Rivals Roundtable: Best 2019 recruiting battle; more
Rivals.com analysts spent their summers traveling across the country watching the best players in the country. This week, they return with analyst roundtable addressing various topics. This week, 2019’s most interesting recruitment leads things off.
1. What is 2019's most interesting recruitment and why?
Eric Bossi: Surely this has to be Kentucky and Memphis duking it out for the services of James Wiseman. It’s got everything you could want for some recruiting drama. A potential game-changing seven-footer, John Calipari battling his old school, Penny Hardaway trying to make a statement in his very first year. I know Wiseman lists six other schools, but I don’t think anybody else on that list figures they have a chance and this one is all Kentucky or Memphis.
Corey Evans: I am guessing that everyone slates Wiseman here, and rightfully so, but I do find the battle for Matt Hurt pretty intriguing. Most of the time, the blue bloods, whenever they feel as if they are losing traction with the prospect’s recruitment, they bow out. Not this time around. The five-star is a top target for Kentucky, Duke, UNC, Louisville, Memphis, Minnesota and Kansas. Where he ends up likely won’t be known until the spring which makes the next six months an interesting one for the super polished forward out of Minnesota.
Dan McDonald: It has to be Wiseman. The fact he has one of the greatest college basketball recruiters of all-time in Calipari recruiting him to Kentucky against his Memphis, who hired his former high school coach and former NBA All-Star Hardaway, is one of my favorite recruiting stories of not just this cycle but in a long time. Memphis has been really hot on the recruiting trail since hiring Hardaway. I can't wait to see which way this one goes.
2. Pick one player in 2019 and 2020 who most elevated their stock in July.
Bossi: In 2019 I’ll go with C.J. Walker. He’s already ranked No. 44, but much of moving him up to there was based on betting that he was going to keep figuring out how to turn all of his athleticism and versatility into consistent production. Consider his mission accomplished and while there could be others that make a bigger overall leap when we update rankings, Walker is going to get serious consideration for five-star status. Memphis, Providence, Texas, Missouri, Arizona and Pittsburgh joined Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, LSU, Oregon, Louisville and others who were already involved.
In 2020 I’m going to go out West and go with Daishen Nix. When I saw him I saw a big, savvy, skilled and tough point guard who might be good enough to play anywhere in America. I’m kind of surprised that more big-time offers haven’t come rolling in just yet. During July, Minnesota and Kansas did join Washington, Grand Canyon and UNLV who had already offered and I expect more to come.
Evans: Kadin Shedrick gets my vote in the 2019 class. The 6-foot-10 center walked into July with a rather minimal recruitment and left it with one full of over 15 high-major offers. Shedrick is far from a finished product and could even use the redshirt year in college to get to where he needs to be, but his physical tangibles, upside and fit in today’s game where he can score inside and out is evident. Someone that entered the month with a lone power conference offer from Ole Miss and is now a national target equates to the top July breakout.
In the 2020 class, Jayden Stone is the guy that really improved his standing nationally. A product out of Australia that moved to the United States a year ago, Stone has been kept off of the radar playing in Alabama this winter. With the Team Carroll 17-under unit, Stone proved that he is worthy of offers from some of the best nationally due to his ability to slide between either guard position but, more importantly, make shots. Kansas State, Iowa State, Creighton, Rice, Georgetown, Murray State and Auburn have all jumped in with offers as a handful of Big Ten programs have begun to show interest, too. Expect for Stone to be a heavily tracked prospect in the coming years thanks to his impressive showing this past July.
McDonald: In 2019, I'd have to do with Chase Hunter. He's currently not ranked in the Rivals150, but the 6-foot-3 athletic scoring guard started adding high-major offers during the April recruiting periods, but only a few. During July, his recruitment went to another level. He scored offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Providence, Virginia and more. I view him as a Top 100 caliber prospect.
In 2020, PJ Hall is somebody that really caught my attention in Orlando. I had never heard of him before seeing him at the Prime Event with Upward Stars 16's, but the more I watched the 6-foot-9 big man, the more I liked. He has a strong build, gets off the floor pretty well, and he does what everyone likes their big men to do now and that's make shots from the perimeter. He appeared to be a Rivals150 caliber prospect, and added offers from Clemson, Florida and Georgia last week.
3. Who is your top player in the class of 2020?
Bossi: I bet you could ask me this on three different days and I might have three different answers, that’s how close current No. 1 Jalen Green, current No. 3 Evan Mobley and current No. 6 Anthony Edwards are in my mind. However, after a summer of watching players my gut and head still say that Green is the best player in the class. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard is one of the most naturally gifted offensive players that I have ever scouted and because he makes things look so easy we sometimes overlook just how great he really is (if that’s possible with somebody so highly ranked). I keep thinking about where he’ll be when all he has to do is focus on his craft and it’s scary to me to think of his potential.
Evans: The debate is not going to stop until the 2020 Rivals150 is put to bed in two years, but I am going to stick with Green. RJ Hampton, Scottie Barnes, Evan Mobley and Edwards each deserve their dues, but Green has held off the charge with a tremendous July. He kicked it off winning the MVP of the FIBA Under-17 World Championships and completed it wowing all of those in attendance with his improved shot selection, awe-inspiring dunks and an evolving set of ball skills and a playmaking prowess. Maryland is the latest to offer and I would expect more elite programs to join Kansas with offers.
McDonald: I've been telling everybody who will listen for a few months now that Edwards should be No. 1 overall in the 2020 class. He really has no holes in his game. He's built like a football player. He's an elite athlete. From a skill standpoint, he can do it all. He has the LeBron James quality of making guys around him better. I love Mobley's upside and Green, Barnes and Hampton are special too, but "Ant Man" should be the No. 1 player in 2020.
4. Who stood out from the class of 2021?
Bossi: There are several guys, including versatile wing Terrence Clarke, super athletic wing Jonathan Kuminga and slick power forward Michael Foster among others that stick out to me. But, rising above all of them at this point is Patrick Baldwin Jr. At 6-foot-8, Baldwin Jr. is as good a jump shooter as there is in America – regardless of class – and he’s got all kinds of skill to go along with that jumper. He has mid-range game, he’s showing post game and the upside for the 15-year-old is off the charts. If I had to vote today, he’d get my vote as the top player in the rising sophomore class.
Evans: Granted he is one of the more well-known names in 2021, but what Paolo Banchero did in July was pretty impressive. He not only left his mark at the famed Nike Peach Jam playing two years up as he was not fazed by the elite competition, but he also ended the month as a steady force in the most heated of battles. Banchero might not be the sexy big man that will become known for his high-flying dunks, but he is a polished 15-foot and in power forward that has a well-developed game for his age. Banchero’s maturity, translatable skillset and IQ are super impressive as he will be one of the most tracked class of 2021 prospects in the coming years. Two years from now, we will be asking how he is still in high school due to how long he has been known nationally.
McDonald: I'm going with Terrence Clark here. I watched him for the first two times in Orlando and couldn't have been more impressed. He passes the eye test right off the bat with his long, athletic 6-foot-7 build. He makes shots, gets to the bucket, and made some really high level passes as well. I was equally impressed that he really seemed to care about being a good defensive player too when I watched. He still has developing to do like any Class of 2021 prospect, but I think he has NBA All-Star potential long term.