{{ timeAgo('2019-10-01 07:03:41 -0500') }} basketball Edit

Three-Point Play: Cole Anthony, Isaiah Jackson, Tamar Bates

Practice for the 2019-20 college season is in full swing and one freshman stands out as the most important in America. Five-star Isaiah Jackson is down to three and a Midwestern guard has been busy, writes Eric Bossi in today’s edition of the Three-Point-Play.

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2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

1. UNC’S ANTHONY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FRESHMAN IN AMERICA

Cole Anthony
Cole Anthony (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

College basketball is here and while real, meaningful, games are still a little over a month away, my mind has been in overdrive thinking about the season. As I always do, I think an awful lot about the incoming freshman because I just finished three or four years of covering their recruitments. The last couple of days, I’ve really been focused on which freshman is most important.

The answer is North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony.

Look, the Heels don’t have a lot of available ball handlers and for this season and they threw everything they had into making sure they landed Anthony to run Roy Williams’ program. Now that he’s in Chapel Hill, I just don’t see any freshman who will have more responsibility or be more relied upon to produce.

Sure, James Wiseman has the hopes of Memphis riding on his shoulders, but he has several other big-time freshmen to spread it around and is a pretty even keeled kid. Anthony Edwards will be handed the keys at Georgia and countless others will be counted on. But, I just don’t see any freshman more important to a team’s success than Anthony is to that of the Tar Heels.

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2. FIVE-STAR JACKSON DOWN TO THREE

Isaiah Jackson
Isaiah Jackson (https://rivals.com)

It had been looking like things were coming down to Alabama, Kentucky and Syracuse for five-star senior Isaiah Jackson.

On Monday, he made it official announcing those three as his finalists. This is on the heels of a weekend official visit to see Jim Boeheim and the Orange. He has also been to Kentucky and is scheduled to see Alabama at the end of October.

When it comes to long-term potential in comparison to ranking, Jackson has as much upside as any player in America. He’s a shot-blocking machine, a freak athlete, can run and has a great motor. He lacks strength and is still in need of more offensive polish and the way I see it, he’s still trying to make up for a junior year that was essentially wasted. Jackson played plenty hard and put in effort, but playing at Spire Institute with LaMelo Ball in a circus like atmosphere everywhere they went, Jackson was never given responsibility other than to run and catch lobs. He excelled in that role, but he has way more to offer.

So where do I see him landing? As of today, I’ll go ahead and give the edge to Kentucky over Alabama in a tight battle. The Wildcats are looking for a big class and he would certainly fit. Of course, he’d be really good anywhere across the bottom of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone and Nate Oats should bring a free-wheeling, up-and-down, style that Jackson’s speed from rim to rim could be very well utilized in.

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3. RIVALS15O JUNIOR BECOMING A MIDWEST PRIORITY

Rivals150 junior guard Tamar Bates of Kansas City (Kan.) Piper is fast becoming one of the most heavily recruited guards in the Midwest after a strong summer with KC Run GMC’s 16U team.

A tough and aggressive guard who can get buckets off the dribble, “Scoop” currently holds offers from Abilene Christian, Creighton, Kansas State, Missouri State, Saint Louis and Wichita State.

He has been pretty proactive in the process as well. Since late August, he’s seen Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma State. This weekend he will check out Kansas for their Late Night event and he's got plans to see Creighton later in the month.

Colorado, Creighton, Kansas State, Missouri, Missouri State, Oklahoma State, Wake Forest and Wichita State have all been in to see him this fall and I would look for him to pick up more interest and offers in the near future as he looks to be well on his way to becoming a regional priority.