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Rivals Roundtable: Looking beyond the five-stars

This week in the Rivals Roundtable, Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald are looking beyond the five-stars. Which non five-stars are most essential to recruiting, which are the best gets and more in their weekly discussion.

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2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

1. Which non-five-star is the most critical for a program to land in 2020?

Adam Miller
Adam Miller (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Bossi: I’m cutting it as close to possible with the non five-star part here, but it has to be combo guard Adam Miller for Illinois. The 2020 class has been one that Illini fans have been keeping a close eye on and to miss out on an in-state prospect, with whom they have several ties to, would be a tough pill for Brad Underwood and his staff to swallow. Forget the ties, the dude can really play and would be an instant impact on both ends of the floor. He’s as “must get’ a player as there is in the country, for any program.

Evans:I think just from an optics view, Illinois' recruitment of Miller is crucial to the short and long-term success of the program. The Illini sit in a great spot for Andre Curbelo and he would be a good replacement for Ayo Dosunmu after this season. However, Illinois fans have clamored for the best from the state to stay home for college. Underwood has heard their demands and would like to deliver on Miller. If he can land the top-30 guard, not only would he ease some of the concerns on the home front, but also be a type that can single-handedly carry the Illini thanks to his scoring.

McDonald: Duke needs size in a bad way in the 2020 class. The frontcourt gets pretty thin in Durham after this season with graduation and NBA departures. Whether it's Hunter Dickinson or Mark Williams, the Blue Devils need to land at least one of the two four-star prospects.

2. Which school should be most excited about a 2020 commit outside the top 50?

Devion Smith
Devion Smith (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Bossi: I’m actually going to give two answers here. No. 62 overall P.J. Hall for Clemson and No. 78 overall Jaden Ivey for Purdue.

In Hall, Brad Brownell has landed the highest ranked player of his tenure as head coach. The 6-foot-9 forward is skilled, tough and should be a very good ACC player. Add in that they came from behind to get him and that he’s an in-state kid and you have a statement victory on the recruiting trail that Tigers fans should be juiced about.

As for Ivey and Purdue, he looks like another feather in Matt Painter’s cap when it comes to beating everybody to the punch on an evaluation. Purdue locked in on Ivey early and got him done before the rest of the in-state competitors or anybody else nationally really realized how good he is. Having shot-makers from deep grows more and more important each year and Ivey is one of the very best jump shooters in the 2020 class.

Evans: Junior Cadougan was vitally important for Buzz Williams at Marquette. Then, Justin Robinson was a primary catalyst for his success at Virginia Tech. There is no reason why No. 73 Hassan Diarra cannot be that guy for Williams now that he has taken over at Texas A&M. The Aggies also hold commitments from three-star guards Hayden Hefner and LaDamien Bradford. Diarra is the face of the program type of guy, the playmaker that Williams has relied upon at his previous two coaching stops. A fiery, competitive guard that will not back down from a soul, Aggie fans should be excited for what they have in the New Yorker.

McDonald: I'll go just a couple spots outside the top 50 to No. 52 with Deivon Smith choosing Mississippi State. The Bulldogs needed a quality lead guard and beat out some really good programs to go into Georgia and secure his commitment. He's the type of prospect Ben Howland can put the ball in his hands from day one and feel good about it.

3. Name a player from 2020, 2021 and 2022 who is underranked.

Bossi: In 2020 I’ll go with J.T. Thor with the caveat that it’s on him to produce with some type of consistency. Ranked No. 53 overall, the lean, mobile and athletic 6-foot-9 forward has all of the tools to be a five-star prospect, it’s just a matter of regularly utilizing them.

In 2021, the easy answer for me is Nebraska guard Hunter Sallis. I wrote a few weeks ago that we may have him underrated at No. 48 nationally and after watching him again at USA Basketball a few weeks ago I believe we need to seriously consider moving him to five-star territory.

As for 2022, I haven’t seen No. 41 Jordan Walsh as much as I have some others in the class, but the more I look into him the more I like. From what I’ve been told, he’s now closer to 6’7” than his listed 6’5” and he’s taken a huge leap this fall. College coaches have been raving about him and if he’s anything near what I’m expecting when I see him multiple times in November, he could be on the rise.

Evans: I absolutely love all that No. 82 ranked Eugene Brown can become in due time. There are durability concerns due to a freak leg injury last year but 6-foot-6, long and athletic wings that can really shoot it will always find a place in the sport. Ohio State has a member of the class of 2020 who could really blossom in the coming years.

In 2021, Manny Obaseki has a chance to finish out as a five-star, top-25 prospect. I saw him earlier this fall and it just confirmed my beliefs that he has the ‘it’ factor. Arkansas, Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas A&M are the programs most involved with Obaseki who could be under ranked at No. 41 nationally.

Staying in the state of Texas, Tre White could be even better than his current No. 37 ranking in the class of 2022. While some question his upside and just how good he can become, I see a skilled, versatile and smart wing that is becoming more athletic by the day. Kansas did great work locking him up early on.

McDonald: In 2020, I'd say Isaiah Jackson. I love his combination of size, athleticism and skill. He has as much upside as any post player in the 2020 class.

Bryce McGowens in the 2021 class could be somebody we see earn a higher ranking over the next 18 months. He's a really good shooter from deep and, again, I like his length and athleticism for the position.

For 2022, I've been banging the drum pretty hard in rankings discussions for Bruce Thornton. He's everything you could ask for in a point guard. He's a strongly built 6-foot-2, but still a good enough athlete to get by and also defend quicker guards. He thinks pass first, but he's a more than capable scorer.