Three-Point Play: P.J. Washington, Michigan State, Caleb Grill
BOSSI'S STARTING FIVE: The recruiting wins for each Final Four team
Today in the Three-Point-Play, Rivals.com basketball analyst Eric Bossi discusses why the current crop of Kentucky freshmen would be wise to study the roadmap P.J. Washington has given them when it comes to the NBA. Also, one program that any player serious about playing in the Final Four needs to be looking at and an on-the-market shooting guard from Kansas who could help a high major as a spring signee.
1. P.J. WASHINGTON HAS GIVEN CURRENT UK FRESHMEN A ROADMAP
I’ve never been really big on telling another person what I think they should do and I’ve always been on the side of “If the money is there, take it” when it comes to leaving early for the NBA Draft. But, in the case of the current class of freshmen at Kentucky, I think they would all be well-served to take a long hard look at the decision P.J. Washington made last year and to really investigate it.
Like most five-star prospects, Washington envisioned himself as a one-and-done player but after making himself available for the draft and going through the process, he made the wise decision to return to Kentucky for his sophomore season. He’s greatly enhanced his draft status and the likelihood of him having a long NBA career.
Look I understand, it seems as some guys go to Kentucky just so they can leave. It’s the program that John Calipari has built and despite what some might try to tell you, it’s been pretty beneficial for all involved. That being said, this year’s UK freshmen are different. The 2019 draft should be the last thing on the minds of either Ashton Hagans or Immanuel Quickley and in the cases of Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro I’m not convinced their draft prospects are going to be any better than they were for Washington this time a year ago. Johnson has to improve his perimeter skill and Herro is an average, at best, perimeter defender labeled as a “shooter” who only made 35.5 percent from three on the year – including just 9-of-35 during nine games in the month of March.
Do Herro and Johnson get picked if they enter and remain in the draft? Sure and perhaps fairly high if they work out well and have good Combine showings. I’m just saying, they would be well-served to keep a connection to Lexington and be willing to take a long look in the mirror and return to school because Washington has proven that there can be great benefit to playing a sophomore season and working on deficiencies. It might delay money for a year, but added years onto the end of a career would be worth it.
2. WANT TO GO TO A FINAL FOUR? GO TO MICHIGAN STATE
If you are a high school prospect looking to be guaranteed a bunch of shots and minutes the moment you step on campus or you consider college a pit-stop before the NBA, Michigan State may not be the place for you. But, if you are serious about competing for conference titles, getting developed and being virtually assured of playing in the Final Four at some point during your four-year career while preparing for a run at the NBA, then how could you say no to Tom Izzo and Michigan State at this point?
The numbers are pretty indisputable here. Thanks to Sunday’s win over Duke, Izzo has now taken the Spartans to an incredible eight Final Fours since taking over in East Lansing. In fact, only one class under Izzo’s direction has failed to make a Final Four at some point during its four years. That 2010 class headlined by Adreian Payne and Keith Appling? They may not have made a Final Four but they went to an Elite Eight, two Sweet 16s and won two Big Ten Tournaments and one regular season title. Think about that, that was Izzo’s “underperforming” class if you want to call it that.
Bottom line, Izzo is a Hall of Fame coach who is a standard of consistency and success in the college game. There are obviously other programs that have won a few more titles and bluebloods like Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina are always going to put players in a position to play for the Final Four. But, Michigan State should be considered on the same level as those programs at this point.
3. GRILL COULD BE A DESIRABLE NAME LATE
The name Caleb Grill isn’t one that many recruiting fans are overly familiar with. But, he could be one of the most attractive prospects who has become available during the 2019 college coaching carousel and he’s somebody worth getting more familiar with.
A 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Maize (Kan.) High, Grill signed in the fall with South Dakota State despite higher level offers from the likes of Texas Tech and Nebraska. Now that head coach T.J. Otzelberger has left for UNLV, Grill has opened things up and could be open to looking around.
Yes, South Dakota State remains in play and yes there’s a chance that he could choose to follow Otzelberger to UNLV but while there’s still time he is somebody that high majors should take a long look at. He’s tough, he is a good athlete and he can create shots off the dribble while making defenders pay from deep. He has already been to Kansas State since opening things up, is expected to see Iowa State on Tuesday and has already heard from Creighton (where he will visit Wednesday) and Illinois. Don’t look for him to take too much time with his recruitment and if he doesn’t follow Otzelberger to UNLV he’s likely to stay in the Midwest. This kid can play and he’s one to monitor over the next week or two.