Hoophall Classic: How did the top classes fare?
The Hoophall Classic proved to be every bit as much of a spectacle as expected. There were big time players committed to big time schools and many to watch down the road. Six of the top nine ranked 2020 classes and seven of the top 24 had at least half of their committed players on hand. How are their futures looking? How high should expectations be?
National analyst Eric Bossi takes a look at what fans can look forward to down the road.
Two members of the Razorbacks No. 9 ranked 2020 class were in attendance in four-star guards Moses Moody and K.K. Robinson. Playing for Eric Musselman will be a return home to Arkansas for each as Moody is a shooting guard at Montverde (Fla.) Academy and Robinson is a point guard at Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill. It was a good weekend for them.
Moody put together the best back to back games I have seen from him over the past few years. He hit open shots, was active defensively and he provided the scoring you hope to get from a two guard. His team is so loaded that he doesn’t always get a chance to be a main option, but given opportunities he produced. The hopes for him are high next year and how ready he is to be more of a primary option is going to be a big key.
Robinson was fantastic for Oak Hill, virtually flawless as a scorer and passer. He’s not a point who relies on athleticism or super quickness, but he sure is smart and does a great job of dictating pace because he makes good reads and decisions. He’ll be pushed to defend in the SEC.
Half of Duke’s second recruiting class was in attendance. Blue Devil fans can believe the hype. Five-star point guard Jeremy Roach and four-stars D.J. Steward and Mark Williams will all fill needs for Coach K.
Roach is just now getting his legs underneath him as a senior and he’s impressive. He isn’t a game manager type like either Tre Jones, or Tyus Jones, but he’s got a gear athletically that those guys didn’t have. So, he’s going to be a change of pace and will bring a different style.
Steward has pushed hard for and is very much in discussion to earn a fifth star. He shoots the cover off the ball, is fast and can create his own offense. Most importantly, he looks to be a perfect fit to play alongside Roach. As for Williams, the seven-footer is still developing and has to get more confident but has touch, runs well enough and as more of a rebounder and rim protector is a change of pace from guys like Marvin Bagley or Vernon Carey Jr.
John Calipari’s Kentucky class is ranked No. 1 and like Duke, they had half of their signees in attendance and they looked to be ready to fill needs.
The Big Blue Nation has been at our heads about shooting guard B.J. Boston’s current ranking all winter long. He’s a five-star, but he’s had a monster year and we’ve been peppered with questions about how he could be ranked outside of the national top 10. I don’t want to give away too much on next week’s rankings updates, but I don’t think we’ll be getting that question much longer.
His Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei squad took a tough loss but Devin Askew was solid. It couldn’t have been easy for a West Coast team to travel across the country and play a 9 AM game on the East Coast but he showed up. He’s strong, has feel and what I’ve also noticed is that he will rebound the ball.
Lance Ware is a different kind of big guy from their last few classes. He’s got nonstop energy and is a lean athlete who really gets after it on the glass and runs the floor. Isaiah Jackson wasn’t at the Hoophall, but he and Ware are greyhounds who can run together.
Will Wade and the Tigers class currently ranks No. 24 overall and two of their three commits -- Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill teammates Cameron Thomas and Bradley Ezewiro -- were on hand. Plus, four-star Mwani Wilkinson for whom they are a finalist was in attendance.
Simply put, Thomas is a flat out bucket getter. Long armed and quick, he loves to let it fly from deep and can get to his spots off the bounce. His mentality is SEC ready and he gives them a ready to score option as soon as he's on campus. As for Ezewiro, if you see him you would assume he's signed to play football in Baton Rouge. The kid is put together like a big time defensive end and he plays with lots of physicality and he's explosive off the floor. At about 6-foot-7 he's not the tallest post, but he makes up for it with his toughness.
Then there's Wilkinson a freaky athletic 6-foot-5 forward from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman who is a four-star senior. He's active all over and has LSU in his top four with UNLV, USC and Vanderbilt.
Juwan Howard and Michigan are a hot name on the recruiting trail and the proof is in their No. 4 ranked class. 75% of the class was on hand in big man Hunter Dickinson, combo guard Zeb Jackson and forward Terrence Williams.
A massive seven-footer Dickinson is a space eater with a nasty side and soft touch. He impressively outplayed the current No. 1 player in the country Evan Mobley, even after a slight injury to himself early in the game. His edge and competitive fire are made for the Big Ten.
Jackson plays on one of the best high school teams I've ever seen and even as good as he is, playing time can be limited. For the first time in four times seeing him play this season I got to see him play extended minutes and Monday and he looked great. He's bouncy, he can get to the rim and he's a streak shooter with some playmaking ability. He may need some time to adjust physically, but he's got some very good upside.
Originally committed to Georgetown, Williams didn't have his best outing but has proven to be a shot making combo forward in the past. His toughness cannot be questioned.
Roy Williams and an assistant spent a good amount of time in Springfield checking on their future players. They weren't able to see four-star guard R.J. Davis' game but they did check in on four-star wing Puff Johnson and five-star big man Day'Ron Sharpe.
As expected and as he's been all year long, Sharpe was a total monster in the lane. He is rugged, he is big and he has some skill facing out to 12 feet. He can run well enough to fit with the way the Heels want to play and he will for sure help to upgrade the overall toughness in Chapel Hill.
North Carolina is in desperate need of guys to help stretch the floor and that's what they are hoping for in Davis and Johnson. Unfortunately Johnson went down with a minor injury early in his Phoenix (Ariz.) Hillcrest team's blowout loss to Bel Aire (Kans.) Sunrise Christian so I didn't get to see how he is progressing. As for Davis, there is no question he can score and he's wired to do so. He didn't make deep jumpers like usual, but was crafty with getting himself to open spots on the floor. Ideally, he plays alongside a playmaking point guard and he's cut out of the Markus Howard/Myles Powell mold of scorer.
Springer actually hit the floor twice and showed off his ability to score tough buckets in one of them. In the other he met his match in 2020's No. 2 ranked player Cade Cunninhgam and Cunningham made it tough for Springer to score like he usually does. However, what should be pointed out was that Springer made Cunningham work every bit as hard to score. Springer's physical defense is going to be just as welcomed by Rick Barnes as his offense.
As for Walker Jr., he's a solid inside/out forward with some skill and feel for making plays out of the high post. I'm sure the plan will be to try and develop him in a way similar to what they have done with other tweeners that they've turned into major success stories like Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams.