Starting Five: Summer changes coming?
It looks like change is going to be coming to the grassroots basketball scene as we currently know it. However, exactly what those changes will be and how soon they will happen is still to be determined. National Analyst Eric Bossi discusses what's out there regarding summer changes, reflects on the 2018 NBA Draft, takes a look at Purdue's newest commitment and more in his weekly Starting Five.
1. CHANGE IS COMING TO SUMMER BASKETBALL, BUT THERE ARE MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS.
Ever since the commission on college basketball recommended the NCAA change summer basketball, things have been brewing. Over the past few weeks, talks about exactly what can change in how a school watches a player like 2019's No. 1 prospect Vernon Carey Jr. this summer compared to the summer of 2019 have really heated up.
It's clear that the NCAA is trying to put together a plan and get it in front of the commission sometime after the summer ends and it sounds pretty clear that the focuses are eliminating the July evaluation periods, lessening the influence of shoe companies and getting the high school coach more involved in the recruiting process.
However, after spending my weekend speaking to coaches on all levels involved and many other grassroots sources, it doesn't sound to me that a very clear plan has been formulated and that the NCAA doesn't seem to be taking into account just how massive the rumored change could be and how many moving parts will be involved.
The mere thought of sweeping change has many up in arms and once we see an actual plan, they may be justified. But, I want to at least know for sure what the plan is before forming an opinion.
It sounds like the NCAA wants to end the three July live evaluation periods and replace them with some sort of NCAA-run system of evaluation camps in June, making it so that coaches could spend more times visiting players at their high schools or watching them play in state sanctioned summer events. Exactly where these camps would take place, how many players would be invited, how they would be staffed and financed and many other issues haven't yet been deeply looked into. Maybe schools bid to host them on their campuses, maybe USA Basketball gets involved, maybe there is a national camp. Will there be separate camps for players in separate classes? Nobody knows for sure at this point. There is only a very basic outline of an idea and then a lot of questions about how to make it all happen or if any proposed change is even feasible.
It's going to be incredibly expensive and if I think I get it bad sometimes from parents or coaches who are upset about their player's ranking, well, that's going to be child's play compared to what happens when the NCAA starts deeming which players are worthy of being looked at by coaches. Or what's going to happen if the NCAA really tries to partially freeze out shoe companies that pay their members millions of dollars? It's going to be ugly. Really ugly.
But, since there is no clear plan in place, I am going to stick to my word and at least wait to see what's put in place before making a final opinion. However, after nearly 20 years in the business, I'm a bit worried that perceived public pressure to clean up "AAU" has the NCAA rushing to action.
This isn't about making change just to make change, this is about making important and smart change. The current grassroots system and how potential college players get exposure is a complex system that needs to be looked at from every angle. It seems to me that it should take longer than just a couple of months to truly perform due diligence and get it right and I'm worried that this is going to be a rush job that will be scrapped shortly after being put into place.
2. RANKINGS AND THE 2018 NBA DRAFT
The 2018 NBA Draft as come and gone with Arizona's DeAndre Ayton going No. 1 overall to the Phoenix Suns. So, the question is, how did we do in the Draft when talking about high school rankings?
You know what, I think we did pretty well overall. There are always going to be guys that I wished we had ranked higher -- former five-star Trae Young who went No. 5 to Dallas before being traded to Atlanta comes to mind -- and there were some players like attempted one-and-done five-stars like Trevon Duval from Duke and power forward Billy Preston (who never played at Kansas) who went without getting selected that have to go down as misses until they catch on. But, a look at the numbers says we didn't do too badly.
In total, 50 players selected in this year's Draft played high school basketball in the States and were eligible to have been ranked in the Rivals150 coming out of high school. Twenty-seven of them went in the first round and 23 went in the second. Of the first-rounders, only Jerome Robinson (No. 13 to the Clippers) and Zhaire Smith (No. 16 to Phoenix and traded to Philadelphia) were not ranked in the Rivals150 in high school. Of the 25 first round picks that were ranked in the Rivals150 as high schoolers, 14 were five-stars, nine were four and two were ranked three-star prospects.
In the second round, 17 of 23 players -- five five, 10 four and two three-stars -- were ranked in the Rivals150. That's 42 of 50 (84%) total who were drafted that could have been ranked that were.
After 18 (16 of them five-stars) players were taken in the 2017 Draft only a year removed from high school, 17 (15 five-stars) were taken in 2018. Additionally, five-star Anfernee Simons was taken directly out of prep school making him the first class of 2018 prospect to be picked when he went No. 24 to Portland.
3. PURDUE STRIKES WITH RIVALS150 FORWARD IN 2019
Matt Painter and Purdue struck for the second time in 2019 on Sunday and for the second time they landed an in-state player when they got Rivals150 forward Mason Gillis to join three-star point guard Isaiah Thompson.
Though Gillis has missed time in the past months due to injury, he looks like another fine addition by the Boilers. He's a versatile combo forward type who is pretty good around the basket, is developing into a real threat from the perimeter and he looks like the kind of guy that they've had success playing alongside the gigantic centers and interchangeable guards they've been using.
That leaves two more spots to be filled and top 50 Malik Hall -- who like Gillis is another versatile combo forward -- top 50 big man Drew Timme and four-star shooting guard Brandon Newman look to be their biggest targets left on the board.
4. FOUR-STAR COLLUM DOWN TO SEVEN
At least one four-star prospect isn't waiting until after the summer to cut down his list. Memphis wing Antavion Collum, aka Dude, cut his list of schools down to seven over the weekend.
A wing with size who can handle the ball and create a bit or even be used as a small ball four man, Collum has nice upside on the college level.
Though Collum has cut his list down to seven, there hasn't yet been much word about if any of the programs left have separated themselves from the pack. That should start to show soon enough, though, when we see which coaching staffs prioritize making sure he sees them in July.
5. LOYOLA MAKES NICE PICKUP
Finally, I really like what Porter Moser and Loyola did in landing shooting guard Paxson Wojcik.
Coming off of their run to the Final Four, I'm impressed that Moser and the Ramblers are remaining true to what got them to where they are and Wojcik will end up being a tremendous player in Chicago.
When I watched Loyola make their run in March I was most impressed by their experience, their toughness, their execution, their timely shot making and their commitment to making their opponents play at their pace.
Wojcik reminds me a lot of the departed Ben Richardson but he's a little bigger and just a little bit better at most everything than Richardson was when he was getting ready for his senior year of high school right down the road from my house at Overland Park (Kans.) Blue Valley Northwest.