Rival Views: Standout players in April's live periods
The last two weekends of April were live evaluation periods that college coaches spent traveling the country in search of future players. Reputations were made and broken, and many scholarships were handed out. The Rivals.com crew was out on the road as well and saw plenty of standouts.
So, which well-known (already ranked in the top 50) and relatively under-the-radar (ranked outside of the top 100) players stood out the most to National Basketball Analysts Eric Bossi and Corey Evans? As usual, they have Rival Views.
Bossi's View: Josiah James and Zeke Nnaji
I found the two Aprl live periods to be very beneficial and I learned a lot about the class of 2019. With some time to reflect, the highly regarded player that stuck out most to me was five-star point guard Josiah James and the under-the-radar prospect who really caught my eye was forward Zeke Nnaji.
At Rivals.com, we've been high on James for some time. The 6-foot-6 southpaw from Charleston, S.C., has tremendous size and feel for the game. But, I didn't realize he was this good. I really feel he can make a run at the national top five in 2019 and he's definitely in the argument for top point guard prospect in the class.
Headed into the spring, James had a great recruitment with the likes of Clemson, Florida, Florida State, South Carolina, Stanford and Tennessee standing out. But, that's not necessarily the typical list you see out of a top prospect. That's changing rapidly, though. Duke and Michigan State (where his father Kurt James played) have offered in the past few days while North Carolina and Kansas both appear to be close. The next question is going to be whether building an early relationship will be enough for those who were in early to withstand the oncoming charge of blueblood programs
Moving on to Nnaji, I can't say enough how impressed I was by him. The 6-foot-9 four-man from Minnesota is a kid I liked last summer and he just missed the 2019 Rivals150 when we updated it last month. The next time around, he won't miss and there's a good chance that he will make the highest debut. With his rebounding, his game near the rim and ability to shoot three-pointers, he's at least a top 50 prospect. If what he did in the spring is a true indication of what to expect down the road, then entering into the discussion for five-star consideration isn't out of the question.
Nnaji is planning to visit Minnesota next weekend and Richard Pitino and his staff are trying like heck to close him out. Ohio State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Xavier, Memphis, Creighton and Wisconsin are all in the mix with offers as well, but Nnaji could be another who starts to see the attention of the most elite programs.
Evans View: Jaden McDaniels and Kira Lewis
I got my first glance of Jaden McDaniels this spring and all I could think about is just how good he is and how much better he can become. Like his older sibling, San Diego State standout Jalen McDaniels, the top-50 junior boasts tremendous upside and versatility.
To say that I am glad that we are ahead of the curve with our ranking of McDaniels, placing him into the top 50 of the Rivals150 prior to the start of the travel season, would be a giant understatement. For a program that has never been to the famed Nike Peach Jam, McDaniels is the primary catalyst for his team’s three-win spurt last weekend in Indianapolis.
While McDaniels was already slotted firmly as a strong four-star prospect and within the top 50, it was a lesser-rated prospect, Kira Lewis, that also stood out and has seen his college recruitment soar in recent weeks. Arguably the fastest player in America with the basketball in his hands, Lewis has had a standout past two weekends on the travel circuit, leading to new offers from UConn, Indiana, TCU, Virginia Tech and Florida State.
A two-way producer that brings tremendous toughness, energy and potential to the perimeter, Alabama and Iowa State were two of those out in front for Lewis prior to the two evaluation periods last month. Now, the four-star guard has begun to take phone calls from Kansas and Kentucky, seeing his stock skyrocket like no one else in his 2019 class.