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Rivals Roundtable: Zeke Nnaji, Champions Classic, West prospects

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MORE: Where the top-seven uncommitted 2019 prospects stand?

The national basketball analysts are back with their weekly roundtable. This weekend, Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald discuss Zeke Nnaji’s late edition, hangover from the Champions Classic and the West Coast.


1. How should the schools that make up Zeke Nnaji's final five - Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, Purdue and UCLA - be feeling now that North Carolina was able to get in for an in home visit and secure an unofficial visit after he took all of his official visits?

Zeke Nnaji
Zeke Nnaji (Nick Lucero/

Bossi: There’s no doubt in my mind that the original five finalists are concerned. In fact I bet many are feeling something much stronger than concern. But, this is big-time recruiting and these are the types of things that you have to deal with because a program like North Carolina is one of the few with the brand to jump in late like this. If I’m at any of those other programs, I’m making sure to hammer away at relationships that have been established over time.

Evans: A bit of worry and rightfully so. Nnaji was on the precipice of a decision, focused on a group of five and out of nowhere, North Carolina enters the picture at the last minute and not only offers him, but also gets a visit. Better yet, it is an unofficial visit which just shows how serious he has to be about the program that he is willing to go across the nation on his own dime and see what he Tar Heels can offer just days before committing. Now, Nnaji is not a prospect that is going to be wooed by the name of a school, as evidenced by Kentucky not even making his final list.

Do I think that this is a done deal for North Carolina? No, but of course that could change in the days ahead which could force his other finalists to reconfigure their recruiting board and find alternative options this winter.

McDonald: Nnaji visiting North Carolina has to be concerning for the other schools involved. Most coaches get nervous to begin with when a kid visits and doesn't commit shortly after. Add to that a school like North Carolina coming in and getting an unofficial visit, which obviously means out of his family's pocket, I can't imagine the other schools aren't starting to look at other options at his spot.

2. You've had a few days for what happened at Champions Classic to sink in. What still stands out to you from Duke-Kentucky and Kansas-Michigan State?

RJ Barrett
RJ Barrett (AP Images)

Bossi: I was really worried about Duke’s lack of interior game and while RJ Barrett, Cameron Reddish and Zion Williamson were awesome, people have largely overlooked the flawless floor game played by point guard Tre Jones. In my eyes, he remains the key. Kansas looked outstanding and its freshman backcourt of Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson is legit while Dedric Lawson was as advertised. Finally, I think Michigan State is going to be a lot of fun to watch because the Spartans are set up to bomb away from deep.

Evans: Not much stands out about the Kansas and Michigan State game. We knew how good Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson were dating back to their time on the prep circuit. So it was just how lethargic portions of the Kentucky squad looked. On that big of a stage and having the chance to showcase just how good they were knowing that all eyes were on them, including a heavy contingent of NBA personnel thanks to the ensemble of Duke standouts including RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cameron Reddish? That was crazy to me.

We kept waiting for Kentucky to respond and all that happened was body blow after body blow by the Blue Devils before the knockout punch that was Williamson’s violence on the rim. John Calipari will get the ship righted but he needs to get the point guard spot solidified.

McDonald: I still think Kentucky will be really good before long. I think the Wildcats will win the SEC and will have a shot at making it back to the Final Four. I wouldn't even be surprised if they win the whole thing because I still like their pieces. Let's not jump off the bandwagon too quickly here.

3. Let's shift the attention out West a little bit. Name a West Coast prospect from either the 2019 or 2020 class and a West Coast college program that should be getting more national buzz. Why?

Rylan Jones
Rylan Jones

Bossi: I can’t say enough about 2020 point guard Daishen Nix. We’ve already got him ranked as a top-five point guard in his class and I could easily argue him being among the top three. His recruitment is taking off for good reason. As for teams, I’ve discussed my affinity for Stanford’s young talent and what Washington is doing in recent articles so I’m not sure I want to go there. So, how about Colorado? McKinley Wright is a total stud at the point guard and that young nucleus around him is eventually going to cause some damage. Again, the Pac-12 just seems wide-open to me.

Evans: While much of the talk has surrounded the 2019 class thanks to the early signing period being just days away, there is a reason why Ziaire Williams is a five-star prospect in 2020. He is already leading a national, blueblood recruitment as he has taken an official visit to North Carolina and is a priority for the best out west including Arizona, Stanford, UCLA and USC. A 6-foot-8 long, agile and skilled wing that can play up to four positions on the offensive end? In today’s game? Sign me up.

A West Coast program on my mind is Washington. What Mike Hopkins did in his first year as a head coach was impressive. The Huskies enter the new season in contention for a Pac-12 title, hold two commitments in the 2019 class and are likely in the top two for top-five seniors Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels. A storm could be brewing in the Pacific Northwest.

McDonald: I only saw him play once during travel season, but I loved what I saw out of Utah commit Rylan Jones. I love his ability to score and make plays. Jones and the Utes are a perfect match. The program I'm intrigued by is Washington. I like the two commitments they have in the fold already and they are still in play for a pair of five-stars in Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart. I've long been a big fan of Mike Hopkins as a coach and think he's got the chops to recruit at a high level for the Huskies. Locking down just one of those five-stars, and I realize both will be tough, would be a great sign for the future of Washington's program.