Rivals Roundtable: Jay Wright, regrets at No. 1 and key remaining 5-stars
Rivals.com basketball analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald are back with their weekly recruiting roundtable. Should Jay Wright be getting more recognition as a recruiter? Which college player could make them regret not ranking him No. 1 and which remaining five-star is most important to a program that is recruiting him? The analysts give their takes.
1. Jay Wright has a reputation as an at developing talent for his system. Is he underrated as a recruiter?
Bossi: At this point, we absolutely have to consider Jay Wright one of the game’s elite recruiters. No, he’s not getting as many top 10 kids as say John Calipari or Mike Krzyzewski but he’s got two in that range in the 2019 class in power forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and shooting guard Bryan Antoine. Add that to all of the top 50 type talent Wright is landing and the success that players are now having at Villanova and it’s hard to deny he’s among the game’s best whether it be as a recruiter or a coach.
Evans: Why the heck not? I mean, the guy just gets it. Sure, Wright fell for the ‘swing for the fences’ sentiment following the 2011 season which in turn, led to a few stepback years along the Main Line. Ever since, he got back to what got him there in the first place which was identifying the proper kids to recruit, prioritizing them above all else compared to maybe the more highly touted prospects, landing such talent and then cultivating it to the extent now that the Wildcats are in the running for what could be an unheard of three national titles within four years.
Thanks to the heightened success of his program and just how personable Wright is, Villanova can now aim higher. This 2019 class is more of a build-up then a flash in the pan, furthering his stance as one of the top recruiters in the land.
McDonald: If our description of being an elite recruiter simply means signing the highest ranked prospects, I would say he's very good but not elite. If our description is finding the best fits for his program and getting them to sign, then he's absolutely elite. He's found the recipe that works for him at Villanova and it's showing. Winning two our of three national titles is incredibly impressive.
Which college player has the potential to make you regret not making him the No. 1 player in his class?
Bossi: This answer is pretty simple for me: Bol Bol. At 7-foot-2 he’s freakishly fluid, has crazy length and most importantly he has a ridiculous level of skill. I watched him in an exhibition game on Thursday night and things he was doing – like driving baseline left before using a behind the back dribble to a step back 17 foot jumper – simply aren’t things a human his size should be capable. R.J. Barrett is considered a heavy favorite for the No.1 pick in the 2019 Draft and is a worthy No. 1 player for the class of 2018. But if Bol is getting truly serious about his game, he could garner a lot of consideration for the top pick.
Evans: Nassir Little gets my vote. He might not put up the numbers that Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett or even Romeo Langford or Darius Garland this season but the upward trajectory that the UNC wing has shown in recent years, physical tangibles and the fact that he just ‘gets-it’ shows to me that he has the chance to be a superstar.
Sure, much has to go right for him, but the Kawhi Leonard comparisons are not far off; he is a late bloomer that can play three positions and has an aura about him that you just know that he is going to make it.
McDonald: I would have had Little in the top spot in the 2018 class. I just love his game, his work ethic, and he picked the perfect spot for his game to flourish. I think he'll have a monster year at UNC and be in consideration for the No. 1 pick in next year's NBA Draft.
3. Which available five-star is most critical to the team recruiting him?
Bossi: Kentucky and Michigan State each need to land one of the big men they are deeply involved with. Vernon Carey, James Wiseman and Isaiah Stewart for Kentucky, Carey and Stewart for Michigan State. Kansas, could really use sharp shooting forward Matthew Hurt. But landing Cole Anthony at North Carolina is more important for Roy Williams than any of those single players is for the other coaches. The Heels are hoping to build their recruiting class around Anthony and they could really use a ball handler. Not getting him would hurt.
Evans: Carey is a crucial prospect for each of the schools in his final five and while Stewart and Wiseman could receive the spotlight, too, it is paramount that Duke lands the top ranked player in America.
Kentucky is going to find a way to solidify its frontline while Michigan State is going to be fine either way, but for the Blue Devils, who is going to man the paint next year in Durham? Williamson and Barrett are all but gone and with the lack of production by Marques Bolden at the five, a massive hole remains, a spot on the floor that they would love for Carey to fill.
I do not feel great about Stewart signing with Duke, which would mean it is Carey or bust. No Carey means a frontcourt of Bolden and Javin DeLaurier, at best, next season with really no one else to relieve each whenever they go to the bench. If Coach K wants to have the chance to coach at the highest level and fight for another national title, Carey is a must-get.
McDonald: It just feels like Memphis is a program that has so much momentum right now that is almost coming to a fork in the road. If Penny Hardaway can sign Wiseman, the Tigers could be on a path back to where Calipari had the program. If Wiseman goes elsewhere, it feels like that would be a pretty significant blow and could even slow the momentum they are building with other prospects. Without question, he's the most important prospect to a particular school in this cycle.