Rivals Roundtable: Fast 2020 starts, who could make a run in 2020
This weekend in the Rivals Roundtable, national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald are discussing some of the most impressive early 2020 recruiting starts. They also look at programs who could make runs in 2020 and which class was hardest to rank in preparation of next week’s rankings updates.
1. Which program has impressed most in the 2020 cycle?
Bossi: I really like where North Carolina sits. Roy Williams and his staff locked up power forward Day’Ron Sharpe when he was still relatively unknown and now he’s on the cusp of being a five-star. Sharpe is their only commit, but they are in great early shape with top 10 wing Ziaire Williams, potential five-star Josh Hall is one they could potentially make waves with. Four-stars Caleb Love and Bryce Thompson really like the Heels as do Walker Kessler, Greg Brown, Donovan Johnson, Isaiah Todd and many more highly regarded guys. I’m seeing a big class for the Heels in 2020.
Evans: You have to love what Purdue has done. The Boilermakers went out and nabbed one of the top breakout performers this spring in soon to be four-star Jaden Ivey and then went the extra mile with the commitment of four-star guard Ethan Morton. I don’t think the two guards could be more compatible as a backcourt tandem; Ivey can play to his strengths as more of a scorer while bigger facilitator-type Morton can set the floor out top.
Purdue is not done just yet and while their needs are limited since their backcourt was the primary concern, they are in a great spot with big men Hunter Dickinson and Ben Carlson. Neither are slam dunk pick-ups but they are atop each of their lists which could give Matt Painter a top-15 class and even better one considering that it would bring three prospects to campus that reflect exactly what the program looks for in its recruits.
McDonald: I love what Houston is doing early on in the 2020 class. I think it's always important for programs coming off a big year to capitalize on that success with a strong recruiting haul immediately, and that's exactly what Kelvin Sampson and his staff have done. Not to mention, Tramon Mark and Jamal Shead – who will both be elevated to four-star status in next week’s rankings updates -- are local prospects, which is always a big deal at a big city job like Houston. Don't expect any drop off coming for the Cougars.
2. Which team that finished outside the top 20 in the 2019 team rankings could be in for a big 2020 recruiting cycle?
Michigan State always does well and they didn’t have too many needs in 2019. In 2020, they’ve already got top 50 point guard Jalen Terry and are either the favorites or right in the thick of it for Cam’Ron Fletcher, Bryce Thompson, Isaiah Jackson and Carlos Johnson. Any two of those guys and they’ll have an outstanding class.
Then there is Illinois. The Illini don’t have a commitment yet, but if they can’t have a big year this year, then I don’t know when Brad Underwood and his staff will have a breakthrough. There’s so much talent that they are in on that is relatively local to them and they’ve cast a wide national net too. But with Fletcher, Nimari Burnett, Caleb Love, D.J. Steward, Adam Miller, Ryan Kalkbrenner and many others all being from nearby or having ties to the area, 2020 seems to be the best chance the Illini have had in a while to load up.
Evans: The easiest answer would be Kansas. The 2019 group has been one of the lower ranked classes that Bill Self has ever put together, though they could receive a boost if Jalen Wilson were to commit.
Expect for 2020 to be back to the norm. Daishen Nix, Bryce Thompson, Kyree Walker, Henry Coleman, Josh Hall, and Scottie Barnes are just a few of the top tier prospects that they are involved for as the Jayhawks should have a nice bounce back this fall.
McDonald: Buzz Williams is a terrific recruiter and puts a ton of energy into the process. I see the Texas A&M putting together a strong first class this year and ending up somewhere closer to the top 10 in 2020. Texas is always loaded with talent with plenty to go around for all the schools, and Buzz is never shy about going anywhere or any route to sign good players.
3. Was the 2020 or 2021 class more difficult to rank?
Bossi: I think all of the rankings are tough and at times it feels like herding cats as I look to juggle and balance all of our opinions and settle differences that come up. In 2020, the slotting wasn’t easy but I felt like the top 20-25 was pretty easy to get to.
The class of 2021, though, that one has been tough. We all had different takes as to whether Patrick Baldwin Jr., Terrence Clarke or Jonathan Kuminga should be No. 1 and I joked that all three were the correct answer. Add in that we haven’t seen near as much of 2021 as we have 2020 and it gets a little more difficult.
Evans: Neither has come easy but it has to be the 2021 class. The current sophomore class is still a bit of an unknown but what makes it even more difficult to properly rank is that the top three in the class, and even a group of four thanks to the recent progress of Paolo Banchero, offer little to no clarity.
Clarke is everything one looks for in a next level wing scorer; no one has enhanced their stock greater this spring than Kuminga as he has taken his game to the next level and then some; lastly, Baldwin is an elite shot-maker with great size and fluidity on the perimeter. Picking who is No. 1 and who is No. 3, that along with how great Banchero has been, makes ranking the class of 2021 the toughest.
McDonald: I haven't seen 2021 prospects nationally quite as much as Corey and Eric have and that makes it difficult to have too strong of an opinion on that class. But, there are a lot of prospects who we had to make really tough decisions with in the 2020 class. It's a really deep class across the board and I like the top prospects a ton too. Deciding on a final order for 2020 where it is so evenly matched at the top was tough.