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Rivals Roundtable: Wake Forest hire; NCAA's NIL stance; 2020 ranks

This weekend in the Rivals Roundtable the analyst team of Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald is rating Wake Forest’s hiring of Steve Forbes. Also, is the NCAA on the right track and early thoughts on the final 2020 rankings.

MORE: McDonald on NCAA, Forbes and more

2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

2022 Rankings: Top 75

1. What do you think of the Steve Forbes hire at Wake Forest and rank the rebuilding job ahead on a 1-10 scale.

Steve Forbes
Steve Forbes (AP)

Bossi: I know that I ruffled some feathers with Wake Forest fans who wanted Danny Manning out earlier this week when I wrote that I thought the timing of his firing was bad. I still feel the timing is bad but, I’ve got nothing but great things to say about the hiring of Forbes. I’ve been in the basketball business for 20 years now and have been able to watch him climb the coaching rungs and he’s been a stud at every stop. He’s an A+ hire and if anybody can get it done in Winston-Salem, Forbes can.

He’s got some serious work ahead of him and I’d rank the rebuild a strong 8 on a scale of 1-10. He has a few legit ACC players in Isaiah Mucius, Olivier Sarr and Jahcobi Neath, but after that, it’s a bit of a guessing game and he has to hope he can Sarr and Neath out of the transfer portal. He’s inheriting a couple of grad transfers who he has to decide what he wants to do with and after a few 2020 high schoolers decommitted, saving what’s left of the class – in particular point guard Marcus Watson – is a must.

He’s not likely to get help from immediate transfers and there’s not much out there so he’s going to have to get creative. Moving forward, he’s a tenacious recruiter who won’t be afraid to go against the big boys, but identifying under-the-radar players from the talent rich state of North Carolina – like a Ky Bowman – and keeping them home will be key.

Evans: 9. Forbes is walking into a cupboard that is pretty empty, doing it at a time that the 2020 class is practically bare, and is attempting to harvest the proper relationships during the craziest of times thanks to COVID-19. This it also at a program that has only made it to one NCAA Tournament over the past decade and has been in the basement of an ACC that is as difficult as any other league.

I will say this though, if anyone can do it, it is Forbes. He has seemingly won and won big at every program that he has been a member of. He deploys a frenetic, hard-playing, high-energy approach that is not reliant on talent as much as others for success. Kids are going to want to play for Forbes and while the rebuild is steep, he will get it done one way or another in Winston-Salem. He will have the Deacons competing for an NCAA Tournament berth every season.

McDonald: I don’t think Wake Forest could have done better. As I hit on in my column yesterday, I always think it’s important from a recruiting perspective to hire a coach with previous high-major recruiting experience when hiring a mid-major head coach. Forbes did a terrific job recruiting as an assistant at Tennessee and Texas A&M, and was even signing high-major prospects as an assistant at Wichita State. And as a coach, he won 130 games in a pretty tough Southern Conference in five years. This is a great hire.


2. What looks good and bad regarding the NCAA's statement on moving towards allowing athletes to profit of name, image and likeness?

Bossi: I love that the NCAA is making this move forward. It’s been something they’ve been working to for a while, but I don’t doubt that the G League going after top high school players sped this process up. Overall, though, there’s simply not enough specifics to grade it, but it is a great first step.

My biggest concern is that it looks as if they will not be allowing schools to be involved the process of setting up deals and it looks like they will try to limit who players can set up NIL deals with. That is going to need to be cleaned up a bit or you are just asking for more folks that the NCAA would deem undesirable than ever getting involved. Overall, though, I like the direction they are headed.

Evans: I don’t want to speak too much on the matter because it seems that we are still pretty far away it being put into action. However, from what we have seen thus far, you have to like the fact that student-athletes can finally earn some type of income based upon their athletic abilities.

However, I just do not understand how they are going to police all of this and in a sense, keep agent involvement out of it.

How is someone like Duke signee Jeremy Roach, who six months ago, was worrying about who he was taking to the prom, going to have any sense of understanding of how much his appearance could earn? Policing the NIL is the next great barrier, especially during a time that will bring even greater landmines thanks to the ongoing pandemic.

McDonald: The good is that players will be able get some extra money in their pockets. It’s long overdue. The landmines are the restrictions they put in place, particularly about not being used in the recruiting process or to retain players. How in the world can it ever be determined if it was used for those purposes? And who determines that? The other big issue is how they determine market value. True market value is what somebody is willing to pay you, so I’m confused by that one.

3. Final 2020 rankings meetings are about to begin. What hill are you willing to die on?

Scottie Barnes
Scottie Barnes (Nick Lucero/

Bossi: I have been debating this for a while and we are probably too far down the road with it in the 2020 class, but we need to be more selective with giving out five-star status moving forward. We’ve gotten to a point where there is little difference between say Caleb Love at No. 18 and Lance Ware at No. 32 so we’ve been extending out the five-stars to show how close they are.

In the coming years, I’d like us to reel that in a bit. Getting more specific to the question, though, a few of the players that I feel we currently have too low that I’ll be advocating in the rankings process include Kentucky-bound big man Isaiah Jackson, South Florida signee Caleb Murphy, Iowa State-bound center Xavier Foster, future West Virginia big man Isaiah Cottrell and Cincinnati-bound Tari Eason. Eason in particular is coming off of a great senior season and is a massive steal for the Bearcats.

Evans: Man, I don’t have too many hot takes for the 2020 class any longer and by one look at the Rivals150, I feel that it is in, for the most part, the right order.

But ... Scottie Barnes is going to finish out as a top-five prospect in his class before all is said and done. I am tired about the talk about his shooting, or lack thereof. Barnes is the ultimate competitor and one of the most unique prospects in the game. Throw in the fact that he is headed to the ideal setting at Florida State and I find it difficult for him to fail in any sense.

Other notables include Tennessee’s Keon Johnson as a top-10 prospect, Ole Miss’s Matt Murrell as a deserving five-star, oh, and so is Duke’s Mark Williams, and I wouldn’t be surprised that in five years, we saw Illinois-bound Andre Curbelo lead one of the best college careers out of anyone from the outgoing 2020 class.

McDonald: Isaiah Jackson is the most underrated post player in the class. I honestly wouldn’t be too surprised if he ends up being the best post player in the class when all is said and done. I love how active he is to go along with his athleticism and skill level.