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Rivals Roundtable: A modified hoops season; would-be breakout players

Mark Mitchell
Mark Mitchell (Courtesy of USA Basketball)

This week in the Rivals Roundtable, national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald have lots to discuss. Are moves in the Big Ten, Ivy League and other conferences worrisome for winter hoops? Which players would they have liked to see during what would have been a live period?

MORE: Seven storylines to watch for the rest of 2020

2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

2022 Rankings: Top 75


1. How concerned should college hoops fans be in wake of the decisions altering college football schedules in the Big Ten and Ivy League last week?

Bossi: For the bigger budget programs in mid- to high-major conferences, I don’t see too much cause for concern just yet. They will find a way to make it happen if at all possible and have the means to do so. I’m sure they are watching the pro leagues closely to help guide them.

For the smaller programs, though, there is absolutely reason for concern. If out-of-conference play gets cut, the status of money those programs earn in “buy” games could be an issue. Hopefully the contracts would be honored, but if not, that loss of revenue could have a big impact for the programs whose athletic departments are very dependent on them hitting the road and getting paid to fill out schedules.

Evans: I hate to use the word ‘concerned’ regarding college athletics whenever there are bigger and even more important things at stake, as in the general health and well-being of everyone, but it does not look good. Maybe this pandemic just causes an even bigger gap between the haves and have-nots of the sport and the power conferences complete all of its league games while the lows and mid-major leagues that might not have the proper funding are unable to get their seasons off the ground.

I do believe that there will be some type of truncated season for a select group that will look like what the Ivy League previewed earlier in the week, but I would be surprised if, three years from now, we have the same amount of Division 1 programs that we do today because of the lasting impact of the virus.

McDonald:I had a college source tell me a few weeks ago that he had real concerns about how and if the season would take place unless changes are made to the current protocol. The problem right now isn't just athletes testing positive for the virus. It's that when one athlete tests positive, it means anyone on the team he's spent significant time with has to quarantine for two weeks now in a lot of places too. That could be a real problem if that's the standard that sticks throughout the season.

2. Who are some 2021 players you wish you were watching during a live period?

Bossi: I was really looking forward to seeing Florida State commitment Byrce McGowens hit he floor. The 6-foot-6 wing from South Carolina made a big jump from No. 51 up to No. 37 in our most recent update to the rankings and he may have proved that we could have gone even higher. He has range on his shot, is a plus athlete and is just starting to grow into his body.

The Seminoles have a tremendous prospect in the fold and based on how he would have played with Team Thad this summer, McGowens could have really put himself into the mix for five-star status and McDonald’s All-American talk.

Evans: Jaden Hardy from Vegas and Vegas Elite. There is not a lot of elite guards in the 2021 class, especially at the off-guard position, and Hardy has seemingly found a way to separate himself from the rest of his peers. My fellow analyst Eric Bossi spoke about his amazing high school season at Coronado, one that I was unable to see due to scheduling. How good has Hardy become and should he be the unquestioned best 2-guard in his class?

He doesn’t seem to be willing to end his recruitment anytime soon but if he did, it would be in favor of Kentucky. Competition remains fierce for his commitment in which Arizona, Oregon, and UCLA are the programs out west involved, but so is Texas Tech and Michigan, where he is originally from.

McDonald: Really any of the guys who were blowing up with offers during the last few months when the sports world was shut down. D'Marco Dunn out of North Carolina was one I was really curious to see play with Garner Road. His recruitment really blew up with offers from several high-majors towards the end of the season, but eventually netted offers from Arizona and North Carolina. It's probably safe to say he's North Carolina's to lose at this point.

3. Who from 2022 or 2023 do you feel coaches would have fallen in love with during a live evaluation period?

Bossi: I’m going to stay in my backyard here and go with Mark Mitchell of Roeland Park (Kans.) Bishop Miege and KC Run GMC. Even though we have the five-star highly ranked at No. 13 nationally in 2022, he was still flying way under the radar until recently. Up until a month ago, Kansas was the only school to offer before Arkansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas, UCLA, USC and Wake Forest jumped in.

Watching Mitchell, I’m reminded an awful lot of watching Harrison Barnes play at the same age. Sound, plays on both ends, solid athlete who doesn’t have much fluff in his game. Assumptions from the coaching community that he would be a Kansas lock and him missing most of last summer with injury kept schools away early. But, he would have opened even more eyes this week.

Evans: It seems that the state of South Carolina consistently has that ‘one guy’ every year and in the 2022 class, it is Julian Phillips. The Upward Stars’ forward has continued to grow and while he does have to get stronger, the ball skills, versatility, and upside is staggering with the 6-foot-7 sophomore. He is someone that can move between positions in the frontcourt and also hold his own at each end of the floor. Practically half of the SEC has offered, along with Arizona State, Kansas and Texas Tech. However, it won’t be before Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina enter the picture and make Phillips one of the most recruited prospects nationally.

McDonald: Isaiah Collier in Georgia missed the end of the high school season with a collar bone injury after having a great start to his freshman season. He's a really gifted point guard that sees the floor as well as any young player I can remember, but now he's grown to about 6'3 and looks even more athletic than before. He already has several early high-major offers from Clemson, Florida, Georgia Tech and Ole Miss, but I could see his recruitment reaching the highest level of the sport before long thanks to his play with TSF.