McDonald's Nuggets: Thank goodness - basketball is back!
This week’s McDonald’s Nuggets discusses how great it is to have basketball back. It also includes an update on a five-star guard in Georgia and the Commit of the Week.
MORE: Podcast addresses Illinois, Baylor, Ohio State, more
2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position
2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team
WHAT’S ON MY MIND: Thankful for basketball (and more thoughts)
Last week was Thanksgiving, but it took me a week to truly realize how thankful we should all be that we have high-level basketball to entertain us again. Despite a global pandemic that has made 2020 the toughest year in our lifetimes for many people, we’ll have basketball at all levels to enjoy by the end of the month.
High school seasons are underway in most states around the country, with several really good events taking place the last few weeks. College basketball started last Wednesday, and it hasn’t taken long for some great matchups. And in less than three weeks, we’ll have the NBA back (already).
In the high school ranks, I had a chance last week to take in several of the events here in the Atlanta area . My biggest takeaway from the events is that I think there are three five-star prospects that reside in Georgia in the 2022 class. Recent Ohio State commit Bruce Thornton already has that billing and deserves it. Right there with him, Scoot Henderson (more on him below) also already has the five-star label, and he made a case for a potential bump in the next update. And lastly, Malique Ewin could be in line for a huge jump to join them. The 6-foot-10 forward has the size, length and mobility to go along with a really impressive skill level that will make him one of the most highly recruited prospects in the class. The production has started to match the great potential.
Wasatch Academy was one of the schools that traveled to Atlanta for the Hoopsgiving event last weekend. The team's backcourt has one of the more impressive duos in the country. Nolan Hickman, a Kentucky commit, caught my attention in a big way. I like his size, skill level and his decision-making. He’s a versatile player on both ends of the court. His running mate, Richard Isaacs, is a ton of fun to watch, too. He’s a really gifted and shifty floor general that can score at a high level.
R. J. Godfrey, currently ranked No. 134 in the 2022 Rivals150, is another prospect that could be in line for a rankings bump in the next update. The 6-foot-6 small forward - and son of former NFL linebacker Randall Godfrey - had one of the best halves of basketball I’ve seen in a while against a loaded Grayson team last week. He’s a really strong, athletic and versatile forward that can slide his feet on the perimeter but also protect the rim and dominate on the boards. Offensively, he has a “point forward” element to him. If he can consistently shoot it from deep - and he’s getting better - he’ll be a super-highly recruited prospect next cycle. Right now, Ole Miss is his only high-major scholarship offer, but Georgia, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are also involved.
To finish up, I’ve enjoyed this college season so far as much as any I can remember in recent years. It probably has something to do with just being thankful games are going on with all the negativity about teams having to pause activities, but there have been some really fun games. The Illinois-Baylor game was terrific. Watching Baylor’s guards score it is enjoyable but watching the way they lock up defensively is equally impressive. With how quickly Gonzaga has come out of the gates this year, led by Drew Timme and Jalen Suggs, that game on Saturday afternoon against the top two teams in the country should be one for the ages. Lastly, Texas is a really good team. Look for Shaka Smart’s group to compete for the Big 12 title, right there with Baylor, Kansas and that West Virginia team that gave Gonzaga all it could handle on Wednesday night.
RECRUITING NOTE: Scoot Henderson taking off
There aren’t many prospects in the country off to a better start to the 2020-21 season than five-star 2022 guard Scoot Henderson. The Georgia native has matched up with other highly ranked guards like J.D. Davison and Mikey Williams early this season and put up over 30 points each game. He’s scored it in every way, whether it’s a three-pointer, a mid-range floater or a highlight reel dunk. He’s more than lived up to his lofty ranking.
On the recruiting side of it, he’s starting to pick up more attention, despite college coaches not being allowed out to evaluate in person. Auburn has been one of the schools on him the longest and Bruce Pearl has been really aggressive in recruiting him. Florida, Florida State, Georgia and Tennessee have also been heavily involved. Recently, Kentucky has started to come into the picture with Henderson, and don’t be surprised if North Carolina is next.
2021 COMMIT OF THE WEEK: Micawber Etienne to UCLA
Mick Cronin won the week with the huge addition of four-star center Micawber Etienne. UCLA edged Illinois, Marquette and Miami for his commitment. What I love most about this is the fit. The 6-foot-10, 220-pound post player has the blue-collar mentality that will work perfectly with Cronin and the other prospects coming in with him next season.
He’s more than capable of carrying his weight on the offensive end, but his energy and toughness on the defensive end and on the boards will get him on the court early in his career in Westwood. Etienne, Will McClendon and Peyton Watson make up a terrific class.