All-Decade: What to expect in the 2020s?
The 2010s are coming to a close, and as part of Rivals' All-Decade series, we look ahead to how things might look in hoops recruiting when we enter 2030. Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald discuss what we know will be changing the recruiting world and offer thoughts on major change that could occur in the next decade.
RIVALS ALL-DECADE BASKETBALL: Best recruiters | Most exciting prospects | Dynamic duos | All-2010s team | The 10 biggest rankings misses | Coaches who will emerge in next decade | Best recruiters in 2020s | Ranking our No. 1 players from each year | Biggest headlines in recruiting 10 years ago
RIVALS ALL-DECADE FOOTBALL: The All-Decade Team | Top QBs | Top RBs | Top WRs/TEs | Top OL | Top DT | Top DE | Biggest flips | Programs trending up, down | Biggest busts | Ranking the No. 1s | Crazy recruiting storylines in 2010 | Ten coaches that will impact next 10 years | Comparing team rankings | Five programs set to emerge as recruiting powers in 2020s | What to expect over the next decade
1. Within the next few years, players should be able to go directly to the NBA from high school. Who does this hit the hardest?
Bossi: The obvious answer here is that it impacts the bluebloods and anybody else who has been feasting on one-and-done talent. Let me tell you, for at least the first few years that players are allowed to go directly to the NBA Draft, I’m expecting a mass exodus as every kid is thinking he will be ready. Really, I won’t be surprised if we see 20, 25 or even 30 players try to go this route. I hope I’m wrong. We see teams preparing for this already. For instance look at Duke. D.J. Steward, Mark Williams, Henry Coleman and Jaemyn Brakefield have high-level talents. However, none of these guys look like one-and-done talents. Let’s say the 2022 class can go straight to the NBA. Well, those guys as juniors during the 2022-23 season are going to be better than most one-and-dones and it has been a minute since experienced depth like that has been in Durham. There will of course be a trickle down effect, but it’s those at the top who will feel NBA changes the most.
Evans: This is always a trickle-down effect which causes me to say that the mid-major realm will be hit the hardest. The likes of Duke and Kentucky will continually enroll the elite, though this group of blue-chip prospects might be a step down from we have become accustomed to the bluebloods enrolling. The traditional high-majors will have to poach those that we might have found starring at the mid-major level, robbing the sport of the Cinderellas we see every March. Sure, there will be a few recruits that go under the radar but the mid-major realm will have to adjust by prioritizing prospects earlier in the process.
McDonald: The answers to these questions in my opinion have some overlap. For top programs who regularly recruit five-star and top 50 prospects, it's going to be a bit of an adjustment. I'm guessing when the rule changes most five-star prospects will turn pro instead of going to college, and we'll even see some prospects outside the five-star range give it a shot. The days of Duke and Kentucky relying on freshmen to keep them at the top of sport will be over. I don't necessarily think programs will be hit hardest though as a strength of Coach K and John Calipari is their ability to always adapt. It's the schools that generally recruit at the top that can't figure out how to adapt that will be left behind.
2. Name, image and likeness is looming as a significant factor in future recruiting. How do you see it impacting the world of recruiting?
Bossi: Of course it is going to have some impact, but I don’t think it’s going to be as chaotic as some expect. Will there be any shortage of car dealerships, local restaurants and businesses lining up to get a Cole Anthony to come sign autographs on a Saturday in Chapel Hill? Nope. But, what nobody has talked about is that these places won’t exactly have unlimited resources. How many players can the top Ford dealership in Lexington reasonably expect to drop deals on? Also, let’s say you are Cam’Ron Fletcher. If NIL goes through, where might you do better? At Kentucky where you are one of many highly celebrated recruits, or at Missouri where they want badly to root for a homegrown talent? I see some openings for some programs to really go all in for talent they might not have usually landed. One other thing that hasn’t been discussed is the need to staff for this. If I was running a big-time program, I’d already have the wheels in motion on all of this and make what we can do once this goes through a big part of my recruiting pitch.
Evans: It is going to impact the game in some way. How so remains up for debate seeing that this is a new world that no one exactly knows how it will play out. Will a mid-major program hypothesize a recruiting pitch that highlights how a specific prospect can maximize his brand-making powers compared to just being ‘another guy’ at the high-major level? Will a power conference program bank on its national reach and intertwine such a dynamic within its own recruiting pitch? It is going to change the game and is the type of implementation that will be policed differently as time goes by. One thing is for sure, though, if your program doesn’t employ a forward-thinking or outside-the-box thinker on its coaching staff, your school might be left behind.
McDonald: I've long been a believer that NCAA rules don't have much impact on which schools win. If you scrapped the entire rule book, the bluebloods would win in basketball while Ohio State and Alabama would win in football because they care the most and have the resources to support it. The name, image and likeness could impact recruiting a little bit for non-traditional powers, but the usual suspects at the top of the sport will figure out a way to do it better.
3. Finally, look ahead 10 years from now and give your hottest take on something that will be profoundly different about college basketball and recruiting as we know it today?
Bossi: I will go full-on hot take here. At the rate things are going I do not think the NCAA will exist by 2030. At least not in the current state. Member institutions are becoming more fed up over pretty much everything from rules enforcement, punishments, transfer waivers and much more. The general public is tired of things and there are issues like NIL. As currently set up, I don’t see how the NCAA can remain viable for too much longer. Now, college athletics will always need a governing body and if the NCAA wants to remain in place, there’s going to have to be significant change over the next decade.
Evans: Really, beyond NIL and the one-and-done rule being phased out, could the reconfigurations of the power conferences be enough to change the recruiting landscape as we know it. We just saw it with UConn leaving the AAC for the Big East and prospects outwardly speaking on how it makes the Huskies that much more of a favorable place to attend. What are the chances that the power leagues on the football side remain as is? Better yet, might the power leagues separate themselves from the NCAA entirely? What might that do to its basketball counterparts? Does it directly impact the NCAA Tournament? I highly doubt that it remains at 68 teams in all by the time 2030 arrives which definitely impact the sport and recruiting game as a whole.
McDonald: It will be fun covering recruiting announcements from a car dealership in [insert name of city of top college hoops program] because said car dealership gave a prospect a great deal to choose their favorite school. I seriously can't wait for the name, image and likeness laws to kick because it's going to be great for prospects to finally be able to legally say "I chose [insert school] because they offered the most money" or something along those lines.