Rivals Roundtable: Thoughts on Cunningham, Love, Beauchamp
This week in the Rivals Roundtable, Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald have plenty to discuss. Do they think anybody can beat out Oklahoma State for Cade Cunningham, who are the real contenders for Caleb Love and what to make of Marjon Beauchamp?
2021 Rankings: Rivals150
1. Class of 2020's No. 2 player Cade Cunningham released a top five of Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Washington on Thursday. With his brother on staff at OSU, can anybody beat the Cowboys?
Bossi: In a word, no. I’ve seen plenty of things during my 20 years in the business and have learned to never say never, but I would think that the coaches at all of Cunningham’s final five programs not named Oklahoma State know what they are up against. I saw the Cowboys as the team to beat even before Cannen Cunningham joined the staff because of the work head coach Mike Boynton had been putting in personally. Now, he’s worth taking a swing on for the other guys, but I’m pretty sure they know what they are up against.
Evans: I highly doubt it. I was, though, intrigued by his list where you have two bluebloods in Kentucky and North Carolina, along with two others in Florida and Washington, programs that he has developed a good rapport with the head coach at each respective program. Maybe one of the four catches his eye during his official visit tour as I highly expect for Cunningham to take all five visits before committing. However, Mike Boynton would not have hired Cunningham’s brother (not to slight him to the least because he is the person that has trained the five-star over the years) without ultimately landing him. Sure, we have seen crazier things happen in recent years but Boynton was also the first to give Cunningham a power conference offer, personally recruited him the longest and has made it evident that Cunningham could change the complexion of the entire program.
McDonald: I'd be really surprised if Cunningham went anywhere other than Oklahoma State. Those other four schools have recruited at a really high level lately. but I just can't see him not following his brother to Stillwater. Mike Boynton is a terrific recruiter and having the family connection on his side will be too much for the other schools to overcome in my opinion.
2. One of the most interesting recruitments to follow in the class of 2020 is that of combo guard Caleb Love. He announced on Friday that he's down to a final six of Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, Missouri and North Carolina. How do you see this one unfolding?
Bossi: I’ll get right to it. This looks like a race among Kansas, Louisville and North Carolina to me. Louisville has been the most aggressive with him for the longest and Kansas and North Carolina bring blueblood status to the table. I do think that Kansas' relative proximity to home (and Louisville isn’t that far away either) and the fact that he has family in Kansas City could eventually be helpful to the Jayhawks. But as of today, I think it’s a real close call between them and the two ACC programs.
Evans: Love will likely visit Louisville the last weekend in September and I see him taking an official visit to the others on his list outside of Missouri, which he might take an unofficial visit to thanks to its close proximity to him. I don’t see him going westward to Arizona and while Indiana has remained in the hunt, my guess is he does not land there, either. Missouri is the home state school but I doubt he chooses the Tigers. Kansas and North Carolina offer the blueblood landing spot and they are definitely two to watch but no one has recruited Love longer or invested more attention in him than the Cards.
McDonald: It would surprise me if Love's recruitment doesn't come down to a battle among Kansas, Louisville and North Carolina. All three will be in need of a point guard ready to run the team the second he steps on campus. I'll take a little bit of a shot in the dark and predict North Carolina wins out here, but it wouldn't surprise me if Kansas or Louisville comes out on top.
3. Top 30 wing Marjon Beauchamp has announced that after his senior season he will skip college to focus on training for the NBA Draft. What are your thoughts on this move?
Bossi: Hey, I’m all for it if this is what Beauchamp and his family feel is best for him. More and more we are seeing kids take alternative routes to the NBA and many of them have been working out. Now, I don’t quite understand committing 100% to this so early and I do think that there is value to be gained in college basketball. But, look at the two most recent players to take a similar path, former five-stars Mitchell Robinson and Darius Bazley, and it’s worked out pretty well for them so far. Robinson looks to be on his way to a tremendous career with the Knicks and Bazley got paid a million dollars by New Balance during his year away and was drafted in the first round by Oklahoma City. Now, Beauchamp isn’t quite on the same level as those guys as a prospect just yet, but the 6-foot-6 guard has a chance.
Evans: Not a fan. I get the fact that he is invested entirely in getting better which will come through a tenuous year-round training plan but Beauchamp is better off either using the new G-League initiative, going overseas like RJ Hampton, or playing a year in college. A year sitting out with zero in-game reps is not going to help Beauchamp get to where he needs to be. I will say, though, I am not entirely surprised by such a decision as his recruitment has been rather minimal for the type of prospect that he is. I really believe in the talent and the upside that Beauchamp boasts, but I am not a giant fan in his choice. Why corner yourself when there are so many other opportunities to choose from?
McDonald: I touched on this Friday in my McDonald's Nuggets column, but I'd like to really start by saying I support all athletes in the decisions they make. I hope Beauchamp came to this decision after a lot of thought and discussion with those closest to him. If he's cool with it, I'm not here to judge. As for the big picture, I just worry that basketball prospects often don't understand how valuable the college experience can be. For a prospect that isn't a five-star or a lock to be a lottery pick after a year of college, I do have doubts on how this will go for Beauchamp. But college isn't for everybody and he can make a lot of money in leagues not named the NBA all over the globe.