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Wednesday's Leftovers: Dishing on Duke, UNC and plenty of prospects

RANKINGS: 2019 Rivals150 | 2020 Rivals150 | 2019 Team Rankings

Mike Krzyzewski
Mike Krzyzewski (AP Images)

We were unable to get to all of your questions in yesterday’s #TwitterTuesday, so we've hit on few others in this week’s Wednesday’s Leftovers. We tackle such topics as Duke and UNC’s 2019 class, the recruitment of Jalen Gaffney and assessments of recent Marquette and Missouri pledges.

MORE: Twitter Tuesday | Class of 2020 updated Rivals150 | Video highlights of Rivals150 Top 10

The past few weeks have not been kind to Duke, a program that isn't accustomed to losing recruiting battles. After seeing Bryan Antoine select Villanova last week, Josiah James did the same today for Tennseee . I do believe that the Blue Devils will begin to cast a wider net in the 2019 class, just as Kentucky has in recent weeks.

Could the Blue Devils begin to pursue Cole Anthony a bit more vigorously? What about Jaden McDaniels? There were conversations between the two camps early this summer, and I would not be surprised to see things pick up. They did just offer Boogie Ellis on Tuesday night where Drew Timme and EJ Liddell are two others that had garnered Duke interest in the past. If the Blue Devils are going to make a move on any of the five, expect that to happen in the next several days - before it is too late.

I will say that it is about 40 percent, not because I don’t think that they won’t land at least one of the two, but since you asked about both pledging to the Tar Heels, that's a tall order, especially with Kansas in the mix. However, I do feel fairly confident UNC can snatch Green, one of the more versatile and talented guards in the 2019 class, and the Tar Heels are primarily battling with Arizona for his commitment.

Robinson-Earl on the other hand, is down to a final five, but many believe that this race will come down to UNC and Kansas. I will side with Jayhawks for now, but I do still see good things ahead for Roy Williams’ crew in the months ahead as Green and another potential guard standout should pledge.

Jalen Gaffney
Jalen Gaffney (Nick Lucero/

A three-star guard out of New Jersey, Gaffney is down to a final four for the most part: Clemson, St. John’s, UConn and Xavier. Pitt and Florida were involved, but both have bowed out. Gaffney will spend an official visit on Clemson, but since the Tigers took Chase Hunter, things could be a bit more muddled (although they would love to take Gaffney). Xavier wants two guards in the 2019 class but, just like Clemson, celebrated the commitment of a Rivals150 guard, Dahmir Bishop.

For now, I like UConn and St. John’s in the race for Gaffney’s pledge. The Huskies moved up their official visit with the well-rounded guard to this weekend and while they did just take the pledge of James Bouknight, they do need another guard in the 2019 class. St. John’s will have to wait until next month to host Gaffney, but with where things sit now, I like the Red Storm and UConn, and the Huskies might be pushing for his pledge this weekend.

Marquette came up with the commitment of Dexter Akanno earlier this month, and while that did not receive a ton of fanfare, I do approve of the Golden Eagles’ win on the recruiting trail. He entered July with just two scholarship offers, and none coming from a high-major program. Regardless, he is the type of guard that Marquette has been lacking in recent years. Offensive firepower has remained, but defensively the Golden Eagles have struggled. That aspect of their game should be improved immediately with Akanno on hand next year.

Look at him as a Marcus Smart-type of guard: tough, competitive, well-built and a big-time defender that wants to do the dirty work. He just missed the new Rivals150 last week, but was given a ranking in the top-50 at his shooting guard position. He should continue to garner positive marks as he enters his prep year at Blair Academy this fall.

The five-star guard has the potential to evolve into a one-and-done type of prospect after his lone year but the best bet for him might be setting up shop for two years in college before taking a harder look at the NBA.

What really makes James so valuable is the fact that he is 6-foot-5 and sports a 6-foot-9 wingspan. He is best used on the ball as a playmaker and has a mature, developed skill set. The dilemma is that he is not a consistent shooter from 15 feet and out, and that asset in today’s game is as valuable as ever. That could hold him back some.

By choosing Tennessee, expect Rick Barnes to give him every chance in the world to flourish immediately, so that he can be an example for years to come that his program is the type of place that elite prospects can go, succeed and then be selected in the upper tier of the NBA Draft.

Missouri came up with a sneaky commitment over the weekend in the form of 6-foot-6 small forward Christian Guess. The Cleveland native will be one of the last to enroll as a class of 2018 prospect, and he will be on Mizzou’s roster for this upcoming season.

It is not like he was an unheard-of prospect though, as West Virginia, Cincinnati, DePaul and a few others had kept tabs on him throughout his prep career. What he brings to the floor is versatility and upside. He is your prototypical athletic wing who can slide between positions, score at the basket and from the perimeter and defend his spot, whether it be as a 2-guard or as a small-ball power forward. He has the talent and abilities to impact the program. If he can put it all together and get his bearings down, look for Guess to be a nice injection off the bench for the next few years.

Ed Cooley
Ed Cooley (AP Images)

Providence would love to add another member from the Rivals150 alongside four-star forward Greg Gantt, and Akok Akok could be a guy who would answer a lot of its questions in the 2019 class. However, there is a lot more time to go in his recruitment, as UConn, Pitt, Maryland, Georgetown and Syracuse are just a few that have invested a good amount of time in recruiting him. While it's difficult to forecast, I think Providence will miss on Akok.

Still, the Friars have a puncher’s chance with Karim Coulibaly, another well regarded prospect that is more of an interior-based big man. If they don't get either of those two, Gantt might be the only Rivals150 recruit to enroll next fall, but the Friars should have a bevy of talent returning and Ed Cooley could have, arguably, his best roster.