Rivals Roundtable: Best fits, recruiting approach, 2022 breakouts
This week in the Rivals Roundtable, national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald take a look at incoming freshman ranked outside of the top 50 who are heading into good situations. Also, what to value with a lack of in-person evaluations and 2022 prospects to keep an eye on.
1. What player outside the top 50 in the Rivals150 for 2020 is walking into the best situation?
Bossi: I like that situation KK Robinson is walking into at Arkansas. Transfer JD Notae will be good to go after sitting out the last season, so Robinson won’t have the weight of the program on his shoulders, but he’s also a guy that I feel Robinson can compete with for serious minutes off the bat.
I’ll like Robinson’s situation even better if sharp shooting two guard Isaiah Joe comes back. He would spread the floor and help create room for Robinson’s preferred style of getting into the teeth of the defense and making plays. I also wouldn’t discount how much playing for a national level program like Oak Hill helped to prepare him.
Evans: Hassan Diarra is my pick. Buzz Williams has always had ‘that guy’ to lean on at the lead guard spot that has helped him rise up the ranks to being Texas A&M’s head coach. Junior Cadougan and Justin Robinson more than outplayed their high school rankings at Marquette and Virginia Tech, respectively.
While I am not sure how high his professional ceiling is, it says here that Diarra is the next head of the snake under Williams and the reason why the Aggies will be in the NCAA Tournament by the time he is an upperclassman.
McDonald: I'm going with Reece Beekman and his decision to pick Virginia. I've reached the point with Tony Bennett and his staff at Virginia that I just trust that they are going to make it work with guards. I also happen to think Beekman, regardless of which school he picked, was a strong candidate to outplay his ranking. This is a perfect match.
2. With in-person evaluation lacking for the 2021 class, how would you approach recruiting as a coach?
Bossi: What a loaded question and it depends on personal preference because evaluating mostly off of high school film can be tricky due to how much harder it is to truly gauge size, athleticism and effort. That said, I’d be looking for a known gym rat, high IQ type player who is more of a late bloomer. I want the guy that upon doing a background check all I hear is that he’ll leave no stone unturned to get better.
It is exactly why a guy like Lucas Taylor intrigues me so much. He’s a big two guard with improving athleticism and a great looking jump shot. Everything I hear on him says he’s in love with getting better and he’s in that late-bloomer category. Clemson and Miami both offered this week. They join others like Arizona State, Connecticut, Marquette, Providence, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Xavier and many others. I don’t know of any leaders for him just yet, but if I was a betting man he lands somewhere in the ACC.
Evans: I'm looking for competitiveness. However, it is even more now about who the person is that you’re recruiting. This could be a blessing in disguise. No longer can a coach be fooled by someone’s athleticism but rather, will have to put more weight on who the person really is.
Too often, coaches become enamored with the sexy over the simple. I know, it sounds so easy but it is not. It is why throughout the draft process, those that had never been seen as first-rounders instantly see their stock rise because of 40-inch verticals or 4.3 40-times; now is the time to indulge on the prospect’s make-up, which is why we are so high on Jahmai Mashack and Harrison Ingram.
Both embody tremendous intangibles and have seen their recruitments intensify partially because of it. The entire west coast is now recruiting Mashack while Ingram released his final 10 a few weeks back with it being more of an open race than many assume. Keep an eye on Louisville and Michigan, though North Carolina, Purdue and Stanford are heavily entrenched.
McDonald: Once I finished watching film to decide if a prospect fit the program and has the talent needed, I think I'd really do a lot of homework on trying to figure out the maturity level of the prospect. Did he finish the year strong in school with the shutdown? Is he finding a way to work on his game? Does he jump on a zoom call at the time we scheduled?
More than ever going forward, coaches are going to value having players that are responsible and that can make it work in a tough situation because you never know where things are going for the next year or so with the virus.
Ryan Mutombo jumps out to me on this one. Whenever I need him for an interview and we schedule a time, I can expect him to answer when I call at that time. I've seen him putting work in with his travel coach, former Georgia Tech star James Forrest. I know he finished strong academically this year at one of the top private schools in Atlanta. It's not surprise that his offer list has been growing rapidly in the past few months. I'd expect him to cut his list down soon with Arizona, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Stanford, Tennessee and Virginia Tech among those that will remain in the mix.
3. Who from the class of 2022 is someone who impressed you on film that would have had a breakout spring in front of coaches?
Bossi: If Enoch Boakye was attending school in the States, he likely would be ranked somewhere in the top 50 range of our 2022 Rivals150. Still, we do have the Canadian as a four-star prospect and with good reason. Pushing 6-foot-10, Boakye is more put together like a rising college junior than high school junior. He plays physically in the post, has strong hands and doesn’t stray away from his sweet spot around the rim. Texas Tech and Wake Forest are his most recent offers while Arizona, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, UCLA and others jumped into his recruitment during the winter.
Evans: The name of Brendan Hausen was brought up to me a few weeks ago and I could definitely see us getting him into the Rivals150 before the next update if a reclassification takes place and a spot needs to be filled. The good-sized scoring guard out of Amarillo, Tex., is a tremendous shot-maker that brings toughness and intangibles to the floor that have already made him a heavily coveted recruit. Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Wichita State are among the few that have already offered and while he has to show if he can create efficiently for others and whether he can defend better athletes along the perimeter, there is plenty of value in Hausen. He would have broken this spring.
McDonald: Chase Cormier from here in Georgia is one I wish I would have seen more of before we recently updated and expanded the 2022 rankings. Coincidentally, the last time I saw him in a game was against Mutombo back in December. You could tell he could play, but it was just an off night for him. He's grown to about 6-foot-4 and he can play both guard spots. He's a gifted scorer at all levels. I'm curious to see what he looks like when travel tournaments resume. He's taken some calls from Georgia and several mid-major schools since June 15.