Four late-period storylines to watch through the winter
The early signing period for the class of 2020 has come and gone. So, what will be the biggest storylines between now and the late period that runs from April 15 – May 20, 2020? National Analyst Eric Bossi takes a look at four storylines that will develop throughout the winter and spring.
Does Kentucky have an insurmountable lead in the team rankings?
After getting bested by Memphis in 2019 and Duke the previous few years, John Calipari has returned the Kentucky Wildcats to their familiar place atop the team rankings with their 2020 class. Can anybody catch them?
We don’t like to say never in recruiting, but it’s looking like it will be awfully tough for anybody to catch them. Kentucky's class, featuring five-stars Terrence Clarke, B.J. Boston, Devin Askew and Isaiah Jackson along with four-stars Lance Ware and Cam’Ron Fletcher, has a fairly healthy lead over Duke -- who appears to be the only program that can catch them. North Carolina's class is ranked third in the country, but the Tar Heels are likely full for 2020. Everybody else is likely too far behind to catch them.
The bigger question, likely, is going to be whether or not the Wildcats stay put with their six commits or if they look to add more talent.
What will California's five-star trio do?
Of the six remaining five-star prospects in the class of 2020, only five figure to ever commit to a college program as overall No. 8 Makur Maker is likely going to pursue professional options. Of those other five, three hail from the state of California and what No. 3 Jalen Green, No. 6 Ziaire Williams and No. 12 Josh Christopher decide to do will be a topic of much discussion this winter.
Memphis has been the perceived leader for Green for quite some time now, but is that even the case? All we know for sure is he has seen other campuses such as Auburn, Fresno State, Oregon and USC. We also know that he’s backed off his plans to commit on Christmas. He’ll be playing big-time events all winter long so he’ll be oft discussed.
Speaking of exposure, Williams isn’t going to lack for any. His Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon team is likely going to be the hottest ticket in high school basketball and is playing an aggressive national schedule to showcase Williams, B.J. Boston, LeBron James Jr., Zaire Wade and others. It looks like Williams is going to stay in Pac-12 country, but will it be Arizona, Stanford or USC? Could there be a surprise?
Finally, Christopher is another who could elect to stay out West and if that happens then Arizona State and UCLA figure to fight it out. Michigan and Missouri would love to see him head to the Midwest. Howard got a visit, but it’s anybody’s guess as to whether or not they have a legitimate shot to land the explosive scorer.
How many prospects will explore professional opportunities?
As we see more and more each year, heading to college is no longer a given for the top prospects. Heading overseas like R.J. Hampton or LaMelo Ball from 2019 did or taking time off to train like 2018 five-star Darius Bazley did is becoming more and more viable and for the most part has been a pretty successful path. It’s more than likely that we will see more do it from the class of 2020.
We already know that big man Makur Maker is going to pursue professional opportunities. Five-star point guard Jalen Suggs is interested in exploring the overseas market, five-star Canadian guard Karim Mane is draft-eligible and top-30 wing Marjon Beauchamp is planning to take a year off to focus on the draft.
Odds are more -- Jalen Green and Michigan commit Isaiah Todd are just a few who have been thrown out as possibilities to explore pro options -- will join them in exploring alternatives to college hoops, it’s just a question of who.
Will the coaching carousel or reclassification have an impact?
Every spring, the coaching carousel ends up playing a big role in how the early signing period ends up and players moving up classes can also change things. Look at 2019, Kansas scored with top-50 forward Jalen Wilson thanks to a coaching change, while Kentucky (Johnny Juzang), and Virginia Tech (Nahiem Alleyne, Jalen Cone) benefited from players moving up a class. Make no mistake, it’s going to happen again.
Which coaching changes could hurt or benefit various programs, that we don’t yet know. But, we do know that players like 2021 No. 1 Jonathan Kuminga, No. 2 Paolo Banchero, No. 12 Khristian Lander and others are already being mentioned as having the potential to enroll as members of the class of 2020.