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Rivals Roundtable: Mid-major signees, coaches, top matchups

This week, basketball recruiting analysts Rob Cassidy, Jamie Shaw and Russ Wood tackle several topics about college basketball and hoops recruiting.


Podcast: Why do all the blue bloods stink this season?

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2023 Rankings: Top 30



1. Which prospect committed to or signed with a mid-major do you think will end up being a steal?

Zion Harmon
Zion Harmon (Nick Lucero/

Rob Cassidy: I remain incredibly intrigued by Tulsa commit Teafale Lenard. Lenard kind of slipped through the cracks by virtue of playing high school basketball in semi-rural West Texas and staying off the major AAU circuits. Lenard has the athleticism, motor and skill to make an impact on the Tulsa program from day one.

The most encouraging thing about Lenarrd is that he seems to improve with each passing month. He’s committed to Tulsa but is yet to sign.

Jamie Shaw: I am going to go with A.J. Allenspach, who signed early with Army. Allenspach is a 6-foot-7 wing who can also make shots and really lock up on defense. His dad played major college ball at Clemson. Kudos to the West Point staff for locking this one up before he blew up and I am excited to see what his career shapes up like in the Patriot League.

Russ Wood: I’m going with Zion Harmon at Western Kentucky. The high scoring point guard was a huge get for Rick Stansbury. Harmon should step right in and be a primary option at WKU. Harmon could have the kind of impact at WKU that Tweety Carter had at Baylor.

2. Which coach do you think will be a hot commodity for open jobs in the offseason?

Darian DeVries
Darian DeVries (AP Images)

Cassidy: Drake’s Darian DeVries isn’t exactly a spring chicken at 45-years old, but he got his first head coaching job just a few years ago and has run with it. He’s 63-26 all-time and has the Bulldogs sitting at 19-2 and looking capable of making some noise come March. Should he continue on this trajectory, I won’t be shocked if major programs come knocking. Well-coached teams bounce back from adversity, so the Bulldogs managing to edge Loyola on Sunday a day after being blown out by the very same Ramblers team says a lot about the mental makeup of DeVries's bunch.

Shaw: I think Radford head coach Mike Jones will be a hot name this offseason. He has worked under John Beilein at West Virginia and Richmond, Shaka Smart at VCU and Dennis Felton at Georgia. In his last five seasons at Radford he has accumulated a 93-61 record with two first-place finishes and a second-place finish in the Big South and won an NCAA tournament game in 2018. He has earned Big South Coach of the Year honors twice in the last three seasons and developed last year’s Big South Player of the Year (Carlik Jones) and two Big South Defensive Players of the Year (Ed Polite and Javonte Green).

Wood: I think there will be plenty of interest in Thad Matta if he wants to get back into coaching. Matta’s on-court and recruiting successes are well-documented. He is the all-time winningest men’s basketball coach at Ohio State (337), where he led the Buckeyes to five Big Ten regular-season titles, four Big Ten tournament titles, nine NCAA tournament appearances and two trips to the Final Four. I think it is just a matter of whether Matta want back in and if the right fit is out there.

3. Which game left on the schedule are you looking forward to the most?

E.J. Liddell
E.J. Liddell (AP Images)

Shaw: The matchup I am most looking forward to is Ohio State vs. Michigan on Feb. 21. For starters it is a rivalry game. Add in the fact that both programs are currently ranked in the top-five and it makes for must-see television.

Michigan will be right in the middle of having to play 11 conference games in a 24-day span, while Ohio State has won eight of its last nine games. The matchup within the matchup that I will be watching is E.J. Liddell and Hunter Dickinson, who are both the leading scorers, rebounders and shot blockers for their team.

Wood: Illinois at Ohio State are slated to meet on March 6 and I cannot wait. Both teams are ranked in KenPom’s top-10 in Adjusted Efficiency. Illinois wing Ayo Dosunmu has been on fire lately, averaging 21.7 points, 6.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds in Illinois’ last four games. Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell was averaging 14.9 points and 6.8 rebounds heading into Saturday’s game against Indiana but he is averaging an impressive 18.0 points per game against ranked opponents. Also, Justin Ahrens has made 45-of-94 (.480) of his 3-point attempts. I can’t wait for Illinois at Ohio State.