Rivals Roundtable: Top talent-producing regions
Rivals.com's Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Krysten Peek give their thoughts on underrated and overrated talent-producing regions of the United States in this roundtable discussion.
1. What city's metro area do you think produces the best basketball players?
BOSSI: If you look at things by the numbers it is hard to go with anywhere other than Los Angeles/Southern California at the moment. Between 2013 and 2017, the SoCal area produced 21 prospects ranked in the top 50, and it is home to the No. 1 player in the class of 2018, Marvin Bagley III. Also, if you look at the current landscape of the NBA, the league is littered with high-end players from Southern California (or very close to it) such as Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, just to name a few.
EVANS: There are several hotbeds throughout the United States, but no area has been better for premier talent than the DMV. Boasting several of the top shoe company-sponsored programs and a region that has become the go-to for practically every power conference, the DMV is home to some of the best college stars and future NBA pros. Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony grew up within the DMV, as did soon-to-be-first overall NBA Draft pick Markelle Fultz.
PEEK: This might be a little biased since I live in Los Angeles, but there is no shortage of talent in Southern California. When looking at some of the top talent in the NBA, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Russell Westbrook and Demar DeRozan are all from the area. Right now, at any point during the high school season you can get a guaranteed high-level matchup. In the 2018 class there's the No. 1 player in the country, Marvin Bagley, five-stars Bol Bol, Shareef O'Neal and Miles Norris, and top 50 players Taeshon Cherry, Brandon Williams and Jules Bernard. When we look at the 2019 class there's five-stars Cassius Stanley, LaMelo Ball and Onyeka Okongwu.
2. What city (metro area) is vastly underrated for producing good basketball players?
BOSSI: I will go with Minneapolis here. Between Minneapolis and St. Paul, it's a top-15 population metro area. But when we think basketball cities, nobody really talks Minneapolis. Of late the area has produced Tyus Jones and Rashad Vaughn, and Gary Trent Jr. is going to be leaned on heavily at Duke as a freshman. In 2018, Jones' younger brother, Tre Jones, is the favorite to be the highest-ranked point guard in the class when we update our rankings. Baltimore/Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Memphis probably don't get the credit they deserve for producing talent, but at least they are considered basketball cities.
EVANS: Orlando isn’t just the home to Mickey Mouse. It's home to some of the better college players and a few NBA stars. Accordingly, the city needs to become more of a focal point for programs up and down the East Coast. Austin Rivers, Amare Stoudemire and Chandler Parsons call Orlando home, as does top-30 Wake Forest commit Chaundee Brown.
PEEK: I'm going to say Seattle. The Northwest is a sneaky good place for basketball talent. Obviously there's been a little more attention lately, with 2017 No. 1 player Michael Porter Jr. finishing his high school career at Nathan Hale. Established NBA standouts Jamal Crawford and Jason Terry are also from the Seattle area, as are former Louisville point guard Peyton Siva and former Louisville small forward Terrence Williams.
3. What major city should be producing more top-level basketball players than it does?
BOSSI: It's time for Chicago to step its game back up. You still have guys such as Anthony Davis, Derrick Rose and Jabari Parker (when healthy) among others in the pros, but things have been a little dry on the prep level. Both the classes of 2016 and 2017 were without a player ranked in the top 50 nationally. The 2018 class only has point guard Ayo Dosunmu, who is angling for a raise to five-star status, in the top 50, while 2019 is currently without a national top-50 prospect. There are too many good-to-great high school and summer programs, too much tradition and too much talent base for Chicago to not be producing more highly ranked high school talent.
EVANS: Not to be partial here, but Pittsburgh has become atrocious for producing elite basketball talent. It was less than 10 years ago that the Pittsburgh Jots, a travel team that consisted of DeJuan Blair, DeAndre Kane, Jon Baldwin, Herb Pope and D.J. Kennedy, took the nation by storm. Ever since, Pittsburgh has failed to consistently develop high-level prospects. Sure, T.J. McConnell, Cam Johnson and Mike Young grew up there, but the fact that the entire region developed just four Division I prospects during the 2017 recruiting cycle brings cause for concern.
PEEK: Miami and the surrounding areas produce very few top recruits, and that is pretty surprising. It's a major metropolitan city, yet there's only a been a handful of top recruits to come out of the South Florida region in the past five years. Joel James (North Carolina), Dewan Huell (Miami) and Trent Frazier (Illinois) are all from South Florida. Elsewhere in the Sunshine State, Orlando and its surrounding areas produce a consistent amount of top talent, and there are two elite private schools in Florida that attract top talent, Montverde Academy and IMG Academy. Notable players to come out those two schools include Ben Simmons, Trevon Duval and RJ Barrett.