Basketball Recruiting - Three-Point Play: Regionalized recruiting, offseason winners
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Three-Point Play: Regionalized recruiting, offseason winners

Has the coronavirus pandemic already left a giant imprint on recruiting? In the latest Three-Point Play, Rivals analyst Corey Evans assesses how regionalized recruiting could become the norm in the coming years, why the Transfer Portal could lead to major issues down the road, and also a look at the early winners of the offseason.

MORE: Ten freshmen that will need to deliver next year | Tuesday mailbag | Wednesday mailbag

2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

2022 Rankings: Top 75


1. Regionalized recruiting ahead

Are we on our way to more regionalized recruiting within college basketball? I began to ask myself that last week and it was only supported when speaking with Cliff Omoruyi in preparing for his commitment on Saturday.

“You see what is going on with the coronavirus, I have the chance to be able to do stuff from home instead of being a long-distance away,” Omoruyi said about the impact that it had on his college decision.

Do I believe that it was the end-all, be-all for why he chose the local Rutgers program? I don’t. But whenever you have someone of his age that is worried about the what-if factor of going 3,000-miles away from home to college if he would have selected Arizona State, compared to being supported by his family that is just a 30-minue drive from the Rutgers campus, it is conceivable that it played a part.

It seems earlier this century, as boosters were willing to fund private jets, recruiting budgets grew and conferences built their own television networks, recruiting went national. Then Trae Young, Anthony Edwards and recently Cade Cunningham choose local schools instead of traditional blue bloods, indicating regionalized recruiting had become more of a thing even before the coronavirus pandemic.

On the college end, staffs may not have the same recruiting budgets due to the wide-ranging economic fallout ahead, from boosters cutting donations to NCAA tournament revenue being wiped out.

However, it is the scarring impact from the pandemic on the prospect and his family that might also lead to more staying closer to home for college.

“The big difference was the coronavirus. Once it hit, it kind of gave him a real meaning of what distance really is,” Omoruyi’s guardian Mohamed Oliver said. “Once all that stuff started to happen and everyone started to be quarantined, the first thing that was said was what would happen if this thing happened if he was out in Arizona. It all just started to make more sense to him with what he wanted.”

That might become a more consistent refrain in the coming years. Welcome to 2020 college basketball recruiting as we now know it.

2. Early offseason winners

Malik Thomas
Malik Thomas (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Three programs have emerged as early winners of the offseason:

1. USC - No one has won the past few weeks more than USC. Not only have the Trojans left a major dent in the 2021 class thanks to the commitments of two of the top shot makers out west in Malik Thomas and Reese-Dixon Waters, but it also landed three from the transfer portal. Tahj Eaddy (Santa Clara), Isaiah White (Utah Valley) and Chevez Goodwin (Wofford) will all be eligible in the fall.

The Trojans also have a few more scholarships to tend to and might not be done yet. They are gaining ground on Ziaire Williams and on Tuesday, made a late emergence within Josh Christopher’s top-five.

2. Virginia Tech - Sure, the loss of Landers Nolley stings, but there also may be greater continuity on a team whose backcourt will not be lacking in the skill or versatility department next season. It was only amplified by this week’s commitment from Kansas State grad-transfer Cartier Diarra, who should leave an immediate mark.

The Hokies also won the recruitment of three-star forward David N’Guessan, a late bloomer that has his best still ahead of him. They need a true big man to complete its roster, but the offseason has been a promising one in Blacksburg despite a few transfers.

3. Rhode Island - David Cox did a phenomenal job landing four commitments in four days earlier this week, all picking Rhode Island over a power conference suitor or two. First it was Abou Ousmane, who should be a nice piece down low. Then it was Makhi and Makhel Mitchell, two talented interior presences that left the Maryland program and are one-time Rivals150 prospects.

Lastly, Malik Martin, the younger brother of former URI standout Hassan Martin, will bring his nearly nine point and four rebound averages from Charlotte. The Rams did lose a few to transfer, but hasn’t everyone? They will remain among the upper-crust in its league for the foreseeable future.

3. Uncertainty for transfers

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted millions and has changed the sport of college basketball in every facet possible. As Eric Bossi outlined last month, the crisis may have saved a handful of head coaching jobs, and it has also made for a new world within the transfer portal.

Quinnipiac grad-transfer Kevin Marfo told Rivals.com following his transfer that, “Pending the COV-19 situation being resolved, I will begin scheduling visits with the respective schools.” Well, Marfo never got around to it and decided to commit to Texas A&M over the weekend. He began to grasp that visits of any type are not days away, but rather weeks or maybe even months away.

This is all forcing transfers to pick their next school sight unseen. I get Seth Towns to Ohio State, Rodney Howard to Georgia Tech and Brycen Goodine to Providence; each are returning home and had visited the school’s campus during their high school days. For all others, they’re going to be out of luck during a time that they need to make it work with it being their second and likely last go around for where they will complete their college careers.

That has also brought hesitancy on colleges' part, too. Do they really want someone that they haven’t developed the proper relationship with? There is only so much that can be learned over the phone compared to having the transfer around its program for a weekend’s worth of time. Mistakes now could be exasperated further during the season.