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Rivals Roundtable: College hoops season comes into focus

As tip-off for the college basketball season creeps closer,'s basketball staff field a trio of questions regarding players they once scouted now on the big stage.

MORE: Critical official visits this weekend | Rivals150

1. Which new coach will recruits be watching most closely once the season tips off in a couple weeks?

Archie Miller
Archie Miller (USA Today Sports)

ERIC BOSSI: I'm going to go with Archie Miller at Indiana. Since taking the Hoosiers' job in the spring, Miller has done a good job of putting together his 2018 class. However, he's still out there chasing after the nation's top shooting guard, Romeo Langford – who visits officially this weekend – and Langford has said that he plans to wait until after the early signing period to make a decision. Miller is a guy who already has some curb appeal with recruits because he was a perennial tournament coach at Dayton. However, a strong start at Indiana could help with Langford in 2018 and really set the tone for 2019 and beyond.

COREY EVANS: As excruciating as it may have been for Big John Thompson to see his son depart, it looks as if it is a new day for the once-proud Georgetown Hoyas. Can Patrick Ewing lead his alma mater back to the upper echelon of college basketball? The cupboard is not entirely bare at Georgetown and the Hoyas have done a nice job of nabbing a few underappreciated talents from the South this fall on the recruiting trail. If they can outplay the limited expectations placed onto them this season, Ewing could be much closer than many believe in getting his program back onto solid footing.

DAN MCDONALD: Indiana is such a high-profile job in basketball that it's hard for me to think any new college basketball coach will have more eyes on him than Archie Miller. The new Hoosier head coach comes to Bloomington after an incredible run at Dayton, and many expect him to hit the ground running in his new spot. Miller has already hauled in a nice class with three four-star prospects and a three-star prospect, but Romeo Langford is still out there on the market. Depending on when Langford decides to end his recruitment, a strong start this season could help the Hoosiers with the five-star prospect from just down the road.

KRYSTEN PEEK: Brad Underwood is off to a great start at Illinois after landing five-star guard Ayo Dosunmu this week. That might be the first domino to help bring in other guys for the 2018 class. Regardless, Underwood is known to be a good recruiter and the high-major players, especially in the Midwest, will start to think of Illinois as a contender.

2. Which upperclassman are you surprised is still in college because you figured he'd be in the NBA already?

Grayson Allen
Grayson Allen (Associated Press)

ERIC BOSSI: I'm going to go off the radar a little bit and go with Malik Pope of San Diego State. Pope was a non-ranked five-star prospect in the class of 2014 because he basically missed his junior and senior seasons due to leg injuries. Though we couldn't properly evaluate him for the final rankings because of those injuries, what he did while healthy always stuck with me. I'm talking about a guy who is 6-foot-10, was a very smooth athlete and could shoot with range to the three-point line. He was a prototype face-up four-man for the NBA. The loss of those last two years of high school hurt him early in his career at SDSU and he's shown some flashes. If he's healthy this year, he's a prime candidate to have a breakout year and have everybody remember that he was a heck of a prospect.

COREY EVANS: Call me a sucker but I was totally in on Chase Jeter. NBA personnel have become transfixed on big men that can move their feet in defending the high ball screen, prospects that boast excellent physical tangibles and are much younger for their grade level. It all added up for Jeter to show incremental improvements and then take his talents to the NBA. It never worked out for him at Duke and because of it, decided to transfer to Arizona. Perhaps a fresh start could be what gets Jeter and his game back into the proper gear. He looked unconfident and rather timid during his time in Durham. This is still the prospect that was given a five-star ranking and placed above Caleb Swanigan and Luke Kennard in the 2015 Rivals150. Arizona will likely lose Dusan Ristic and DeAndre Ayton after this season; maybe Jeter’s junior campaign in Tucson will bring what I had expected all along?

DAN MCDONALD: It's easy to answer this question with Grayson Allen, so I'll go in a different direction. From the very first time I saw Chimezie Metu, I thought he looked like somebody who could develop into a pro if things went right in college. With the way he's developed at USC, I'm a little surprised he decided to come back this year. He has NBA size, skill and athleticism. But that's good news for Andy Enfield because the Trojans should have a big year as long as the recent college basketball scandal doesn't cripple them.

KRYSTEN PEEK: I'm a little surprised to see Grayson Allen elect to stay all four years at Duke. I think last year was a rough year for him with all the blatant fouling and the negative media. I'm sure he'd rather end his college career on a higher note than that, plus the class Duke had coming in this year was filled with five-star talent. He will be one of the best guards in college basketball this year. Whether it's good enough to help his draft stock is still up for discussion. This freshman class is a strong guard class filled with one-and-dones, so it will be interesting to see how Grayson stacks up with the younger guys.

3. Which two freshmen are you most excited to see face off at the college level after scouting them through high school?

Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr. (Jordan Kodner)

ERIC BOSSI: I've got Dec. 2 circled on my calendar. That's when 7-footers DeAndre Ayton of Arizona and Brandon McCoy of UNLV are scheduled to face off. The five-star prospects were summer teammates on the Nike circuit with California Supreme and they are both big, strong guys who have some skill to their game. It's not often that we get to see guys like this match up on the college level and their styles, size and knowledge of each other's game makes for a matchup that shouldn't be missed.

COREY EVANS: It is more about Michael Porter Jr., the top 2017 prospect and the reason for Missouri’s emergence back into college basketball’s spotlight, against all of the rangy, long and athletic wing-forwards that Kentucky boasts. Thanks to SEC scheduling, Mizzou and UK will play each other twice this year, both occurring in February. The latter contest occurring on Feb. 24 in Lexington, as it would be safe to assume that Rupp Arena will be bumping. This will also give John Calipari the chance to glance back at what had worked and didn’t work the first time the two had squared off. How Porter responds to the length and physicality he will face will be intriguing.

DAN MCDONALD: The freshman I'm most excited to see this year is easily Collin Sexton. I've been watching him since the summer prior to his freshman year of high school, and absolutely love watching him play because he's an incredible talent and it's always a show. He's as competitive as anyone, and he's equally as eccentric in how he carries himself on the court. The matchup I'm most excited to see him in is when Alabama plays Kentucky. The Wildcats brought in two really talented freshmen guards in Quade Green and Shai Alexander. If I know anything about Sexton, he'll be amped up when the Crimson Tide travel to Lexington and you won't want to miss it.

KRYSTEN PEEK: If Alabama ever ends up playing UCLA in the tournament this year we are in for a fierce point guard matchup between Collin Sexton and Jaylen Hands. This mini rivalry started at the McDonald's All-American game last year and then took on a level of its own during the Ball Is Life All-American game a month later, where they went head to head nearly every possession. If the March basketball gods give us this matchup, it'll be a heated battle from start to finish, filled with some trash talking and five-star point guard talent.