Rivals Roundtable: Big commits, Jalen Wilson, 2020 risers
National analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald are back with another edition of the Rivals Roundtable. This week’s topics include most important upcoming 2019 decision, Jalen Wilson and 2020 rankings.
1. Jaden McDaniels and Trendon Watford should both be off the board sooner than later. Whose decision do you think is most important?
Bossi: I’m going to say that LSU, assuming the Tigers get him, needs Trendon Watford a whole lot more than Kentucky or Washington needs Jaden McDaniels. Don’t get me wrong, the Wildcats and Huskies could surely used a versatile frontcourt player like McDaniel, but LSU will have a pretty big hole on its frontline if the program whiffs on Watford. His skill, scoring and mature game are all needed in Baton Rouge.
Evans: Jaden McDaniels. While San Diego State, Texas and UCLA are a part of his final five, most of the talk surrounds Kentucky and Washington, with a commitment coming at any time. Don’t think that John Calipari hasn’t taken note of what Penny Hardaway has achieved at Memphis and Calipari would love nothing more than to head west again and grab a five-star prospect. The Washington angle here is intriguing. Can Mike Hopkins add a second top-10 prospect to his 2019 class and make the Huskies not just a solid contender out west, but also one that can be the landing spot for elite talent year after year? McDaniels makes Kentucky an even more viable national contender but could change the entire complexion of the Washington program.
McDonald: I'm a big Trendon Watford fan. If he chooses LSU like I expect, his commitment is huge for Will Wade. The Tigers lose a lot of production off this year's team, and need somebody that can not only carry the scoring load but also play a facilitator role. Watford checks both of those boxes, and gives them another player with some size.
2. Assuming that Jalen Wilson gets his release from Michigan, which of the schools expected to be involved with him like Florida, Kansas, North Carolina and Oklahoma State could be the team to beat?
Bossi: I would look for Kansas and North Carolina to be the front-runners with Jalen Wilson. Kansas was involved the first time around, has had him on campus before and are of course recruiting Wilson’s five-star point guard friend R.J. Hampton. They would certainly make for a nice, unexpected package deal. Carolina is also said to hold some appeal in Hampton’s mind as a place he always hoped to have a chance to play. Could others push their way in? No question. But as Wilson restarts his recruitment, I see Kansas and North Carolina at the top for Wilson.
Evans: I think that this is more of a two-horse race between Kansas and North Carolina. Both should receive official visits before mid-June rolls around. KU has a strong in with his best friend RJ Hampton, a potential Jayhawks lean, and already, much of the early talk has surrounded Bill Self's program. However, North Carolina has too big of a hole to fill at the small forward position with the departures of Cam Johnson and Nassir Little. Wilson is a well-thought out kid that will focus on fit and system more than personal relationships. Michigan seemed to be the ideal place in the fall and my guess is that once he gets down it, North Carolina will end up being his destination the second time around.
McDonald: I probably lean towards Kansas here. The Jayhawks were in strong the first time around and the possibility of pairing him up with his buddy R.J. Hampton could be a big deal. All four programs involved make sense though. North Carolina has been hot lately. Oklahoma State has a long history of landing good prospects out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Florida has a great class already that he could add even more to. This one will be interesting for sure with it being so late in the process.
3. Which 2020 prospect currently ranked outside of the top five do you think is most worthy of that status? What's the latest with his recruitment?
Bossi: I won’t be surprised if we all have the same answer here because for me it’s Ziaire Williams that really stands out. He was awesome when I saw him during the high school season and he looked even better when I saw him last week at the EYBL. He has tremendous size (6-foot-8ish), is skilled and everything comes easy to him. At least at the early juncture, it looks like a battle between North Carolina and Stanford to me. The one other guy that I would keep an eye on for making a potential run at the top five would be seven-footer Makur Maker. He’s been tremendous as well.
Evans: Ziaire Williams seems to be the easy pick. What the top-10 small forward has done this spring on the Nike EYBL circuit is impressive. He has posted per-game averages of 26.5 points, eight rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.9 steals. If that doesn’t scream top-five status, I am not sure what does. He fits the modern college and NBA game perfectly thanks to his size, defensive versatility and, most of all, perimeter shot making. Thanks to such valuable assets, he has led a national, blueblood recruitment for over a year now. North Carolina and Stanford are thought of as the two leaders and my best guess would be that he ends up with the Tar Heels. However, the new staff at UCLA has begun to prioritize him, as have other West Coast powers such as Arizona, Oregon and USC.
McDonald: I love the overall talent level and high end potential of Ziaire Williams. He's a really good player now and still has so much room to grow over the next few years. His ceiling is probably as high as anybody's in the class. He would be my choice to vault up into the top five at next update.