Twitter Tuesday: Indiana, Illinois, under-the-radar prospects, more
RIVALS ROUNDTABLE: Next big commit, must-gets and more
In this week's Twitter Tuesday, Rivals.com national basketball recruiting analyst Eric Bossi checks in on the recruiting efforts of Indiana and Illinois, identifies some under-the-radar prospects on the West Coast and dives into the reclassification trend.
At a minimum, the Hoosiers are the clear favorite for Jackson-Davis. Not only would I be a bit surprised if the 6-foot-9 big man didn’t pick the Hoosiers, the entire recruiting world would be surprised. He starts the visit process this weekend with a trip to UCLA and we should at least pay attention to what he has to say after the visit and he’s got visits for Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue and Wake Forest set as well but I’m just having a hard time seeing any of them winning out as of today.
Then there’s Brooks, whose recruitment looks to be a bit tougher to read. He’s another that I give the Hoosiers the edge for but I don’t feel quite as strongly about them being a potential leader. Like Jackson-Davis, Brooks is scheduled to visit UCLA this weekend and he’s also got others like Michigan State, Kentucky, Louisville and North Carolina to name a few in the mix. Of those, Michigan State has been strong for a while too.
The Hoosiers are also involved with five-stars Isaiah Stewart – a New York transplant who attends high school at La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere with Brooks – and Trendon Watford, but I’m not sure I see it happening with either of them (especially if they get Jackson-Davis and Brooks). Top-35 big man Zeke Nnaji was in town over the weekend but his recruitment still appears to be wide-open but a guard is more important anyway.
Rivals150 combo guard Armaan Franklin was on campus over the weekend and I see the Hoosiers battling it out with Purdue for him and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing ends up happening with sharp shooter Brandon Newman. Another guy I would keep an eye on is Jahmius Ramsey. The top-40 guard from Texas is likely going to wait until the spring which is good for the Hoosiers, who should have answers on all of their other spots by the time the fall ends.
There’s no question things are about to get very busy for the Illinois staff. They just hosted Zeke Nnaji for an unofficial visit on Monday and are expected to host four-star big men Anthony Walker, Oscar Tshiebwe and Drew Timme during September. It’s looking like four-star wing Terrence Shannon could visit during the month as well. Likely top target and in-state star E.J. Liddell visits in October as does stud Canadian wing Quincy Guerrier and Arkansas big man Jason Jitoboh. The Illini also reportedly offered Chicago point guard Markese Jacobs after he decommitted from Kansas over the weekend.
That’s a lot of high-profile players visiting over a period of five or six weeks, so you have to figure Brad Underwood and the Illini come out of there with somebody. Liddell is the one guy that sticks out to me as the absolute must-have, like a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10. The combo forward is a fit, he can provide immediate minutes and they’ve got to beat out rivals like Ohio State and Missouri (Wisconsin and Kansas State are his other two finalists) to land him. There’s a strong relationship there and the time has been put in. Shannon had committed to DePaul for a hot minute but is now back open and I won’t be surprised to see it come down to the Illini and Florida State now that he’s back on the market.
I wish I could point to one of these guys and tell Illini fans that they are the clear-cut leader for them, but I can't do that as of this time. But, they are in the game and the takeaway for me is that the message from the staff to recruits that they want aggressive, versatile and athletic players as they look to rebuild the program is getting through.
First, let’s define under the radar. How about we go with players out West who don’t currently rank inside the Rivals150 who are at least going to be under consideration or could end up on the upper mid to high-major level.
Shooting guard Jaden Shackelford, power forward Jalen Graham, small forward Jamon Kemp, combo guard Noah Williams, power forward Prince Gillam, center Christian Koloko and small forward Emmanuel Andrew are just a few that come immediately to mind. Shackelford is a true gunner but has the tools to emerge as one of 2019’s top jump shooters. Graham is a long-armed shot-blocker with offensive upside who took July by storm (watch out for Oklahoma with him). Kemp is an athletic and aggressive wing who can really get to the rim in transition. Williams is a tall and lanky guard with some burst and big upside as a multi-positional backcourt guy. Gillam might be 6-foot-6 on a good day but he’s as ferocious around the rim as any player in the country. Koloko is raw but you can’t ever turn your nose at a guy with his size and ability to protect the rim while Andrew emerged as a wing with major upside towards the end of the summer. For programs like San Diego State, Pepperdine, Fresno State, UC Santa Barbara, Utah State and many others, there’s a chance to land some guys that will be really dangerous upperclassmen.
As much as it drives me crazy that guys are bouncing from one class to another these days, it’s clear that the reclassification trend is here to stay. Especially for a 2020 class where many had been banking on the opportunity to go straight to the NBA. Now that it looks like it will be at least 2021 or 2022 before high schoolers can go straight to the NBA, pretty much every top 10 to 15 player in the class of 2020 is being rumored to be considering 2019 as an option.
For instance, at a minimum I’ve already heard speculation about No. 1 Jalen Green, No. 2 Scottie Barnes, No. 3 Evan Mobley, No. 4 R.J. Hampton, No. 5 N’Faly Dante and No. 6 ranked Anthony Edwards perhaps looking into the leap. Hampton’s family has said it is something they could consider and he and Green have already set a September official visit to Memphis. Edwards was originally in the class of 2019 which suggests he has to graduate this spring regardless (and then possibly look into a prep school if he stays 2020). But, for the most part this is all speculation at this point and there is still some serious academic work to be done.
So, are we going to have some top 2020 players end up enrolling with the class of 2019? Of that I have no doubt. Exactly which prospects we will be able to separate rumor from legitimate chance of doing so, we’ll need at least the first half of the season to start figuring out.