his sister playing volleyball at Florida, but don’t take this one to the bank just yet. All the other schools have factors working in their favor as well.
Clemson is closest to home. Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young coached his father in college and has been recruiting him the longest, going back to his time at Wofford. Hall has been on Tennessee’s campus multiple times and loves the atmosphere. Georgia Tech’s style of play is appealing to him.
Smart money is probably on Florida to win out here, but I’m told Hall is likely more open to other schools that most seem to think.
COMMITMENT(S) OF THE WEEK: Big week for Florida schools
On Sunday afternoon, Brian Gregory and his staff at South Florida hauled in one of the biggest stock risers of the summer in four-star guard Caleb Murphy. The Georgia native now comes in at No. 53 overall in the Rivals150 and is going to be a whole lot of fun to watch for the Bulls. A 6-foot-3 guard, Murphy is constantly in attack mode. He has one of the quickest first steps I’ve seen and is an impressive finisher in the paint. He’s also a terrific passer off the drive. His on-ball defense just might be his best trait. This is one of the more significant commitments so far in the 2020 class.
On Tuesday, Miami came through with a big commitment from four-star forward Matt Cross. Rivals analyst Corey Evans summed up his game perfectly in the commitment story: “The 6-foot-8 senior is a two-way contributor that brings a blue-collared work ethic to the floor and could fill a leadership void early on. He can make shots to the perimeter, finish through contact, rebound in high volumes and defend either forward position.”