Rivals Roundtable: Rankings, Michigan, new coaches
This week in the Rivals Roundtable, national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald take a look at prospects deserving of a five-star bump. Other topics include, who Juwan Howard’s top target in 2020 should be and newly hired head coaches going on a first-year recruiting run.
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Which 2020 and 2021 player do you think is most deserving of a move to five-star status?
Bossi: From the class of 2020, we need to be thinking real hard about making current top 60 wing Josh Hall a five-star prospect. He’s got great size, he can shoot with deep range and he’s getting better at a rapid rate. My only surprise with him so far is that the bluebloods – especially Duke and North Carolina in his home state – haven’t come calling outside of a Kansas offer. In 2021, the answer is pretty easy and it’s got to be Chet Holmgren. The 7-footer is maybe the most unique player regardless of class right now due to his size, skill and how much he gets done. He’s a true rim protector on one end and a three-point shooter on the other. What he does despite his skinny frame is very notable.
Evans: I already addressed in full the five-star legitimacy of DayRon Sharpe earlier this week so I will leave him be for now but, rest assured, he is more than deserving of the prestigious bump. This leads me to Nimari Burnett, who is the last man looking in on the five-star territory. Burnett does everything imaginable on the floor and has the intangibles to match. A giant guard that can play on and off the ball, he is a tough and willing competitor, and has the extra length and strength to defend three position.
A year younger is Jabari Smith, someone that I have been saying that is worthy of at least a top-10, if not a top-five ranking. I would not be surprised if he were to not finish things out as the top prospect in the 2021 class. He oozes with talent and raw abilities. The son of a former NBA veteran that brings a versatile, multi-dimensional skillset to the floor, Smith has the complete package.
McDonald: For the 2020 class, I really think UNC commit Day'Ron Sharpe needs to be bumped up into five-star status at next update. He's worked himself into great playing shape this year. He's dominant in the paint with his strength, toughness and improved athleticism, but he's also competent playing away from the basket as well. He's going to be a good one for Roy Williams.
In the 2021 class, I'd have to go with Jabari Smith. He's just so naturally talented and has crazy upside. He reminds me a lot of Nicolas Claxton at the same age but more advanced, and let's keep in mind Claxton is now considered a borderline first round pick after his sophomore season at Georgia. Smith's combination size, length and athleticism combined an always improving skill level makes him a big time prospect.
2. If you are Juwan Howard and Zeb Jackson is still committed to Michigan, who is your top priority in the class of 2020?
Bossi: Isaiah Jackson has to be the guy. He’s an in-state kid, he’s a five-star prospect, he’s an elite shot blocker and Michigan State also wants him badly. Let’s face it, if Howard wants to succeed in Ann Arbor he’s going to have to be able to square up with Izzo for players and beat him. Why not get started by trying to beat him for the best local prospect? Given Howard’s experience, one would think that Jackson would at least have to give him a real listen and chance to show his vision for the Michigan program.
Evans: Adam Miller. I outlined some of the reasons why Miller will likely be a priority for Juwan Howard but for a quick recap, he is from the same hometown (Chicago) as Howard, an area that I expect for him to greatly tap into, brings tremendous toughness to the floor, and is someone that can play either guard spot, further complementing Zeb Jackson in the backcourt. By landing Miller, Howard would send an immediate sign that the Wolverines will not be a pushover along the recruiting trail and that they are going to not just pursue the best from the Midwest, but also land such talent. Miller’s recruitment is still just expanding as Memphis, Illinois, UCLA, USC and several others are involved but he would be the guy that I would chase after for a variety of reasons.
McDonald: College basketball is a guard's game. Juwan Howard is from Chicago. If we build off that, four-star shooting guard Adam Miller feels like an obvious choice to be Howard's top target. He's an elite scorer and could be really good alongside Jackson. Arizona State, Illinois, Louisville and UCLA have already done a really good job with him, but I suspect Howard could make a dent in his recruitment quickly.
3. Which newly hired coach do you think is most capable of putting together a top 10 recruiting class in 2020?
Bossi: I will go with Buzz Williams at Texas A&M. Of any coach in a new spot, he’s probably in the best position for early success. Not only does he have lots of experience, but Texas is home and he’s been working on kids within the state while he was at Virginia Tech so he’s not really had to introduce himself to an entirely new set of prospects. Can he make up ground to close on a fast-rising four-star such as Micah Peavy? Can he pull a rabbit out of his hat with one of the state’s many other big-timers? We’ll see but whether he lands an elite class or not, Williams is a sure bet to land a very solid first class.
Evans: The easy answer is UCLA primarily because of the name and the locale. The Bruins have yet to find any momentum on the recruiting trail but by recently naming Michael Lewis, a native of the Midwest, as an assistant, and Mick Cronin bringing Darren Savino, who has tremendous East Coast ties, with him, expect for UCLA to recruit coast to coast. However, Cronin still understands that he must protect his home turf which is why he will prioritize Ziaire Williams. The Bruins’ brand could entice Williams, and it could do the same for Nimari Burnett, Josh Christopher, and Daishen Nix, thus creating a super team of the West Coast’s elite. The wildcard? Alabama could be one that, if things break properly, make a move and finish with a top-10 class nationally thanks to their willingness to recruit locally and also across the nation this spring.
McDonald: Maybe it's just so fresh and I'm buying into the hype, but I really think the answer to this could be Juwan Howard. He brings instant credibility with him to Michigan much like Penny Hardaway did last year at Memphis. He's a former NBA star, a Fab Five member, tight with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and has been around the grassroots scene with his son, 2022 point guard Jett Howard. If you watched the 30 for 30 on the Fab Five, San Diego State head coach Brian Dutcher, who was the assistant that recruited Howard to Michigan, said Howard played a big part in recruiting the other members of that class. I'd be shocked if he doesn't hire a staff that can hit the ground running in recruiting. I see Michigan scoring a really good first class under Howard.