basketball Edit

Wednesday Leftovers: Dishing on Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, more

RANKINGS: 2019 Rivals150 | 2019 Team rankings | 2019 Position rankings

2020 Rivals150 | 2020 Position rankings

Top 75 of 2021


Tom Crean
Tom Crean (AP Images)

A few more pressing questions to get to in this week’s Wednesday’s Leftovers. We address the recruiting developments at Georgia, how Indiana can fill out its roster, my prediction for Matthew Hurt, a dark horse for the Final Four and the pros and cons of Kentucky’s pitch.

MORE: Eric Bossi's 2018-19 college basketball awards | Eight tourney coaches ready to take the next step

Yes, yes and yes. Tom Crean has never had major issues on the recruiting trail. Yes, he does love his often-slighted prospects that he can help mold and develop, such as Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo. But don’t forget his recruiting wins with Cody Zeller, Noah Vonleh and now Anthony Edwards.

Over the weekend, the Bulldogs secured the commitment of Christian Brown, and that counts as another win for the program on the recruiting trail. The Bulldogs have done a phenomenal job of selling the program to some of the best in the area, and they now sit with a top 10 class nationally. Crean has revitalized the program by infusing his own energy into it and also put together a very strong staff with quality ties to the Southeast. I don’t expect Georgia to consistently compete for top 5 classes nationally like its football counterpart, but I would also not be surprised to see the Bulldogs in the top 25 of the Rivals’ team rankings each year during his tenure.

*****

The miss on Keion Brooks left a slight sting at Indiana as he was the ideal wing that would have squelched a number of their concerns next season as a scorer with added size. Now that Brooks is a Kentucky pledge, IU has to regroup and figure out the best route in completing its roster.

The Hoosiers did just make the final six for Rivals150 center Tre Mitchell, but the prevailing thought is that he is a UMass lean. They are in the final list for Trendon Watford, too, but Alabama and Memphis are much further ahead in the race for the five-star.

This brings us to Harlond Beverly, who took an unofficial visit to Bloomington last month, and while Baylor, Georgia, Miami and Xavier are among those in a good spot for him, I do believe Indiana can get it done.

*****

Matthew Hurt
Matthew Hurt (https://rivals.com)

Kansas. Maybe I am totally off - or I am just stubborn, as I have stuck with my prediction for Hurt since he was a sophomore - but I do believe that, barring anything unforeseen, he ends up in Lawrence. Now, the confidence meter is not too high, but it should be noted that all of the programs recruiting him also don’t have a tremendous feel for which way he might be leaning. Duke gained some steam a few weeks ago, but I am not buying it just yet. Kentucky and UNC are just as involved, but without a timeline, Hurt committing to any of the four would not be a giant surprise, though I am going to stick with the Jayhawks.

*****

From a talent standpoint alone, I have to go with Iowa State. It comes down to which Cyclones team we will see. Will it be the one that ran through the Big 12 Tournament last week, or the one that was demolished just days earlier to a middling West Virginia squad?

If we get the former, there is no reason that they cannot go on a deep run. The talent is not lacking and neither is the ceiling of this ISU team. The Cyclones have experience and age with Nick Weiler-Babb, Michael Jacobson and Marial Shayok, star-studded freshmen in Talen Horton-Tucker and Tyrese Haliburton and a capable takeover artist in Lindell Wigginton. If all of the pieces coalesce and the ball doesn’t stick, the Cyclones could make a run, although having Kentucky in their way in the Sweet 16 game does hurt their chances some.

*****

It is a case-by-case situation. The sell at Kentucky: the platform, elite accoutrements, competing against the best every day in practice and the chance to be appointment television each and every game. The argument for other programs: more minutes, a larger opportunity to contribute, the chance to play more often through mistakes and the chance to have a bigger part of the spotlight.

Take, for example, Charles Matthews. The Michigan star was stuck behind Jamal Murray, Isaiah Briscoe and Tyler Ullis at Kentucky as he averaged just 10 minutes per game. Matthews decided to transfer and is now the catalyst for Michigan’s chances at a Final Four run this month, and he should be selected somewhere in June’s NBA Draft. Matthews figured that it was in his best interests to receive greater playing time and a chance to be ‘the guy’ elsewhere. Meanwhile, Derek Willis played just 39 minutes his freshman year before averaging over 20 per game his senior year, and he won two SEC titles during his upperclassman years. It worked out for both Matthews and Willis and my bet is that it will work out for EJ Montgomery, too.