Bossi's Best: Seven storylines to watch in 2020
Another year and decade have come and gone. As we prepare to enter 2020, what will be the biggest storylines in the recruiting world over the next 12 months? In this week’s edition of Bossi’s Best, national analyst Eric Bossi takes a look at seven storylines to track.
1. Who will finish No. 1 in 2020?
We’ve already written about it plenty this winter, but the battle between current No. 1 Evan Mobley, No. 2 Cade Cunningham and No. 3 Jalen Green is currently too close to call. Who emerges and why will they do so? Could anybody crash the party?
Corey Evans and I have been discussing the No. 1 spot in detail and we each see the case for all three. Headed to USC, Mobley is an incredibly nimble seven-footer who changes the game defensively and has offensive upside. Headed to Oklahoma State, Cunningham is the most physically ready and well-rounded of the group and perhaps the safest bet to maximize his potential. Then there’s the undecided Green (Auburn, Memphis, USC and others) who may be the most skilled scorer of the bunch and the best suited for today’s NBA. It’s a really tough call and one that we aren’t likely to finalize until the last ranking of the class sometime in the spring.
Could anybody crash the party? Well, should Jonathan Kuminga move from 2021, he would be in the discussion. As for wild cards in 2020, I’ve really got my eye on Ziaire Williams, who currently ranks No. 6. His size, skill and athleticism on the wing scream incredible long-term upside and I’m curious to see if he can be a viable candidate for the top spot now that he’s eligible at Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon.
2. How serious will overseas professional options be?
The fact of the matter is that most of the top prospects want to get to the money as soon as possible and I can’t blame them for wanting to secure their future. Guys like R.J. Hampton, LaMelo Ball, Brian Bowen, Terrance Ferguson and Emmanuel Mudiay among others have seen some varying levels of success by skipping college and playing overseas. Taking a year off entirely has worked out for former five-stars Mitchell Robinson and Darius Bazley.
So, who follows in their footsteps? As it is, several top prospects like Green, Makur Maker, Jalen Suggs, Isaiah Todd and more have been rumored to be looking into pro options. Who will do it? The more important question is which, if any, of these guys will overseas pro leagues be interested in?
It’s not as easy as a player saying “I want to go pro”. Somebody has to want him, be willing to pay the money being asked for and have a good set up. From the sounds of it, overseas teams are paying closer and closer attention to the maturity level of high schoolers and who is around them because they don’t want to babysit or bring over anybody that could be problematic to manage.
3. What will Josh Christopher do?
Of the remaining big-time prospects, the recruitment of five-star Josh Christopher is the most interesting. The explosive shooting guard from SoCal has family ties at Arizona State (brother on the team) and Missouri (cousin is the strength coach), Michigan is making a legitimate push under Juwan Howard and UCLA gets a lot of run because they are the local school and in a Los Angeles market that has appeal to somebody like Christopher who is building his off the floor brand.
So far, Christopher has only been to Michigan and Howard officially and as of last check he’s not put into motion any other visits. When will he do so? Is he really leaning any direction? So far, I’ve been unable to get a good feel for him and the coaches recruiting him are pretty unsure as well. His story will be fun to follow over the next three or four months.
4. Will there be any news from the NBA on the age-limit change?
We keep speculating that the NBA will change Draft rules by 2022. As we keep speculating and NBA sources keep saying there will be a change, nothing has happened and Adam Silver doesn’t appear to be in any hurry.
As it stands, a player has to turn 19 and be one year removed from his graduating class to be Draft eligible. However, the expectation has been for a while that beginning with the 2022 class those restrictions will be removed and we’ll return to the days before one-and-done (which began with the 2006 class) where players could go directly to the NBA. If and when the rule gets changed, it will mean a shift in how schools recruit and a change in how we cover the elite prospects in each class.
5. Is the NCAA going to be serious about name, image and likeness?
Mark Emmert of the NCAA has been paying a lot of lip service to the Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) discussion as states have raced to pass laws enabling college athletes to soon profit off of themselves while in school. He’s even asked for help from the government on sorting it out. But, are he and the NCAA really serious about this? If so, they had better get to work on a real plan and they need to do it ASAP.
In the coming years, NIL figures to emerge as one of the most significant developments on the recruiting trail that we’ve seen in some time. Is the NCAA actually going to get ahead (or at least somewhat ahead) of what is looming as a major, major issue?
6. Will the reclassification trend continue with 2021 class?
Each spring for the last couple of years we have seen more and more players reclassify up and land in school a year earlier than initially planned. Some do it in time for the late signing day, while others wait until the end of playing summer ball to make the move. Who is going to do so from 2021?
There are already several who have either flat out said that it is a possibility and many others who have been rumored to be looking into making a class switch. Five-stars like Kuminga, Paolo Banchero, Moussa Diabate and Khristian Lander are just a few whose names have come up as possibly making a move to 2020. Who will actually go through with it? When will they make the moves? These decisions could drastically change some teams outlooks for 2020-21.
7. Can Emoni Bates follow up his strong 2019?
As far as I’m concerned, the emergence of Emoni Bates was one of, if not the, biggest stories of 2019.
Sure, the No. 1 sophomore in America had developed a pretty big reputation entering his freshman year at Ypsilanti (Mich.) Lincoln. But, I don’t think anybody could have seen the 6-foot-8 wing being so dominant so fast and generating as much buzz as he did.
I’ve written that he’s possibly the best freshman I have ever seen. So have many others and as a result we’ve set the bar for expectations pretty high for a guy who is still four weeks away from earning his driver’s license. Honestly, the hype that has been created is probably a little bit unfair for Bates, but if anybody can live up to it, I think it’s him. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do in 2020.