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Rivals Roundtable: Who needs to step up? Plus, top matchups, more

Samuell Williamson
Samuell Williamson (Nick Lucero/

This week in the Rivals Roundtable, basketball analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald are firing up more opinions on college basketball and recruiting. This week, they discuss seniors they were expecting more from, under celebrated commitments and potentially fun matchups between now and the New Year.

1. Which college junior or senior who had big expectations coming into the season most needs to step things up for his team to be a title contender?

Luke Maye
Luke Maye (Bruce Young/Tar Heel Illustrated)

Bossi: In order for North Carolina to make a run at the National Championship I think they need to get more from Luke Maye. Maye hasn't been bad by any means while averaging 13.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. But, he hasn't been the potential All-American that many (myself included) thought he would be headed into the season. After shooting 40% or above from three the last two seasons, Maye has regressed this year and is making just 31% of his shots from deep. For the Heels to be their best, he's got to find his stroke.

Evans: At Florida, Mike White was hoping to rely heavily on Jalen Hudson and KeVaughn Allen in the early going this season. While Allen has come on of late and shown microwave scoring abilities, it has been a major step-back year for Hudson. One would believe that a redshirt senior with his talent level and the chance to work his way into first round of NBA Draft talk would be motivated and more than capable of a productive senior campaign. Instead, the Gators are struggling to find a go-to scorer while Hudson has made less than a fourth of his shots and chipping in close to three points per game over his last six. Florida needs Hudson to be the Hudson of yesteryear or a run in the NCAA Tournament will definitely not be in the cards.

McDonald: Averaging 14.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game isn't bad, but if I'm being completely honest, I expected more from Reid Travis at Kentucky this year. I don't think it's time to panic yet as I think he is still trying to find his place on a team with several new players in key roles. I still think Kentucky figures it out in the next month or so and Big Blue will be a major factor come tournament time, and I think their success will coincide with Travis seeing his numbers go up.

2. Which committed 2019 player have you seen this winter whose potential impact in college should be getting more notice?

Samuell Williamson
Samuell Williamson (Nick Lucero/

Bossi: I just can't help but think people across the industry haven't made a big enough deal of how good Samuell Williamson could be for Louisville. Maybe others haven't seen enough of him or maybe it's him going bonkers when myself and Corey have seen him this season, but he's a guy that we feel will move up from his current spot of No. 35 in the 2019 Rivals150. As far as I'm concerned, he's a McDonald's All-American quality recruit and should be an instant impact guy for Chris Mack.

Evans: We can talk openly about the early struggles at Villanova but what it comes down to their lack of a go-to offensive threat during crunch time. The Wildcats are at their best not just when they have great guard play to go with a low post threat. Eric Paschall was expected to be that guy but his efficiency has suffered this year. That is why Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is just the guy that Villanova needs. Jay Wright isn’t the biggest advocate on relying heavily on freshmen but Robinson-Earl will force his hand. He is super polished, super mature and super versatile. He continues to expand his game and when we talk about fit, there is not a better one between prospect and college than Robinson-Earl and Villanova.

McDonald: Tre Williams of Wastach Academy in Utah is an absolute steal for Richard Pitino and Minnesota. His play at last month's Hoopsgiving event in Atlanta was an eye-opener for me. He's a play-maker, a shot maker, and a high level athlete at 6-foot-4. He should be a good one for the Gophers.

3. What event and potential matchup of top prospects are most looking forward to between now and the New Year?

Bossi: I'm making my annual trip to Las Vegas this week for the always loaded Tarkanian Classic. If things hold up in the brackets, it's looking like I may need to change my flight home from late Friday night to Saturday morning because I'm not going to miss it if 2019 star Jaden McDaniels and Federal Way (Wash.) High win their first couple of games and Temecula (Calif.) Rancho Christian does the same. The chance to see McDaniels (and four-star junior teammate Tari Eason) vs. five-star brothers Isaiah Mobley and Evan Mobley would be too much to pass up.

Evans: Last week, I was impressed by Dug McDaniel. The diminutive lead guard at Alexandria (Va.) Paul VI Catholic posted a double-double against five-star junior Jalen Johnson and wowed the crowd the night before against nationally ranked Montverde. Wise The freshman’s performance is the beginning of what is to come where I would not be surprised to see him break out nationally next week at the City of Palms. What better platform to do it at and better yet, if they can get past their first-round contest, going up against top-25 junior Sharife Cooper? It would have the makings of one of the more intriguing battles that could happen over the next few weeks. While Cooper has the age and experience, McDaniel has the pizzazz which should make this point guard battle the one that I am most looking forward before the New Year.

McDonald:The Tournament of Champions at Wheeler High School here in the Atlanta area has become a tradition for me in the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. This year's field is stacked once again. The event features some of the top teams in Georgia such as Wheeler, Pebblebrook, Southwest Dekalb and Holy Spirit Prep as well as some really talented out of state teams like Sacred Heart (Al.) John Marshall (Va.), Paul VI, and Oak Ridge (Fl.). The brackets haven't been released yet, but selfishly I'd love to see Holy Spirit matched up with Oak Ridge to see five-star shooting guard Anthony Edwards and five-star small forward C.J. Walker go at each other. The scoring, athleticism and entertainment value of that one would be ridiculous.