Rivals Roundtable: NBA Draft surprises, re-ranks, June camps
The Rivals Roundtable is back and this week national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald are tackling a number of timely topics. They discuss the most surprising Draft night happening, rankings do-overs and this weekend’s live session for college coaches.
1. What surprised you most on NBA Draft night?
Bossi: Probably the biggest surprise to me was Bol Bol slipping all the way to No. 44 where he was picked by Miami and then dealt to Denver. As it turns out, Denver could actually end up a great spot for Bol, but him having to wait so long really caught me by surprise. I get that he has been hurt and there are some questions about his being somewhat of a basketball vagabond, but the NBA has been more than willing to draft players with injury issues – just look at how high Darius Garland went on Thursday night.
We also saw former highly ranked players like Nazreon Reid, Louis King, Jontay Porter, Luguentz Dort, Jaylen Hoard and many others like preps-to-pros hopeful Jalen Lecque go undrafted. Some got bad advice, some didn’t have a big enough body of work, some had other issues and some asked not to be drafted so they could look for the best free agent opportunity.
Nevertheless, it’s a tough lesson to learn at 18-22 years old. From talking to NBA teams, so many of these guys are only listening to what they want to hear instead of what is reality. Also, as character becomes more and more important to NBA franchises, players are getting judged just as much – and in some cases even moreso – by the company they keep as they are their own character.
Evans: If I would have told any North Carolina fan or, really, any NBA or college basketball loyalist in general, that Cameron Johnson would be selected 14 spots ahead of Nassir Little, their first reaction would have to be total disbelief. However, that is exactly what played out on Thursday evening.
I am not knocking the Phoenix Suns for selecting Johnson 11th overall, where his skill set and shot-making prowess should translate seamlessly to the NBA. Rather, no one taking a shot at Little, who was in the conversation for the top ranking within the final Rivals150 just a year ago, is a bit perplexing. I get that he didn’t find strong footing in Chapel Hill and looked a bit lost at times but still, his fall to 25th overall might have been the most surprising sight from the 2019 NBA Draft Night and might give the Trail Blazers someone that could out play his final draft selection.
McDonald: I was surprised how high Cam Johnson went. I figured he would go in the first round, but never expected him to go 11th overall (side note: Coby White's reaction to finding out about this pick was the best). I was thinking somewhere in the 20's, but good for him.
I actually like the pick because I think he has real value. He has size and as Jay Bilas noted, he's possibly the best shooter in the class. Perimeter shooting is as important as it has ever been in the NBA. By all accounts he's a great teammate and locker room guy. If he can stay healthy, Johnson could have nice NBA career.
2. You get one ranking re-do for 2019, 2020 or 2021. What is it?
Bossi: Man, there are so many to choose from, but I will go with Zeke Nnaji here. Headed to Arizona, he just missed five-star status and he should have been a five-star. He’s got too much of a combination of size, athleticism and skill facing the rim to not think he has a chance to play at the highest level sooner than later. It will not surprise me at all if he goes on to be the best NBA prospect of anybody in the Wildcats celebrated 2019 recruiting class.
Evans: No surprise here but seeing that I have been one of the biggest advocates of Casey Morsell throughout the years and after evaluating him for another three days this past week at the USA under-19 trials, I would love to see him get another bump in what is now the completed Rivals150.
Sitting at 63rd in America, it is not a disrespectful ranking but rather a safe one. I want to go with the home run rating here. He has not stopped getting better and at worst, is going to give Virginia a four-year shot maker that brings competitive qualities and a stronger frame to defend in the backcourt. Under the tutelage of Tony Bennett and knowing the type of kid that he is, someone that is going to work for whatever is allotted towards him, Morsell is destined to succeed and, in my mind, be selected in the NBA Draft one day. Give him at least a 20-spot bump and we will look great because of it.
McDonald: I think we have Dwon Odom too low in the 2020 class.I wasn't at NBA Top 100 camp, but it sounds like he was great up there. I watched him in a team camp earlier this month and he looked really good. I love his size, strength, athleticism and ability to make plays as a point guard. He's very unselfish and has great leadership qualities. If his jump shot ever catches up to his ability to finish around the basket, he has NBA potential. I view the Xavier commit as a top 50 prospect in the class.
3. Will this weekend's evaluation period for coaches at high school team camps be a success or failure?
Bossi: As much as I have harped on the NCAA, the idea for June evaluations in a high school setting was a good idea. The implementation – especially communication with the states before throwing it on them – could use some improvement next year, but overall it’s a good idea.
I’ve talked to several coaches who are glad for a different type of setting to watch players in and it is giving many kids needed extra looks since July has been cut down. There will surely be some ideas for slight changes in the future, but overall the idea of these two weekends are a good idea, should be successful and I hope we find a way to get each and every state on board with it next year.
Evans: We will be headed to Georgia for the state’s high school event and from the looks of it, the organization, depth of teams and scheduling seems to be awesome. I am not sure that every state will be that way, but I am pretty confident that it will be a rousing success.
All that the college coaches really want is a structured setting to evaluate their top recruits and in also finding future ones to target, which is exactly what they will get these next two weekends.
Where my questions remain is in the end of July with the NCAA regional camps. This weekend and the following, I do not see failure being an option. It might be a first-year run by the national high school federations, but they are not going to support a sloppy, unorganized event. However, ask me again at the end of July what the feedback might be following the regional camps and my answer is likely to be a little more different.
McDonald: The June recruiting periods are actually the one change to the recruiting calendar I like. I'm not sure coaches are thrilled about being out in June, but it will be beneficial to them. I've never been a fan of individual camps as it is an impossible setting to get a good evaluation on players, but I really like the team camp idea, especially in talent-rich states. I like that coaches get to see players both with their travel teams and high school teams. We'll look back at this weekend as a success, at least in states doing team camps as opposed to individual camps this weekend.