Three-Point Play: Truncated season, Anthony Black, recent commits
Could the ongoing exodus of college football players from the sport signify what might come for college basketball? Rivals Basketball analyst Corey Evans examines that possibility in today's Three-Point Play.
Wednesday's Mailbag: Kentucky, Pitt, Indiana, Duke, Seton Hall
2022 Rankings: Top 75
1. RAMIFICATIONS OF A TRUNCATED SEASON
Wake Forest standout Sage Surratt is the most recent prominent college football player to opt out of the 2020 football season in order to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. Surratt isn’t the first to make such a decision and probably won’t be the last. The uncertainty of the fall college football season has forced some that may have more certain futures in the sport to opt out instead of risking their draft stock or health. Could this trend be a sign of things to come with college basketball?
The simple answer is that we don't know. We don't even know what the college basketball season will look like. We do know that the Pac-12 will not play games until Jan. 1 at the earliest, and it would be a surprise if they were the only power conference to delay the start of their season.
Compared to college football, where only third-year players can enter the draft, practically anyone outside of enrolling freshmen can enter the NBA Draft. The NBA extended the window for early entrants to Aug. 17 and, knowing that the 2020-21 season may be cut in half, it has given players an opportunity to make a more educated decision for their future.
That Aug. 17 deadline didn't didn’t mean much for freshmen entering the sport like Ziaire Williams, Josh Christopher and Evan Mobley, three five-stars that are expected to play in the Pac-12 this season. They are all practically guaranteed to be first-round selections in the 2021 NBA Draft. If there is no season until Jan. 1 or later, would they wait things out and hope that they do not struggle out of the gates? There will be no non-conference portion of the season to shake off the rust and to acclimate to the college game.
Would it be prudent for those elite players to opt out before beginning their college career? Does the G League route become more enticing? Is it a comparable decision that Surratt just made with just training for next year’s draft? These are the conversations taking place for a select few right now, but that number will only multiply if more conferences follow the Pac-12's lead.
2. GETTING TO KNOW ANTHONY BLACK
I finally had the chance to watch some Anthony Black footage over the weekend and, man, I am intrigued. At first glance, what you get is a near 6-foot-6, jumbo playmaker who has a tremendous feel, pace and IQ for the game. Some may knock him for his lack of burst and explosiveness around the basket but, for the purists, he is what you call a basketball player.
Then you get to the fact that he is one of the best two-sport athletes in the country and is probably the only person on this planet that could credibly land an SMU football offer and a Texas A&M basketball offer on the same day. Dig more and you find out that he is not done growing, wears size 15 shoes, and sports a baby face that would have him carded for a PG-13 movie.
Mature beyond his years and graced with excellent coaching around him with his travel team and high school, Black has the chance to grow to 6-foot-9. He has to get stronger, yes, and his footwork and speed must improve as well, but there are not many prospects that can precisely play four positions in the half-court, make others better and is all about the team dynamic.
Some are going to say that he is the next Cade Cunningham. Sure, there are some similarities but, more accurately, there is only one Anthony Black. In a class that is absolutely loaded in 2022, especially in Texas, Black has the chance to graduate as one of the best, which is why we moved him into the national top 100 this week at No. 96 when Kok Yat moved to the class of 2021.
3. TWO CENTS ON TWO COMMITMENTS
Two of the top remaining uncommitted seniors came off the board on Wednesday. First, it was Maryland swooping in with James Graham, the Terps' third pick-up in the 2021 class. Later on, Michigan finally got its primary ballhandler in Frankie Collins. What do these commitments mean and what is next for the Big Ten programs?
Mark Turgeon has become known for relying upon dual big man lineups. That could be changing if he plans to use Jairus Hamilton, if eligible, as a small ball power forward this season and based on how his 2021 class is shaping up.
Ike Cornish, Julian Reese and now James Graham are in the hopper, three seniors that could share the floor at the same time. Cornish and Graham could play the 2-4, while Reese could play the 3-5. Multiple-position wings and forwards have come all the rage and the Terps may be going that route now, which is why they are not yet out of the race for Rivals150 forward David Jones who fits a similar mold, too.
Michigan, on the other hand, has already struck at the 2-4, but have been striking out on the point guard front. That changed last night with Collins' addition, a quick-twitch playmaker that applies pressure on both ends of the floor. The Wolverines are now sitting with a top-five class nationally but are not done yet.
A center is of the utmost importance, so look for Juwan Howard to continue to push for Efton Reid, Chet Holmgren and Charles Bediako. Beyond that, a complete stud could be taken with its final scholarship. Michigan is in a great spot with Harrison Ingram, just offered Bryce Hopkins and Hunter Sallis, and continue to track Jaden Hardy and Pat Baldwin.