McDonald's Nuggets: Situation in Kansas, big visit for Auburn
Dan McDonald is back with his weekend primer, McDonald's Nuggets. This week’s edition includes thoughts on the Kansas Notice of Allegations, a big weekend at Auburn, an update on a four-star guard and the Commit of the Week.
WHAT’S ON MY MIND: Punishment begins now for Kansas
Kansas received its Notice of Allegations earlier this week as fallout from the FBI investigation in college basketball, and it doesn’t look good for the Jayhawks and head coach Bill Self. I’m not going to rehash everything that is in there other than to mention it included three Level 1 violations, along with a lack of institutional control charge.
It could be almost a year before we know the exact penalties the NCAA will dish out to Kansas, but the punishment has already started on the recruiting trail. The uncertainty of what the NCAA will do is as bad or often worse than what the infractions committee hands down as punishment. For the next year - or possibly longer - Self and his staff will have to fend off other schools floating out rumors that the NCAA is going to slam the Jayhawks. As inconsistent and unpredictable as the NCAA is in these situations, the truth is nobody knows what is going to happen, which is exactly why other schools can use this to drum up fear in prospects.
Go back and look at what happened to North Carolina’s recruiting during the years before its academic scandal was put to bed. It wasn’t great by Tar Heel standards. Did you know Nassir Little in the 2018 class was the first top 10 recruit to sign with North Carolina since James McAdoo in 2011? It’s been widely rumored that had there not been uncertainty on what would happen with the NCAA, Brandon Ingram would have chosen North Carolina over Duke for his year of college in 2015-16.
Is it possible he could have been the difference in North Carolina winning the championship that year, as opposed to coming up just short against Villanova? With the academic scandal behind the Tar Heels, Roy Williams is back to beating out other top programs for five-star prospects and could potentially sign the top class in the country this year.
Whether the NCAA comes down hard on Kansas - or if somehow Self and the Jayhawks wiggle out of this - recruiting in the immediate future will take a hit.
VISITOR TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND: Big weekend at Auburn
You could make a really strong argument that this is the biggest recruiting weekend of Bruce Pearl’s tenure at Auburn. The Tigers will have five-star guard Jalen Green in town, along with five-star guard Sharife Cooper.
With Green, many perceive Auburn to be fighting a bit of an uphill battle. Kentucky is now out of the picture, but Memphis, Oregon and USC remain viable options in his recruitment. Getting him on campus and around Pearl is a huge deal for the Tigers and means Auburn should be taken seriously here.
Cooper’s recruitment has been more favorable for Auburn, as many have pegged him to end up in the Tigers’ 2020 class for a while now. He’s been on their campus more than any college campus and his longtime teammate and close friend, Isaac Okoro, is currently at Auburn. Barring any crazy unforeseen circumstances, I believe Auburn will be nearly impossible to beat here.
RECRUITING NOTE: Hassan Diarra focused on three
Four-star point guard Hassan Diarra was one of many highly ranked prospects to visit Georgia this past weekend. In talking with him after the visit, Diarra was really impressed by the atmosphere at the Georgia-Notre Dame football game, as well as the plan Tom Crean showed him if he picks the Bulldogs.
Two more visits are scheduled for the No. 73-ranked prospect in 2020 Rivals150. Indiana will host Diarra this weekend, and he’ll make the trip to Texas A&M on Oct. 11. He’s not committing to any specific timeline right now, but I’ll predict he chooses one of those three schools before the Early Signing Period ends.
COMMIT OF THE WEEK: Walker Kessler to North Carolina
Walker Kessler has probably been mentioned more than any other prospect in this weekly column. If you’ve been following those updates, you would know I mentioned a few weeks ago that this was trending toward being a Duke/North Carolina battle more than an Auburn/Duke battle, as many had speculated. I thought with a great visit the Tar Heels could overcome the Blue Devils, but it still surprised me when the five-star big man called me on Sunday night to announce his decision so quickly after the visit. It’s a huge win for Roy Williams, as Kessler is a really skilled big man at 7-feet tall, and he gives the Tar Heels a second five-star big man in the 2020 class, joining Day’Ron Sharpe. As he told me in his commitment interview, look for Kessler to play the Luke Maye role with his ability to play both on the block and on out on the perimeter.