Three-Point Play: LaMelo Ball, UNC's roster and Texas A&M job
In today's Three-Point Play, Rivals’ national analyst Corey Evans gives an update on LaMelo Ball and where he might be off to next. Plus, how North Carolina’s current roster came to be and just how good of a job is Texas A&M.
1. With NCAA eligibility gone, what's next for LaMelo Ball?
For a five-star prospect nearing the end of his senior year, this is the time to celebrate accomplishments. Whether it is traveling to a number of acclaimed All-Star events, recruiting fellow elite prospects to come join them in college the next season or enjoying all of the praise afforded by their college fan base on various social media platforms, this is usually the good life. But none of those have been enjoyed by LaMelo Ball.
Over the weekend, fellow national analyst Eric Bossi caught a glimpse of the third Ball brother and by the sounds of it, Ball is a legitimate NBA prospect that might be even taller than his oldest brother, Lonzo. He does need skill refinement, but the talent is evident as there is more than just the flair seen on various mixtapes.
However, the chances of seeing him on a D-1 playing floor is as good as yours truly suiting up next season.
There are two avenues that have opened up for Ball, sources have told Rivals.com. The first would be for Ball to take a prep year next fall, which would make him eligible for the 2020 NBA Draft. He would be of the appropriate age a a full year removed from his high school graduation, similar to what unfolded last year with Anfernee Simons.
The other route is for Ball to graduate from high school and enter the new G-League initiative that would pay him up to $150,000 and be placed in the league’s October draft. After one season, he would be eligible for the 2020 draft.
It would seem that Ball might be leaning towards the former option, which would allow his always outgoing father, the infamous Lavar Ball, to control the narrative surrounding his youngest child.
2. North Carolina's path to the top
Much has been said about North Carolina’s recruiting woes of late and while their near misses on Josh Green, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Tre Mann might sting for a bit, Tar Heel fans should take solace in the work that Roy Williams and his staff have done in patching together its roster.
This is the same program that has made it to the NCAA final twice over the past three seasons and has the chance to return next month. While recruiting wins go a long way, there is more to it than just talent acquisition, a point Williams stated well on Saturday.
“You give me really good kids who will play really, really hard, we’re going to win some games,” Williams said.
The playing hard part is found up and down UNC’s roster, but it is also Williams’ ability to hold everyone accountable that makes the grittiness of its teams even more evident.
Luke Maye was a preferred walk-on until Brandon Ingram decided that Duke was where he was meant to be. Kenny Williams was the next to uphold the Havoc brand at VCU until Shaka Smart decided to bolt for Texas. Cam Johnson wasn’t even good enough to land a local Pitt offer until Easter Sunday of his senior year where he then preceded to get better and better until he found his dream school calling after a transfer. Even Garrison Brooks was committed to Mississippi State and was second fiddle on his travel teams.
Winning ball games is more than just who has the most five-star prospects on its roster but rather about finding the right pieces. Williams and his staff have done so precisely and while they may miss on Keion Brooks, Precious Achiuwa and Matthew Hurt, one must believe that UNC will remain one of the goliaths of the sport for years to come regardless of the amount of recruiting wins they accumulate against their fellow blue bloods.
3. How good of a job is Texas A&M?
The Houston Chronicle reported on Tuesday evening that Billy Kennedy will no longer be the head coach at Texas A&M at the conclusion of the season.
One of the more respected coaches nationally, Kennedy won 150 games and helped guide the Aggies to two of the past three Sweet 16s during his eight-year tenure. At the end of the day, it was not enough after a rather dismal season and already, the names of Buzz Williams, Chris Beard, and Kelvin Sampson have emerged as potential replacements.
Just how good of a job is this, though? For one, recruiting has never been difficult. They have seen such heavily touted prospects DJ Hogg, Admon Gilder, Robert Williams, Tyler Davis and Savion Flagg suit up for the Aggies in recent years and currently maintain a top-25 recruiting class this spring. It boasts a tremendous fan base, the wealthiest athletic department in America, a national entity, a selling point that it is the only SEC program found in Texas, and a prime locale for elite high school and junior college talent.
There is enough talent to push the program back into the NCAA Tournament next season and while it will not overtake Kentucky or Tennessee in the league’s pecking order immediately, with the right hire, it should be in position to go blow-for-blow with each and in doing so, consistently compete for an SEC title and low seed in the NCAA Tournament.