Rivals Roundtable: Does the early signing period need change?
This week in the Rivals Roundtable, national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald are talking early signing period. More specifically, does it need any change? What miss could come back to haunt a program and then looking ahead, which recruitment will be most important heading into the late period?
1. Has the early signing period gotten stale and needs change?
Bossi: So, I’ve been covering signing days for longer than any high school player who signed this week has been alive. I’ve got some perspective here. This early signing period has been hands down the most vanilla and unsurprising period ever. To heck with Sriracha, there was no hint of spice this time around. So, yes, I do think things could be changed a bit.
Players should be able to sign the moment they commit if that’s what they want to do. Really, though, with the number of decommits we see each spring due to job changes, I’d be even more in favor of eliminating the early signing period altogether and then pushing spring back a week or two to give new staffs time to try and recruit and kids who are left without coaching staffs time to really explore their options.
Evans: I talked about it within my Three-Point Play article on Thursday but, while I get all of the excitement from fan bases and the prospects that are set to sign, there really is not a whole lot that takes place that we don’t foresee happening. This is not like in football where a commitment really isn’t a commitment, if you can say such a thing. More times than not, whenever a basketball prospect commits prior to the early signing period, a signing immediately takes place when the early period opens.
Want to juice things up? Just entirely get rid of the signing periods and, whenever a prospect who enters his junior year commits, he can immediately sign. It would make for a whole lot less decommitments and add more value into what an offer really means.
McDonald: Once you have dabbled in the world of football recruiting like I have, basketball recruiting during the signing period is mostly anticlimactic. You don't see kids flipping commitments out of nowhere. Most kids make commitments before the signing period starts and sign with the school they previously chose. Schools generally don't recruit committed prospects, which eliminates a lot of the craziness that takes place in football.
There is a part of me that wishes more coaches would recruit committed players and throw out the unwritten rule against doing so. It would stir up some drama in the sport and make my life more interesting from a completely selfish standpoint. I also don't understand why more coaches don't. You have limited spots to begin with and one or two prospects can change the course of your program.
2. Which early signing period miss will haunt a program?
Bossi: I will go with Oregon missing out on Scottie Barnes as I felt he was the Ducks best chance to land a difference-maker. Dana Altman loves to have long, athletic and interchangeable players who are capable of playing multiple positions and that’s exactly what Barnes would have given them. Florida State is certainly a good fit for him and it is much closer to home than Oregon, but it’s tough to miss out on a player when you prioritize him for as long as the Ducks did. It’s also tougher when the player had called you his dream school.
Evans: I guess you can say Nimari Burnett from an optics standpoint. Upon Alabama's hiring of Nate Oats in the spring, the belief was that he and his staff were going to go out and absolutely kill it on the recruiting trail. They snagged Jahvon Quinerly from the transfer portal, which was a win.
However, they targeted Burnett immediately and were the believed leader or co-leader throughout so, to walk away as the runner-up, is a blow. Not that he was a major, major need where the frontcourt remains the biggest area of work which is why Isaiah Jackson and Keon Ambrose-Hylton are so important to the immediate success of the program.
McDonald: Louisville's search for a point guard didn't go so well during the early signing period. The Cardinals were in the mix for and even thought to be very strong for Caleb Love, Deivon Smith and Devin Askew but missed on all three. Smith is the one that will likely sting the most because Louisville had the lead on him going into his visit.
3. Looking ahead, who is the biggest must-get in the spring?
Bossi: Jalen Green for Memphis. After landing 2019’s No. 1 class, Penny Hardaway and the Tigers don’t have much to show for 2020. Now, they’ve got a fight with the NCAA over James Wiseman to deal with on top of their need to find more good players? Yikes. That’s a lot to deal with and makes landing a game changer like Green even more important.
Evans: Greg Brown for Texas. Not only is Brown a game-changing type of athlete that is going to put plenty of people into their seats, but he also would be a tremendous recruiting win for Shaka Smart in keeping the local talent home for college. The Longhorns look promising this season and if they do bring back every one of importance next year that they expect, plus, throw in Brown who is the ideal forward for Smart’s ideal style of basketball, UT’s ceiling is raised immensely and, on paper, would look to be the best roster that Smart has ever had in Austin.
McDonald: I'll go with Josh Christopher for UCLA. Pairing him in the backcourt with Daishen Nix would be a pretty nice start to Mick Cronin's tenure in Westwood. The Bruins have some momentum in this one, but it could be a while before they get a final answer.