Rivals Roundtable: Early Signing Period surprises - and more
The first few days of the Early Signing Period for the class of 2019 have come and gone. In a special Friday edition of the Rivals Roundtable, analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald discuss any surprises, which program is under pressure to get something done in the winter and classes that should be getting a little more love.
1. What is your No. 1 surprise so far in the Early Signing Period?
Bossi: I’ve been surprised by how relatively boring a period it has been. Hoops signing day is never going to be confused with football signing day, where flips and surprises happen, but the class of 2019’s ability to stick to their guns and sign with who they committed to or wait when they said they are waiting cuts down on the surprise factor.
The most notable change of heart that we saw was three-star wing Damerius Wash deciding not to sign with Kansas State, but the Wildcats appeared to be expecting it, considering they signed another three-star wing – Goodnews Kpegeol, who visited last weekend – within 24 hours of Wash opening it up.
Evans: That there has been no surprise. It is pretty crazy just how dead things have been for the first 48 hours, and outside of CJ Walker going against his original plans of keeping his recruitment open this winter and instead sign next Wednesday - and maybe the Chandler Lawson commitment to Oregon - it has been rather bland during the Early Signing Period.
While the majority of the Rivals150 that had already committed have gone on to sign, it seems as if the prospect that had not committed prior to the week will remain uncommitted by the time next Thursday rolls around. That is totally fine, but it takes a little bit of the luster out of the Early Signing Period, and it puts even more importance on what the next few weeks could mean for the programs in the hunt for elite players such as Vernon Carey, Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, three players that I expect to come off of the board before the new year.
McDonald: It hasn't been a very active Early Signing Period for highly ranked available prospects. I'd probably say the one that has surprised me most so far is how the Chandler Lawson recruitment played out over the past week. I had thought it was Oregon for a while, but then there was some chatter that Georgia Tech might get him over the past week after getting the final official visit and his dad's relationship with Josh Pastner. His signing with Oregon wouldn't have surprised me two weeks ago, but I was a little surprised by how the whole thing played out.
2. Assuming many of these top prospects stay true to not signing early, which program is going to be under the most pressure to lock up targets this winter?
Bossi: This one could really go a lot of ways. There is always pressure at Kentucky and Duke, because they’ve been so one-and-done reliant, but with the guys UK has and who should be coming back, it could survive not landing an elite big man like a Vernon Carey or a James Wiseman. Duke desperately needs a big man like Carey or Isaiah Stewart, so it faces pressure. I’ll go with Kansas, though. The Jayhawks don’t yet have any star power in its 2019 class, and they’ve got a lot riding on the recruitment of five-star forward Matthew Hurt.
Evans: The importance of Duke snagging an elite interior producer cannot be understated. The Blue Devils did a fine job of making a move in recent weeks with the commitments of do-it-all five-star wing Wendell Moore and elite sharp-shooter Boogie Ellis. However, if they stand pat for now, the massive void down low in Durham next season will be something that they won't be able to overcome if they want to remain in the national title picture. Without RJ Barrett, Cameron Reddish and, more importantly, Zion Williamson, they will have a spot on the floor that they MUST replace with either Vernon Carey or Isaiah Stewart. If neither of the five-stars see Duke as their best landing spot, it will take a lot of reconfiguration by the winningest coach in Division I history to be able to compete in the ACC.
McDonald: I'll go with Indiana here. The Hoosiers have a chance to add two in-state stars in Keion Brooks and Trayce Jackson-Davis to a class currently being held down by fellow Indiana native Armaan Franklin. Adding two more in-state five-stars after signing Romeo Langford last year would be a great sign for Indiana fans that Archie Miller is going to get the program back on the national stage.
3. Which class should be getting more love, even if the size of it might preclude it from being ranked as high as some others?
Bossi: Corey stole the answer I was going to go with (Ohio State) below. So, I will go with the class that Vanderbilt has lined up. Both combo guard Austin Crowley and big man Dylan Disu rank at the lower end of the four-star scale, and because it’s just those two the class only ranks No. 52 nationally at this point. But, I think each will be a multiple-year starter and once they each have a year or so in the weight room they are guys that could develop into pleasant surprises because they each fit the way Bryce Drew is wanting to play and what he envisions for the future of the program.
Evans: Ohio State's 2019 class, which does sit in ninth in the overall team rankings, is one that should not only infuse the program with talent at various positions, but also could lift the Buckeyes’ chances of a national title in the coming years. Alonzo Gaffney - if he ever puts all together - could outplay his ranking. EJ Liddell isn’t too far behind, and he's coming of age at an ideal time, thanks to his combo-forward skill set that should thrive in Columbus. And DJ Carton is the type of point guard that recent national champions have become to rely upon. The Buckeyes have a roster full of talent this year, but they seem to be missing that premier floor setter. Carton is the ideal remedy.
McDonald: I like what Syracuse has coming in next year. I'm a huge fan of Brycen Goodine. He's right in line with the type of guards who have a ton of success playing for Jim Boeheim. Keeping Joe Girard home gives the Orange a little firepower in the backcourt. Quincy Guerrier is another great fit as a combo forward type, and Jon Bol Ajak can be an anchor in the middle of that 2-3 zone.