Three-Point Play: UCLA opening, Cole Anthony, best scorer in U.S.
It is a new year, which means we are closer to seeing the coaching carousel spin and the elite from the class of 2019 put their recruitments to bed. In this week’s Three-Point Play, national analyst Corey Evans takes on the coaching search at UCLA, why Oregon may be the team to beat for Cole Anthony and who the best scorer is in high school ball.
How good is the UCLA job?
UCLA is the first power conference program in the market for a new head coach. While the Bruins are steeped in history, the question must be asked: How good of a job is it in 2019?
To UCLA fans, it is a job at a program that should be competing consistently not just for Pac-12 championships but also elbowing Duke and Kentucky for who is the bluest of bluebloods, a program that once had John Wooden roaming the sidelines. Those expectations are a little far-fetched currently, and it hasn’t been since Russell Westbrook graced the L.A. campus that the Bruins were consistently in the national title hunt.
The administration has begun to allocate more funding to the program and its facilities, but charter flights, better coaching salaries and a better game-day atmosphere must be in the game plan for the next head coach.
While I do not quite see the job it in the same cloth as Duke, Kansas, Kentucky or UNC, it still is one that is located in a tremendous hotbed for talent, has the cache that has lingered throughout the years and can offer the bright lights and tremendous weather that L.A. offers. All that equates for a top 10 job in the sport.
I asked a few college coaches about the UCLA job.
“UCLA is potentially an elite job. It has the facilities, tradition and recruiting landscape to get there. It is up to the administration and support to treat it like an elite job, though, which they have not done in years. They invested in Chip Kelly. Will they invest in the next men’s basketball coach?” said one Pac-12 coach.
Another power conference assistant coach felt similar. “UCLA is one of the most storied programs in college basketball history, and it is in L.A. The second-biggest media market is in L.A. It is definitely a top 5 job,” he said.
Regardless of who the next Bruins head coach is, if the funding and support is given, a struggling Pac-12 is there for the taking. UCLA represents a national brand and an opportunity that - with the proper hiring - could be the conference’s top program again just three years from now and jostling the nation’s best for blue-chip recruits.
Ducks gain ground with Anthony
The new year has brought little movement from some of the top available prospects in the 2019 class. That could be changing in the coming weeks, as Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart might be near their college decisions. Another one to keep an eye on is Cole Anthony.
The top lead guard prospect in the 2019 class, Anthony has taken official visits to Georgetown, Notre Dame, Oregon and UNC. Miami and Wake Forest are also on his final list, but this is strictly a battle between Oregon and UNC.
While most of the thought has surrounded UNC in recent months, the Ducks are not just window dressing - but rather might be the sneaky favorite in a fluid situation.
Is that commitment of Anthony’s near? It depends on who you talk to. The thought was that he would wait until the spring to see how his finalists and their respective personnel aligned. I think this is still the case, as Anthony holds all of the leverage and anyone recruiting him would practically hold a scholarship until the last minute in August in hoping to enroll the five-star.
However, there have been whispers that a commitment might not be too far off. I wouldn’t get my hopes up, especially with this class of prospects, a group that has leaned more toward taking their time. Regardless, this is not an open-and-shut case for the Tar Heels. The Ducks could jump in and snag Anthony, and that would not only bolster Oregon’s hopes of another Final Four run next season, but would also infuse some optimism into a Pac-12 Conference that is enduring a dismal season.
The best scorer in America?
I caught some flak a few weeks ago when I threw out the notion that Cam Thomas might be the best scorer in high school ball. I maintain he is in the conversation.
But that got me thinking about the best scorer in America.
As I said, Thomas is definitely in the conversation. The 6-foot-2 guard has already amassed over 1,000 points in high school play and didn’t even play a minute during his sophomore year. He has raised his basketball ceiling through the years, having grown another inch or two, has added some athleticism to his offensive artillery and his three-level scoring abilities make you believe that you’re watching Ben Gordon reincarnated. However, Thomas has some tough competition to fend off.
Anthony Edwards has heard his fair share of comparisons to the purest of NBA scorers in the mold of James Harden and Brad Beal, and for good reason. Despite starting games in a lethargic fashion, Edwards still finds a way to continually put up 30-plus second-half performances. He is a walking bucket and should have no issues seeing his game translate to the highest of levels. Keep an eye on Georgia here, as the hometown Bulldogs have been coming on of late.
Rocket Watts, the single-game Nike EYBL scoring record-holder, isn’t too far behind. Oh, and we can’t leave out Joe Girard. You know, the guard from upstate New York who shattered Lance Stephenson’s career state scoring record before he even completed his junior year! Michigan State and Syracuse, respectively, have some scoreboard-lighters heading their way.
Josh Christopher, Cole Anthony, Jalen Green and Boogie Ellis are just a few others that come to mind as to who the best scorer is in America. There is no clear-cut answer, but it is a fun conversation to have, as each should become top scorers in college, similar to what we are currently seeing with Markus Howard, Carsen Edwards and Chris Clemons.