Three-Point Play: Auburn, Makur Maker, reclassification
Help me out here, because I just don’t get why people aren’t talking more about Auburn. The Tigers are fresh off of a Final Four, they are out to an undefeated start and of course Bruce Pearl is always somebody who can get people fired up – both good and bad. They are one of the most interesting teams in college basketball, yet we don’t hear much of anything about them.
I get it, the 12th ranked Tigers haven’t exactly played a murderer’s row of opponents yet. In fact, they aren’t scheduled to play a team currently ranked in the AP Top 25 until they host sixth-ranked Kentucky on Feb. 1. So, I can understand some skepticism based on their schedule. But, in going with the eye test, I see an awfully exciting team.
Senior guard Samir Doughty is playing tremendous and will enter SEC play as a legitimate candidate to win player of the year in the conference. Five-star freshman Isaac Okoro has been everything that he was touted to be and big man Austin Wiley is returning to form. The entire team plays hard, they have athletes and they play a fun style.
Auburn is also interesting to me because of who it is still involved with on the recruiting trail. Their current class of five-star point guard Sharife Cooper, four-star forward Chris Moore and three-star shooter Justin Powell ranks No. 17 nationally and No. 4 in the SEC, but it could potentially get a lot better. Five-stars like Jalen Green and Greg Brown are still very much in play and they are still very much in the mix for brawler four-star big man Cliff Omoruyi.
We’ll see what happens with them over the next few weeks, but if you are looking for a team who could be fun to follow that has been flying under the radar, I am pointing you in Auburn’s direction.
IT COULD BE A BIG WEEK FOR MAKUR MAKER
Top 10 prospect Makur Maker has been operating out of the spotlight for a while now and for many reasons.
The primary one is that he was ruled ineligible to play high school ball in California this year and because of that is playing prep school ball out West while seeing if he will qualify for the NBA Draft.
Beginning today with a matchup against the intriguing Kai Sotto, the skilled near seven-footer will participate with his team in the Tarkanian Classic out in Las Vegas. As it turns out, the NBA is also hosting their annual G League Showcase in Sin City this week meaning that every team in the League will be heavily represented in the desert. They would all like to see how Maker’s game could translate to the NBA next year and he’d surely like for them to be able to watch them.
I’ve spoken with some NBA executives and as of early Monday evening, they are waiting to hear back from the league office about whether or not they can go watch Maker play. If they can, this week could go an awful long way towards determining how highly he can get drafted (assuming he is ruled eligible) and it will be an important development to watch.
IS RECLASSIFICATION GETTING OUT OF HAND?
Pardon me if I go old man yells at the sky for being blue for a minute here. But, I didn’t think it was possible for me to come across a term being used in basketball that annoyed me more than "load management." As it turns out “reclassification” is getting close.
Sure, there have been some examples of it working out very well. Andre Drummond did it back in the day and is an NBA All-Star. R.J. Hampton did it and is getting paid pretty handsomely overseas while he prepares for the NBA Draft and in the college ranks, Anthony Edwards is doing quite well for Georgia as a freshman.
So, it’s not something that should be totally dismissed and it can work out. However, the only players who should be skipping a year of high school are those who are certified freaks and pretty much can’t-miss prospects. Heck, look at Kentucky as an example here. Ashton Hagans was a stud in high school, a legit five-star but he struggled as a freshman because he missed that year of development. Not surprisingly, he’s coming on this year as his game has caught up. Meanwhile, freshman teammate Johnny Juzang who skipped his senior year, is struggling.
I’m not here to tell anybody how they should manage their careers and futures, that’s not my job. However, something that used to be really rare and that was usually reserved for players like a Wayne Selden, whose reclassification was actually just skipping a planned year of prep school. Now, I’m seeing way too many players who have a long way to go to be impact players in the class that they are currently in, talking about moving up a class and I just don’t see the good in rushing things.
While I might not like it, the reclassification rage doesn’t look like it is going away anytime soon. We’ll also continue to report on it because kids will continue to consider it and it is news. However, I just hope players and those around them are really doing their research into whether it would be a beneficial move for them before tossing the idea out there for the masses.