Three-Point Play: Elite recruits, Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball
The early signing period for college hoops begins on Wednesday, but is there any need for elite prospects to sign this week, or ever? In today’s Three-Point Play, National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi discusses that along with Zion mania and a certain lightning rod for discussion making his way back to the high school ranks.
1. NO NEED FOR ELITES TO SIGN EARLY (OR AT ALL)
The early signing period begins on Wednesday and unless they simply want to get it over with or have a place that they’ve truly wanted to go their entire life, I don’t see any reason that an elite prospect like current No. 1 Vernon Carey Jr. or No. 2 James Wiseman should sign early.
Actually, I don’t see any real need for a truly elite prospect to ever sign with a program. This year is really interesting to me in that almost all of the remaining 13 five-star prospects have taken the majority of their official visits and are having a similar “Maybe I’ll sign early” or “I won’t sign early but I’ll commit in late November or December,” discussion.
As much as I would like to plan out coverage of commitments and move on to the truly undecided prospects, I don’t think these guys should have any indecision about what to do. Just say "I’m deciding late, I’m not going to sign a National Letter of Intent (a scholarship agreement that binds the school to the player will do) and I’m going to focus on my senior year."
Whenever any of these guys decides that it’s time to pick where they want to make a pit stop on their way to the NBA, there will be no shortage of attractive options or coaches that will make room for them. Not every college-bound prospect can afford to do this, probably only the top 25 or maybe top 50. But for those who can, take the power, let it all play out in front of you and take your time.
2. ALL IN ON ZION MANIA
Whether or not ranking Duke freshman Zion Williamson No. 5 in the class of 2018 was too low, just right or too high (though that is highly doubtful). There will be plenty of time to go over that in the future. But, just a couple of games in, he’s clearly living up to, and exceeding, the considerable hype he arrived in Durham with as Zion Mania begins to sweep across the college landscape.
There will be a time to take a deep dive into his game, whether or not he can help win a title in Durham and how high he should be drafted. But, for now, I’m going to sit back and enjoy watching him play without getting caught up in a debate. There are a lot of other great players in college basketball, but there is only one Zion and I have a hard time believing that somebody could tell me with a straight face they enjoy basketball but don’t love watching the way he plays the game. He’s too much of a freak of nature, he has too much personality, he’s just too much fun to not enjoy.
So, count me as one of the many who is all in on Zion Mania.
3. GUESS WHO'S BACK?
A year ago, LaVar Ball pulled his youngest son LaMelo Ball out of Chino Hills (Calif.) High and sent him overseas with older brother LiAngelo Ball while eldest brother Lonzo Ball played his rookie season for the Lakers. But look who is back in the high school ranks.
Now, the youngest Ball has enrolled at Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio, where he will play alongside Michigan State-bound four-star guard Rocket Watts and 2020 five-star big man Isaiah Jackson among others. Formerly a five-star prospect committed to UCLA, Ball even went so far as to say that he’s considering playing college basketball and would be interested in playing a year at a place like Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State or North Carolina.
Without even getting into the litany of academic and amateur hurdles that would have to be cleared in order for something like that to even be possible, those type of programs would have to be interested in recruiting Ball. As of today, they aren’t and I’ll be kind of surprised if they are at any point this season. That’s totally fine.
The bottom line is this -- Ball is a lightning rod for discussion and has people going over the top in either their support or hatred of him. Personally, I see a guy who was one of the highest ranked kids in the class of 2019 before turning pro last year and if he wants to come back and play, then fine be me. He’s going to sell out gyms, he’s going to cause uproars and at the end of the day I don’t think he’s going to cause anybody any harm. So, I’ll just sit back and see how he looks on the floor and catch a few laughs over how angry he and his father can make people.