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Rivals Roundtable: Five-stars under pressure; Mac McClung's next stop

Cade Cunningham
Cade Cunningham (Jon Lopez/Jon Lopez Creative @NikeEYB)

This week in the Rivals Roundtable national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald are talking pressure to perform. Which of 2020’s five-stars will be under the most and who will have the least? Also, just how good is Georgetown transfer Mac McClung?

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1. Which program can least afford for its 2020 five-star to not live up to his billing?

Bossi: The most obvious choice is at the top with Cade Cunningham, but go ahead and give me Caleb Love at North Carolina. The Heels are coming off of a dreadful season and freshman point guard Cole Anthony is gone. Hopes are high that Love and the rest of his No. 3 ranked recruiting class can restore order in Chapel Hill.

He’s a talent with size, length and athleticism but he’s also played as much off the ball as he has on it during high school and it doesn’t look like he’s going to get the benefit of a summer on campus. The opportunity for major minutes are there and UNC could very well go how Love goes as a freshman.

Evans: That is an easy one…it has to be Cunningham. Not only is he the No. 1 prospect in the 2020 class, but the expectations placed on his shoulders are as great as anyone will see next fall. We are talking about a 6-foot-7 lead guard that is expected to turn the tides in Stillwater and not only make Oklahoma State a winning outfit in the Big 12, but also one that could fight for second weekend status in the NCAA Tournament.

Mike Boynton has yet to make the NCAA tournament and I do believe next year he will get the monkey off his back thanks to the enrollment of Cunningham and a top-five recruiting class. That, along with a strong returning core that boasts Isaac Likekele and the Boone brothers will help. But, if Cunningham doesn’t achieve the extraordinary the first day that he steps foot onto campus, the Pokes’ ceiling for success is lowered a number of levels.

McDonald: I agree with Corey. Cunningham comes in with enormous expectations at Oklahoma State as the top prospect in the 2020 class. If the Cowboys are going to have any chance of competing for one of the top spots in the Big 12 and making a run in the NCAA Tournament, he'll need to be a star and grow up quickly.

2. Which 2020 five-star is under the least pressure?

Bossi: It’s actually the tandem of Tennessee-bound five-stars Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson. Don’t get me wrong, there will be high expectations for Springer (a high scoring, physical two) and Johnson (an electric athlete) during their first year in Knoxville. However, Rick Barnes and the Vols should return enough experienced players and have enough guys around them to allow Springer and Johnson to ease into things. The flip side is that if they are as good as hoped upon arrival, then Tennessee is going to make a serious run at an SEC title and perhaps even a Final Four.

Evans: Duke has a strong group of returners led by Jordan Goldwire, Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore. Freshmen Mark Williams, Jalen Johnson and Jeremy Roach should be ready to go from the start, and while it doesn’t take away from the need for DJ Steward to immediately shine, I cannot think of another five-star that is walking into a better situation with less pressure on his shoulders.

Steward does one thing great and that is make shots. That is the exact type of role that he will be given from the tip and anything else is just a bonus. Going to a place where he will be around several playmakers and asked to do what he is best at should bode well for the Chicago native next fall.

McDonald: I'd go with North Carolina's incoming post players, Day'Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler. With Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot back, there is no rush for those two to be stars in Chapel Hill. If either or both of them need a year to get their feet wet with the college game, the Tar Heels will be just fine.

3. Georgetown's Mac McClung is transferring. Just how good is he and where might he land?

Mac McClung
Mac McClung (AP)

Bossi: I’ve already eaten my crow on Mac McClung, a player with whom I just didn’t see it coming out of high school. He’s proven over and over that there’s much more to his game than mixtape dunks and he is a competitor. I don’t know what happened to make him want to leave Georgetown, but just about any coach in America who has a scholarship available should want him. He puts pressure on defenses, scores in bunches and can of course electrify crowds. A year to sit and further hone his jump shooting and playmaking for others could really make him something else.

Evans: Every program in America should be interested in McClung. While he hopes to play immediately in the fall and I am not sure which grounds he actually stands on that would ultimately receive such a waiver but, either way, if a high-major has an open scholarship, they should be involved.

Sure, he needs to become a better shooter and take better shots, but the athleticism, toughness, and alpha-dog traits are all there with the Virginia native. I am not sure that I buy him as an NBA Draft prospect and he is more of an undersized 2-guard so the right role must be offered but the talent, 49 games of starting experience at a Big East program and hard-working nature are traits that practically any school should want.

McDonald: I agree with Corey and Eric here. If a high major program has a scholarship open, they need to be involved with McClung. Adding an experienced guard who is coming off a season where he averaged almost 16 points per game in the Big East can change a season for some programs. I'm not sure he's an NBA prospect because it's hard to make it as a 6-foot-2 guard who isn't a natural point guard, but I do know he's a really good college player. And for some programs, maybe his high-flying dunks can help sell some tickets.