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Rivals Roundtable: Travel ball's return; 2021, 2022 rankings updates

This week in the Rivals Roundtable, analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald discuss how they would try to salvage opportunities for high school prospects to get seen by college coaches in the late summer or early fall. Also, a look ahead to 2021 and 2022 rankings updates.

MORE: Can top teams repeat recruiting success in 2021? | NBA's return, Mac McClung

2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

2022 Rankings: Top 75


1. What would you propose to make up for the lack of summer recruiting events?

Bossi: Obviously, the most important matter is the safety of players, coaches, family and anybody else involved. In a perfect world I would like to see three weekends. On the first weekend -- say in mid-August -- let shoe companies and anybody else interested in running events run traditional tournaments, but I would enforce a round robin format at all events so everybody gets equal chance to play. On the second weekend, divide the country up into four or five regions and have grassroots teams play in events in their regions over the Labor Day weekend. For the third weekend, use the Columbus Day weekend in October and have teams play in events with their high school teams. It allows for everybody to get equal opportunity to be seen and for coaches to evaluate in multiple settings.

Evans: Just scrap the travel season completely. There are currently rules in place for how often a specific prospect can be seen by a respective coaching staff and how much coaches can be out on the road during the high school calendar year. Scrap that too. Let it go back to how it was 20 years ago and let all high school practices, open gyms, fall leagues and fall festivals be open for evaluation.

Sure, that will not appease the travel coaches and event organizers, and for the college coaches that were not with their players the entire summer, they might not like the thought of having to be away from them again in the fall. However, if evaluating the 2021 and younger classes is as important as many believe, this would fill some of the void that was presented with the many live period events that were canceled this spring and summer.

McDonald: I'd try to add two weekends in August for live periods. This works for a few reasons. It's early in the school year for prospects around the country, so it doesn't mess with their academics too much. It gives prospects and their teams a chance to get some practice in during July as most states around the country start to open up over the next month or so. And lastly, it doesn't conflict with college football season, which can be big visit weekends for schools all over the country. Ideally, I'd like to see August 14-16 and August 28-30 as the two live periods.

2. The 2021 rankings will be updated next week. Who do you have your eye on?

Hunter Sallis
Hunter Sallis (

Bossi: Two players stand out to me here. I will continue to beat the Hunter Sallis drum and then there’s big man Lawson Lovering. Already a five-star, I still feel that Sallis could emerge as the top lead guard in the class of 2021 before it’s all said and done. His size, skill and rapid improvement all stand out to me. Creighton and Nebraska would dearly love to keep him in state, he’s been to Gonzaga officially, North Carolina recently offered and so have Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Louisville, Memphis, Oregon, Tennessee and many others.

As for Lovering, the seven-footer is committed to Colorado and currently ranked outside of the Rivals150. That will definitely change next week and it’s my belief that Tad Boyle and his staff stole one. He can shoot, he plays mean and he’s just scratching at his potential. He’s one I feel we should be very aggressive with when it comes to ranking.

Evans: I am a big believer in Jahmai Mashack, so I am pretty excited to see us give him another bump in the rankings that will be revealed later next week. What is crazy is that it will be now two consecutive Julys that he will not have played on the travel circuit; this year because of the pandemic and last year because of a broken foot. That has not stopped his recruitment from soaring in recent weeks in which he has received offers from Arizona, Colorado, Louisville, Oklahoma and Texas, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more was on the way.

The bloodlines are all there – both of his parents and older brother were Division 1 athletes. Mashack also has youth on his side as he won’t turn 17 until November and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how good he may be.

McDonald: I'd have to go with D'Marco Dunn here. I first started hearing about him back in January or February and had some game tape sent to me from multiple people and he jumps out pretty quickly. He's one of the best shooters I've seen in the class and is just a natural scorer. North Carolina came in and offered recently and Arizona is now involved. Clemson, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Xavier, and several others have also offered.

3. Who has your attention in 2022, whose rankings will also be updated next week?

Bossi: As we’ve worked to update 2022, we’ve not come across many big changes that need to be made and it’s been more of a process of adding players into the ranking of what we feel has the potential to be a tremendous class. I do like Texas shooting guard Rylan Griffen, who currently ranks No. 53 nationally to make a jump and he’s scored recent offers from Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State among others due to his size, athleticism and scoring.

Currently sitting outside of the top 75, I like Seattle (Wash.) Garfield point guard Koren Johnson. His toughness and outside shooting were instrumental in a state title run and he’s got lots of room to mature physically. After watching him during his State Championship run, hometown Washington was the first high major to offer a scholarship.

Evans: I mean, beside Emoni Bates? I would say instead of who has my attention, it was more of who I was most looking forward to seeing this spring and summer as far as how much better they may have gotten. We were the first to take the leap on Keyonte George, so was he going to repay us by playing up to the part of a top-10 prospect? How good is Caleb Houstan, really? He has oftentimes been in the shadows thanks to playing alongside a bevy of premier, older talent at Montverde; it was his time to shine on the travel circuit.

The same could have been said for Brandon Huntley-Hatfield and Jarace Walker, who teamed up at IMG Academy, and Amari Bailey at Sierra Canyon. The 2022 class is a very promising one, especially when compared to the 2021 class, which is why I was super intrigued by the five-star talent and the progression track that they could be on but we might not know how much they may have improved until the fall.

McDonald: Late in the high school season this year, I went over to watch Berkmar High School play here in Atlanta and came away really impressed with Malique Ewin, a 6-foot-10 big man in the 2022 class. He has a big frame but still room to put on plenty of good weight. He's long, athletic, has strong hands and soft touch finishing around the rim. He makes shots from the perimeter and throws a Kevin Love-caliber outlet pass. Georgia Tech offered him early and I expect that list to grow during his junior season.