The Deep Three: Who's cruisin', dreamin', hurtin' after August?
In this month's Deep Three, we wrap up August look ahead to September in front of us in three categories: Three cruisin', three wishin' and three hurtin'.
John Calipari did it again in August as he kick-started things with the commitment of Dontaie Allen and bolstered his 2019 class further with the addition of five-star Kahlil Whitney. With those two prospects in tow, Kentucky now has one of the better isolation scorers and shot-makers in the 2019 class in Allen, and arguably the biggest alpha dog of them all with Whitney. To top it all off, the Wildcats looked amazing during their international tour.
While all eyes were on Nick Saban and his football program as they geared up for another potential return to the College Football Playoff, Avery Johnson was causing his own little ruckus. The Crimson Tide kicked things off with the commitment of Rivals150 wing Jaylen Forbes, an underrated wing that can score, defend, rebound and pass. While Forbes’ commitment was great, it was topped by the pledge of former top-30 guard Kira Lewis who decided to not just commit to the SEC program but also enroll this fall.
While the Musketeers were stung some by the decommitment of Rivals150 wing Elias King, they had already won the month thanks to the commitments of three frontcourt prospects. First, it was Daniel Ramsey, a Rivals150 big man that had accrued over 20 high-major offers to pledge to the program. Zach Freemantle followed next, a product out of New Jersey that should be a four-year contributor in Cincinnati. Lastly, one of the better upside prospects found in the Midwest, Dieonte Miles addressed Xavier’s needs along its frontline. Put it all together and Xavier enters September fresh off of a strong month of August that should pay off in a major way over the next few years.
The Cardinals enter the month of September with hopes of adding greatly to its 2019 class. While its in-state rivals down in Lexington won the most recent month, Chris Mack has the chance to do just the same over the next 30 days thanks to the in-roads that the Cardinals have made within the rising senior class. David Johnson, a commit to the former staff, could ultimately decide to remain home and play for the Cardinals. Keep an eye on Aidan Igiehon and Rocket Watts, too, and while neither top-50 prospect might commit in September, the Cards have picked up major ground and momentum with both. Several others are expected to visit the Louisville campus over the next four weeks including Jae'lyn Withers. It would not be a surprise to see Mack’s bunch leave September with three Rivals150 commitments in hand.
Oklahoma will have a monstrous month of September, hosting eight members of the Rivals150 on official visits, along with a handful of others that could boost the Sooners’ brand. While there is no sure-fire commitments expected for OU, the chances of Oklahoma leaving the month of September without adding to its class is small. A group consisting of Malik Hall, Samuell Williamson, KyKy Tandy, Victor Iwuakor, Tyreek Smith, Jalen Hill, Christian Braun and Tyson Etienne are expected to be on the Norman campus in September.
Tre Mann's commitment could be the tip of the iceberg for what is to come over the next 30 days. Scottie Lewis, a five-star wing from New Jersey, and Omar Payne, a local product and top-50 center, will head to Gainesville. Florida and Kentucky are the most talked about with Lewis and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Lewis come off of the board in September in favor of the Gators. Payne might be more willing to wait things out some but Florida has found great traction with him. A visit is in the works for C.J. Walker, too, one of the top breakout performers from July who played alongside Mann on the travel circuit. While his commitment might be a month or two away, the Gators sit among the favorites of which would only bolster their chances of a nationally ranked class.
1. THE VALUE OF A COMMITMENT
According to Marian-Webster, the definition of the term ‘commitment’ is an agreement or pledge to do something in the future. That agreement was broken a handful of times by members of the Rivals150 this summer and while I have no issues with a prospect not going through with something that they are not 100 percent behind, I also worry about basketball recruiting trending toward the status quo with college football recruiting. In July, Kentucky lost the commitment of top-50 prospect; August brought more decommitments at programs such as Mississippi State, Georgia, Xavier and DePaul. With the new rules now in place that allow for a prospect to take up to 15 official visits, this should bring an even greater education level for what a specific program can offer. Hopefully, this enables for the recruiting process to play out for the better and that the decommitment trend be squelched before it can get off of the ground.
2. RICE COMMISSION
Well, that didn’t go as planned. The Rice Commission, formed in reaction to the FBI investigation into the sport, was supposed to be a council that would bring positive change to the sport of college basketball. While it will take a year or two for everything to go into full effect, the immediate responses have not the most positive. The disorganization of it and the lack of communication is compelling, to say the least, that such a ginormous change to the game would be made so quickly and with such little thought for their long-term impact.
3. POINT GUARD NEEDY TEAMS
The month of August swept away some of the top lead guard prospects in the 2019 class off of the board; not good for those in need of a floor general this fall seeing that this might be the most depleted group for top-end point guard prospects in recent time. The biggest domino to fall off of the board was Tre Mann, but Houston and Oregon State struck early in the Rivals150 with a point guard target and while not as highly rated, Grand Canyon, Missouri State and Rider picked up commitments from those that could have seen their stock soar if they remained open to the recruiting process this fall. What this means is that the attention given to such others as Cole Anthony, Josiah James, Boogie Ellis, Rocket Watts and Nico Mannion will only intensify further. What would programs such as Kansas, Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina, Arizona, Villanova or Oregon do if they strike out on such targets? Not just one name-brand program will be left out in the dark this year which should make for an interesting fall.