Rivals Roundtable: Greg Brown, emerging prospects, teams under pressure
This week in the Rivals Roundtable, analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald have thoughts on five-star Greg Brown choosing Texas. Plus, which prospects would have been breaking out and which schools are facing important recruiting years in 2021?
1. How big of a win is it for Texas to land Greg Brown and what should we expect from the Longhorns next season?
Bossi: It’s massive. From what I have been told, Brown wasn’t getting Jalen Green money offered to him, but the opportunity to make $300,000 or more in the G League was there, so he didn’t turn down chump change. I wrote in his commitment article that I felt Brown was the most important recruit of the Shaka Smart era in Texas. It’s not just about his athleticism and ability, it’s about adding another piece to a team that should be the best team Texas has had since Smart took the job. Texas should legitimately contend for the Big 12 title and should be a team planning on making at least the second weekend of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Evans: Enormous, and for a number of reasons. Not only is this Smart’s greatest recruiting win to date, but he also defeated a number of national suitors and the deep pockets of the G League. The amount of time Smart and his staff invested into his recruitment should not be understated, nor should the relationship that they built with him dating back to his pre-high school days.
Texas practically returns everyone from last year’s roster that went 19-12 and 9-9 in Big 12 play. The two-headed guard tandem of Courtney Ramey and Matt Coleman should alleviate much of the pressure on Brown. If Andrew Jones, Donovan Williams and Jase Febres knock down open shots a dynamic Brown could allow for Smart to get back to playing how his best teams at VCU did, which is just the type of setting that Brown would thrive in. If that is the case and health is on their side, Texas is a top-three team in the Big 12 and a second weekend in the NCAA Tournament type of squad.
McDonald: This felt like a recruiting battle that Texas absolutely had to win and Smart’s staff did just that. It’s a huge statement for the Longhorns to keep Brown over the temptation of the money the G League is offering as well as scholarship offers from most of the top programs in the country. As big of a recruiting win as it is, it’s equally as big on the court. With just about everyone back from a team that could have made the NCAA Tournament this year, I expect Texas to make a big jump next year and become a regular member of the Top 25.
2. Name a four-star outside the top 50 and a three-star who would have been blowing up on the grassroots circuit right now.
Bossi: Earlier this week in my Bossi’s Best, I spotlighted a handful of players that I could have seen having their recruitment take off, so I’ll pick somebody I didn’t include in that column and go with Micawber Etienne, who currently ranks No. 61 in the class of 2021. He’s got size at 6-foot-10, a great frame and some skill. His recruitment has been crazy lately and he’s already been on the campuses of much of Connecticut, Illinois, Marquette, Providence, Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Syracuse. Kansas, Louisville, Miami and many more have already jumped in and would have been joined by even more watching him play for the PSA Cardinals.
For a three-star I’ll go with athletic junior Josh Farmer from Houston (Texas) Sharpstown. He’s got size to play as a three or a four at 6-foot-8, shoots it some from deep and has a college type body. Houston, TCU and Western Kentucky are among those in early and his stock would be soaring right now if coaches were watching him with the Houston Superstars.
Evans: Dan highlighted him earlier in the week but Jordan Hawkins is one guy that would have seen his stock soar this spring. There is always a need for a good-sized wing that can really, really shoot the ball that is not at a disadvantage in the athleticism department, either. He played behind a giant cast of talent at DeMatha this winter but would have been ‘the guy’ this time around with the Team Durant program. Marquette, Memphis, Seton Hall, UConn and Xavier are five of the programs involved but if the live periods would have remained intact, Hawkins would have been on every recruiting board up and down the east coast by the time May arrived.
If we are going the three-star route, give me Robert McCray, a giant lead guard out of South Carolina that would have suited up for the Upward Stars program on the adidas circuit. McCray is the next from the state that might fly under the radar but break out when he reaches college. He is tough, explosive and can shoot. The upside is evident every time that you throw on his tape. Charleston Southern, Murray State, and USC Upstate have offered but if an April would have been for McCray, there is no doubt a bevy of high-majors would have been enticed.
McDonald: Ryan Mutombo is a four-star that could have really seen his stock continue to rise with a strong travel season. He’s started adding more offers lately from Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Stanford, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech, but it could have reached an even higher level if he could play in front of coaches. North Carolina has been in touch with his travel coach. Georgetown, Georgia Tech and Texas A&M were his earliest offers.
The three-star I thought had a chance to win a lot of people over was Elijah Tucker. He was going to be playing with the Georgia Stars in the Nike EYBL, which would have been a great platform for him to show the improvements he’s made in the past year. He’s a 6-foot-7 forward equally comfortable playing inside and on the perimeter with a great build and pretty good athleticism. His perimeter skills have really improved as well. Georgia Tech is in with an offer, while Clemson, Georgia and a few other high-majors are keeping tabs on him.
3. Which program faces a critical recruiting cycle next year?
Bossi: The 2020 cycle was huge for North Carolina on the recruiting trail, but it is just as important that it back things up with another 2021 class. It may be kind of tricky, too, because it’s not quite clear how their scholarship situation will be. Day’Ron Sharpe, Walker Kessler and Caleb Love are all potential one-and-done players, but none of the three is a lock either.
The Tar Heels already have a versatile combo forward in Dontrez Styles onboard, but more perimeter help would be ideal. We know five-star Kennedy Chandler is on their radar, but he may be an uphill battle based on early returns in his recruitment. Finding another point or combo guard to lock in on would be ideal. I’d suggest guys like Hunter Sallis, Jalen Warley as Rahsool Diggins as guys that they could get involved with.
Evans: I will go with Kentucky and it is not because I don’t see the Wildcats doing well yet again but more about the new G League path which could greatly impact some of their targets. John Calipari can’t be left at the altar. Investing more than a year into recruiting a particular prospect only for the player to decide in April that he wasn’t going to sign after all but instead choose the G-League is a complete no-no.
UK needs to be proactive and also decipher much earlier in the process which prospects are actually interested in the G League and which have the desire to play college basketball.
The 2021 class is already one that is limited for blue-chip recruits and that is before reclassifications take place in the coming months. Kentucky needs to work harder than ever in the intel department in pin-pointing who is worth recruiting before pursuing.
McDonald: This is a unique year because usually I would go with a new coach that needs to make a splash, but there were no coaching changes in the power conferences. Therefore, let’s go with Arizona State. Bobby Hurley made a big splash by landing five-star guard Josh Christopher earlier this month, but I wouldn’t expect him to be on campus more than a year. Assuming both Remy Martin and Romello White come back to school instead of staying in the NBA Draft, that’s at least three impact players the Sun Devils will need to replace after next season, and that doesn’t include the possibility of Marcus Bagley being good enough to leave after a year as well.