Rivals Roundtable: Legit contenders for Cunningham
This week in the Rivals Roundtable national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald tackle some wide-ranging topics. Check out their opinions in this week's Rivals Roundtable.
1. Class of 2020 five-star Cade Cunningham has 10 schools in the mix. Which do you see as the real contenders?
BOSSI: On Thursday, Cunningham released his list comprised of Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Texas, Virginia and Washington. I like Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Texas the best. It seems like OSU could be a sleeper pick here. It has been on Cunningham the longest and built a deep relationship. I remember watching Cunningham for the first time in an early afternoon game the day after Thanksgiving during his freshman year back in 2016. Know who else was there? Cowboys head coach Mike Boynton who while still an assistant had flown overnight, on a major holiday, from coaching in the Maui Invitational to be front and center.
EVANS: You can never discount the typical bluebloods for a guy like Cunningham so definitely count Duke, Kansas and Kentucky as legitimate landing spots. Just as well, Texas and Virginia have definitely piqued his interest to some extent. If John Beilein would not have left for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Michigan would have not only made the list, but would have been in the thick of it until the end. However, the one school that needs the most attention is Oklahoma State. It might seem a bit off but if all things align and thanks to the early work that the Cowboys have invested seeing that they were his first high-major offer, not only is OK State a dark horse, but also among the few early leaders.
McDONALD: Any prospect's list that includes Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina is going to be a tough battle for any other school to win. With Cunningham, it could be one where that happens. Oklahoma State has a lot of momentum in his recruitment and could even be labeled as the leader at this point. However, this isn't a recruitment I see ending any time soon, so there could be some twists and turns along the way.
2. Whose decision to stay in the NBA Draft surprised you the most? What kind of position is the school they left in to replace them?
BOSSI: I could go on for days about eyebrow-raising draft decisions but how about Michigan? Not only does John Beilein bail on it for the NBA, new coach Juwan Howard has to try and account for the losses of Ignas Brazdeikis, Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole. Ouch. These guys are all very good college players but not lock NBA players at this point. I wouldn’t be shocked if they all went undrafted or at least had to wait awhile to hear their names called. Four-star wing Cole Bajema is it so far for help from the class of 2019 and the leftover high school and grad transfer recruiting pool is pretty slim. Somebody currently on the roster such as Brandon Johns, Eli Brooks or David Dejulius are going to have to step up their game.
EVANS: I look at Auburn losing both Jared Harper and Chuma Okeke. I guess I can get Harper as he may have felt that he achieved all that he could in college and was ready to give his try at the NBA. However, Okeke’s departure is puzzling, not because of how talented he is, but rather that he is rehabbing from a torn ACL and his rookie year will be more comparable to that of a redshirt season. The Tigers should be able to fill some of the Harper loss with Rivals150 senior Tyrell Jones, a tough and gritty guard that is a tone-setter out top. Okeke’s all-around game will be tough to replace. Jaylin Williams and Isaac Okoro must be ready to go as freshmen and Anfernee McLemore may have to round out his skillset even further if Auburn hopes to replicate last season’s success.
McDONALD: I was surprised to see Armoni Brooks from Houston stay in the NBA Draft this year. I really thought the Cougars would get one more year out of him. The good news for Kelvin Sampson and his program is they did a terrific job recruiting Caleb Mills last year, beating out several ACC schools, and brought him to campus mid-year to get him working with the team a semester early. Mills should be able to step right into that role and the Cougars should once again be one of the top teams in the AAC.
3. Which star of the NBA Finals do you wish you had either seen or seen more of as a high schooler. Should we have seen his stardom coming?
BOSSI: I’m going to go with Kawhi Leonard here. I had the opportunity to see Leonard a few times during summer play but not enough to get a great feel for him or think to myself “Holy crap, they got that guy?” when he committed to San Diego State. I certainly thought he was good. However, I never got to see him with his high school team and I really wish I could have. Back when he was in high school I was working for Prepstars.com and my co-worker there, Rob Harrington, saw him as a senior and swore up and down that Leonard should have been a McDonald’s All-American, should have been a five-star and that he would go on to NBA stardom.
EVANS: I am a stickler for shot-makers that compete with an innate confidence about them that. Even if they miss 10 shots in a row, they believe the next 20 will go in, which leads me to Stephen Curry. I would have loved to see the skinny Curry during his younger high school days and whether everyone, for the most part, missed on him, or that he just transformed year-by-year into what we see today as one of the game’s greatest. In retrospect, it is still crazy that he was practically begging to play for his father’s alma mater, Virginia Tech, and they didn’t think that he was good enough for more than a walk-on spot. Now, it might be difficult to select five greater point guards to ever play the game. Should we have seen the stardom coming? No, not even Curry himself will say that he knew what he was about to achieve. But man, it would be fun to go back and see history in the making.
McDONALD: This one is easy to answer after watching Game 1. Pascal Siakam was an absolute monster for the Raptors in that win. I wish I had seen him coming up. I don't even remember hearing his name until he was drafted by the Raptors in 2016. He's come on in a big way this year, and I wish had been able to see him as a younger player to know if it was situation where you could predict this success or it was a big surprise.