McDonald's Nuggets: 2020 prospects who'll be impactful
Dan McDonald is back with his weekend primer, McDonald's Nuggets. This week’s edition is taking a different direction, as we break down 10 prospects who made the most impactful decisions.
1. Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
Cunningham is only going to be on campus for a year, but he’s going to give the Cowboys a chance to be a real contender in the Big 12 and beyond. Whenever you have one of the best players in the country with a competent roster around - like Oklahoma State will have - you’ll have a chance in March. Going even beyond his playing days in Stillwater, Cunningham having success at the NBA level could be a selling point for future five-star recruits to pick the Pokes.
2. Daishen Nix, UCLA
For any coach taking on a new job, it doesn’t get any better than landing a five-star point guard in your first full class. Not only did Mick Cronin do that with Nix, but he landed arguably the best passer in the 2020 class. Nix will make others around him better and make Cronin look like an even better coach than he already is. If UCLA is able to land five-star shooting guard Josh Christopher to play next to Nix, fun times could be ahead in Westwood.
3. Sharife Cooper, Auburn
The state of Georgia has been good to Bruce Pearl going back to his time at Tennessee, so he went back to the Peach State in the 2020 class to sign one of the top guards in the country. The game comes easy for Cooper. He has deep range on his jumper. He’s a crafty scorer going to the basket. He also makes plays for others as well as any prospect in the class. Look for Cooper to have a similar type of impact at Auburn that Jared Harper did before leaving for the NBA.
4. Bryce Thompson, Kansas
Let’s start with Thompson the player. He’s really good. He lit up the Under Armour Association with his ability to score the ball. He’ll take that with him to Kansas and be a really good player in the Big 12. The trait that will translate easily to the next level is his ability to make tough, contested shots.
The other reason I believe Thompson’s decision is so impactful is because of the NCAA issues surrounding the program. Thompson choosing the Jayhawks could signal to other top recruits that, at least for the short term, it is OK to choose Kansas.
5. Caleb Love, North Carolina
You’re going to see Cole Anthony have a huge impact in Chapel Hill this year, but unfortunately for Tar Heel fans it will only be for this year as he’ll leave for the NBA after the season. That’s why adding a point guard like Love is so important. The five-star floor general should be able to take the reins at point guard from day one and will have a ton of talent around him. He might only be around for a year or two, but he’s going to be a star for Roy Williams with his ability to both score and set up others.
6. Nimari Burnett, Texas Tech
We’ve seen what Chris Beard can do with under-the-radar talent like Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver. Both had great success for the Red Raiders before leaving for the NBA and becoming first-round picks. Now we’ll get to see what Beard can do with one of the best guards in the 2020 class in Burnett. Well, we’ll actually get to see that this season with 2019 five-star guard Jahmius Ramsey on campus, but the point remains that Texas Tech’s recent success on the court is translating to the recruiting trail in a big way. Beard’s track record of winning big and developing players is beginning to resonate with some of the top recruits in the country. As for Burnett himself, don’t be surprised if he averages over 15 points per game next year in Lubbock.
7. Matthew Murrell, Ole Miss
For Ole Miss fans, Murrell’s decision should excite them for two reasons. The first, and most important, is that he’s a really good player. He’s an elite scorer and will bring a toughness to the program that fits exactly what Kermit Davis preaches.
The other reason is it proves Davis and his staff can win big recruiting battles. Auburn, Florida, Texas and Vanderbilt were the other schools involved. Many thought he was a done deal for Vanderbilt with his former high school coach taking an assistant spot on Jerry Stackhouse’s staff, but the Rebels hung in there and won a huge recruiting battle.
8. Moses Moody, Arkansas
Arkansas can be a really good basketball job because there is usually pretty good talent coming out of the state and those kids have proven to be pretty loyal to the in-state school. Moody’s decision to pick the Razorbacks should help Eric Musselman sell other top in-state recruits on his program. Not to mention, Moody has All-SEC potential.
9. Joe Bamisile, Virginia Tech
Any questions about Mike Young’s ability to attract top talent to Blacksburg like his predecessor Buzz Williams did should be put to bed by now. The Hokies finished strong in 2019 and are off to a terrific start in 2020. I love what Bamisile brings to the Hokies' program. He’s a freaky athlete who plays with relentlessness and aggressiveness that rubs off on everybody around. He’s going to be a key piece for Virginia Tech going forward.
10. Chris Youngblood, Kennesaw State
If you have sensed a theme with the last few prospects, it is new coaches securing a commitment that not only impacts on the court but also the culture of the program. That’s what Kennesaw State coach Amir Abdur-Rahim did by landing Youngblood in his first full class. For a school in the Atlantic Sun Conference that has never had a winning season as a Division I program to land a Rivals150 prospect is pretty remarkable. If not for an early commitment, Youngblood would have attracted offers from ACC and SEC programs after a great July. He’s the centerpiece of a terrific class for the Owls. Keep an eye on how this program progresses over the next few years.