Rivals Roundtable: Duke's class, 2020 prospects, NBA rookies
The basketball gang of Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald is back with their weekly Roundtable. This week they take a look at how Duke’s top ranked recruiting class compares to classes of the past, 2020 prospects who will become household names by spring and some hot takes on NBA rookies.
1. With the addition of Mark Williams, how does this Duke class compare to their past classes?
Bossi: This class is much different than top Duke classes of the past in that I don’t think it will have a bunch of one-and-done guys. This isn’t going to be like the 2014 class where they had to replace Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow or 2018’s class that saw R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish and Zion Williamson all bounce after a season.
Yes, Jalen Johnson is a legit one-and-done candidate, but the rest of the guys in the class project as multi year collegians. Long term, it benefits the Blue Devils and puts them in a position to have something they’ve not had in recent years, veteran leadership. Also, it begins to prepare the program for a few years down the road when many of the types of players they have been relying on will likely be heading straight to the NBA instead of college.
Evans: There is no transcendent talent, so it probably best resembles the class that it just enrolled, a group that is strong top-to-bottom, but one that is lacking for a Jabari Parker, Kyrie Irving or Williamson.
Although it is the top-rated class in America, it is more reliant on the sum of all parts rather than one singular talent. Johnson should be great in Durham, but who else from the 2020 group could you see leaving after one year? Maybe Jeremy Roach, but even that is a reach especially with him just returning from an ACL injury. It may lack for star power, but it should also infuse a handful of multiple-year college producers next fall.
McDonald: It's not the same level of star power and it's probably not the same type of instant impact as some of the recent classes, but it's still a really good class. Roach will make life easier for the rest of the team as he's a really good facilitator. D.J. Steward is a really talented scorer and will thrive playing off Roach. The Blue Devils needed some depth in the front-court and did just that by adding a few highly ranked big men.
2. What 2020 player who hasn't been discussed much will be a household name by the spring signing period?
Bossi: This is an easy one for me. Temple (Texas) College freshman Carlton Linguard. Virtually unrecruited out of high school in San Antonio, Linguard is a slim 6-foot-10’ish big man who can really run the floor. He blocks shots at a high level, he is a good rebounder and best of all he has touch on his shot and some range.
He’s still a little raw and has to get stronger, but given the lack of available big men out there, a guy like Linguard with a year of juco experience is going to become a major target.
Already programs like Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oregon, St. John’s, TCU, Texas A&M, and more are keeping close tabs on the four-star prospect who will have three years of eligibility after this season.
Evans: I discussed him last week in the Three-Point Play and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike Miles begins to be discussed much more frequently this winter. Miles did say that he wanted to sign early, but chances are slim seeing that he has just taken one official visit thus far.
There is already a giant dearth of available point guards with less than two weeks until the early signing period begins. If he waits, supply-and-demand would only equate to an even greater need for someone like Miles come the spring. Clemson, DePaul, Ole Miss, Pitt and TCU are among his suitors right now; that list should expand during his senior season if he does decide to wait things out.
McDonald: I could see Kario Oquendo being a popular name in the spring. He's a really good athlete with size and toughness on the wing. I see him having a really strong senior season and attracting interest from programs all over the country in search of some perimeter depth.
3. Give me a hot take on NBA rookies two weeks into the season.
Bossi: Everybody can see that Cameron Reddish has gotten off to a really slow start with the Atlanta Hawks. The Duke product is starting, but averaging just 5.2 points per game on 21% shooting (just 5.6% from three) from the field.
I still firmly believe that he has all the tools to be a very good NBA player and I’m not going to get all crazy over five games, but I do think a stint in the G Leauge would be good for his long term development. Look, the NBA wastes little time chewing up and spitting out young players who don’t produce and the fact is Reddish has always been somewhat of a tease whose numbers (particularly shooting percentages) don’t always quite match up to his talent and gifts.
A game or two to get focused, hit hard in the face that this is real and to hopefully see the ball go in the hoop a few times would do wonders. I love what Hawks are building and want to see Reddish make the most of his ability and really feel an early shock to the system would do him wonders.
Evans: Jaxson Hayes will lead the league in field goal percentage within the next five years. I mean, the Pelicans rookie has the chance to do it this season with the pace that he is on and while it is on a small sample size, making over 80% of his shots from the floor against NBA opposition is more than impressive.
Yes, the majority of his shots come within five-feet of the basket but Hayes understands what he does best. He is already one of the best rim-running, lob-catching centers in the NBA. If he remains in the frenetic offense that Alvin Gentry employs, gets stronger, has shooters consistently placed around him and takes advantage of the attention Williamson will be afforded by defenses when he returns, we should expect Hayes to be nudging elbows with DeAndre Jordan and Clint Capella for who is the most efficient scoring big man in the game.
McDonald: Williamson's injury has been a little bit of a buzz kill for the rookie class, but how about what Kendrick Nunn is doing for the Heat? He's always been a bucket-getter, but I don't think anybody saw him averaging 22.4 points in his first five NBA games. He's been incredible and looks like a guy that will make over $100 million in the NBA.