Three-Point Play: Declining elite offers, who's next, 2020 class
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Rivals.com recruiting analyst Corey Evans' Three-Point Play is here with a look at a growing trend of elite prospects choosing non-traditional powers over blue blood offers.
1. PASSING ON HOOPS' RULING CLASS
What is up with all of the five-star talent passing on some of the most elite programs in the nation? We have already seen a handful of Rivals150 prospects committing to programs that are not traditionally viewed as the very top of the food chain, with Scottie Lewis (Florida), Josiah James (Tennessee), Bryan Antoine (Villanova) and Antony Harris (Virginia Tech) being the most recent examples from the 2019 class.
We've seen similar situations in the past, but most of the time, those prospects opted for a local program - Malik Newman and Mississippi State, Darius Garland and Vanderbilt, Ayo Dosunmu and Illinois and Trae Young with Oklahoma. That's not the case with this 2019 crop, however, as Lewis picked Florida over Kentucky, while James, Antoine and Harris selected Tennessee, Villanova and Virginia Tech, respectively, over Duke. Is this just a random blip on the radar or is there more to come?
I tend to think that there is more to come. While Duke and Kentucky have proven to be the best at attracting elite talent, developing it and then ushering it off to the NBA, other competing programs have caught up when it comes to facilities, national exposure, and, most of all, we are in a day and age where high school prospects are as smart as they ever have been.
These prospects are not being swayed by the glitz and glamour but are instead aware of what their options bring to the table. Where, in the past, someone like Anthony Harris would jump at the chance to play for Duke, he decided to remain loyal to Virginia Tech, a program that had invested over two years in recruiting him. Harris saw that he had a much better chance of not just getting onto the floor in Blacksburg, but also becoming a face of the program type under Buzz Williams’ watch.
What you have is the start to a changing dynamic in college basketball recruiting that could, potentially, lead to a wide-open national title race enhanced by non-traditional powers.
2. WHO MIGHT BE NEXT?
Since we already have Antoine, Lewis, James and Harris as prime examples of this recent trend, is there a chance that others could follow suit in the 2019 class? If so, these prospects are likeliest to do just that.
Isaiah Stewart: Arguably the most productive player in America, Stewart is down to a final six of Duke, Michigan State, Syracuse, Indiana, Washington and Villanova. Throw in Kentucky, a program that has offered and just hosted the five-star for an official visit last month, and Stewart is not short of elite suitors.
However, he is of a different mold and while it would not surprise to see him pick Duke, Kentucky or Michigan State, he could decide that Washington is in his best interests and pick the Huskies.
James Wiseman: If you are a recruiting head and don’t live under a rock, by now, you should know the Wiseman situation. John Calipari targeted Wiseman super early in the process and, for a long time, it would have been seen as a giant upset if Kentucky didn't land him. That sentiment changed drastically earlier this year when Memphis hired Penny Hardaway, who was Wiseman's coach in high school and in travel ball. Now the Tigers are not just a contender for his commitment but maybe the slight favorite. Florida State, Vanderbilt and Kansas are involved, too, but Wiseman could be the next to pass on one of the sport's traditional powers.
Jaden McDaniels: McDaniels' recruitment is a perplexing one as it's difficult to get sort of concrete and accurate information out of him or his support group. He did make news a few weeks ago by narrowing his school list to San Diego State, Texas, UCLA, Washington and Kentucky. A top-five prospect choosing the Bruins, Longhorns or Wildcats wouldn't be much of a surprise. If he chose San Diego State, where his brother plays, or Washington, a lot of eyebrows would be raised across the country. McDaniels has followed his own beat throughout the entire process and it would not surprise me if he opted for the Huskies or the Aztecs.
3. COULD THE 2020 CLASS BRING EVEN MORE
If the 2019 class is indeed a turning point for prospects choosing their own path to stardom, these coveted prospects could continue the trend in the 2020 class.
Evan Mobley: This one is a bit too easy as Mobley’s brother, Isaiah, has already committed to USC and, to top it all off, his father is currently an assistant for the Trojans. It would be more of a surprise if Mobley didn't attend USC than it would be if he did.
Anthony Edwards: Edwards, one of the best scorers in high school basketball, is leading a very radio-silent recruitment. Florida State has been the greatest presence with him dating back to his freshman year and nothing has changed since then. Kansas has become a greater factor as have a number of SEC programs, but he could ultimately decline the blue blood path and opt for a contending power conference program.
Scottie Barnes: Barnes is far more focused on the game of basketball and competing than the recruiting process, so his recruitment is a long way from being put to bed. Kentucky offered Barnes a few months ago and, thanks to his play alongside top-ranked Vernon Carey on the high school and travel circuits, coaches from Duke and North Carolina have kept close tabs.
However, Barnes’ dream school growing up was Oregon and the in-state powers, Florida, Florida State and Miami have all invested a lot of time in recruiting him. Barnes could land at a place like Durham, Chapel Hill or Lexington, or instead choose to stay inside the Sunshine State.