Rivals Roundtable: Prospects we're eager to see, 2022 sleepers, Mike Miller
This week in the Rivals Roundtable, national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald have plenty to discuss. Which 2021 prospects are they looking forward to seeing? Which 2022 player should be a household name? And, how big of a loss is Mike Miller for Memphis?
2022 Rankings: Top 75
1. Which 2021 player are you most excited to see if grassroots basketball resumes?
Bossi: It was last spring when Texas big man Daimion Collins first burst onto the scene as an unknown, skinny and athletic big man who had promise. Since then has been showing some touch on jump hooks and ability to drive from the foul line on top of his lob finishing, rebounding and shot blocking. Has he taken the next step? How far away is he from hitting another level? I’d like to know.
Georgia, Kansas and LSU are his most recent offers while Arkansas, Houston, Texas A&M along with most of the Big 12 in Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech have offered. He’s seen Arkansas, Houston and Texas and if I had to pick an early favorite, I would lean to Texas.
Evans: Am I taking the cop-out route by saying Jon Kuminga? We have placed him on a pedestal, so just getting the chance to see how good and dominant he might be, along with the physical progressions that he has made through the school season, would be intriguing enough.
Auburn, Duke, Kentucky and Texas Tech are in the mix, with the G League route heavily in the picture. Auburn and Texas Tech are the schools to beat, but the avenue that might have the greatest chance seems to be the pro route.
McDonald: I'd say newly-minted four-star prospect James White. I watched his last game of the high school season and saw bits and pieces of his games before that and he's clearly a talented scorer on the wing. I really wanted to see him play this summer to see if he could continue to put up the great numbers he put up during high school season. He's recently added offers from Alabama and Georgia to go along with Florida and Florida State. I get tons of questions on him from coaches looking forward to seeing him, so I wouldn't be surprised if that list grows.
2. What 2022 player is not as well-known as his ranking would suggest?
Bossi: I’m going to stick in the state of Texas and go with five-star point guard Arterio Morris of Dallas Kimball. His 6-foot-4 size, toughness, athleticism and ability to play fast in control will make him a big name. People in Texas know how good he is. Arkansas, Kansas, Oregon, SMU, Stephen F. Austin, TCU, Texas A&M and Texas Tech have offered him scholarships. Once the rest of the country sees him up close, they’ll understand too.
Evans: I am going to follow Bossi here and remain in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and go even higher in the top-25 and choose Keyonte George. We all know about Emoni Bates, Jalen Duren, Chris Livingston, Caleb Houstan and so forth, but George is built in a similar cloth, though not spoken of as often. His time will come thanks to his tremendous size, explosiveness and takeover prowess at the lead guard position.
From the recruiting end, things have remained stagnant for the past few months in which his latest offer was from Kansas back in February. Baylor, Ole Miss, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M have also offered but it would appear that things won’t really take off until his junior year begins, though I do expect for a plethora of phone calls to be placed to him beginning on June 15.
McDonald: I'd say Derrian Ford here. More often than not guys like him that don't play on traditional power travel teams -- though he would have played in the EYBL with Team Thad this summer -- can fly under the radar early on in the process, but Ford has come on strong with offers lately. Kansas jumped in with a scholarship offer and joined Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Baylor, Florida, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and several others. I wouldn't be surprised given his ability to score and be a well-rounded player if more bluebloods come into the picture.
3. What does the loss of assistant coach Mike Miller mean to Memphis?
Bossi: At the end of the day the guy with his own shoe, Penny Hardaway, is going to be the face and top draw for Memphis basketball but losing Miller is big. I know that Memphis' 2020 recruiting class didn’t pan out quite as it hoped for. But, Miller was a big part of every aspect of the program and believe me when I tell you that he is about as popular with prospects as any assistant I can remember in some time. Talk to kids and families about assistants that they feel they connected and comfortable with and Miller’s name comes up as often as any other non-head coach in America. It will be interesting to see what route the Tigers go to replace him. By the way, Miller’s son Mason Miller is a four-star prospect in the class of 2021 and it will be interesting to see how his recruitment plays out.
Evans: No assistant coach is bigger than any program, but the loss of Miller is a giant, giant blow to Memphis. Miller was the primary recruiter for Boogie Ellis, Lester Quinones, and Precious Achiuwa. He was also a tremendous skill development coach on the floor and helped Hardaway orchestrate a defense that was among the best in the game last year.
Plus, Miller’s departure makes it a bit more difficult to see his son picking the Tigers. Hardaway is still Hardaway at the end of the day and the fact that he is pitching such a strong and recognizable brand and has a quality coaching staff to rely upon should help, but that doesn’t do anything to shrink the hole that the former NBA vet will leave on the Memphis bench.
McDonald: It depends on who his replacement is honestly. I had always heard good things about his work identifying players and building relationships with recruits. If Hardaway can get another quality assistant, I don't think it's going to have much of an impact, at least from a recruiting standpoint. I've long been a believer that the head coach is most important in the recruiting process.