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Rivals Roundtable: What to make of commitment frenzy

Players from the class of 2021 are committing at a never-before-seen pace. What do national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald think of the trend? They discuss that and more in this weekend’s Rivals Roundtable.


MORE: Coaches discuss challenges of evaluating via livestreams | Ranking the Contenders: Jalen Warley

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

2022 Rankings: Top 75


1. Does it make sense for so many players to be committing so early? Which of the most recent commitments do you see as the best fit?

Malaki Branham
Malaki Branham (Jon Lopez, Nike)

Bossi: So far, 62 players from the 2021 Rivals150 have committed. At the same time last year, only 28 from the class of 2020 had done so. For top-end players being chased by great programs that will wait on them, I don’t really see why there is such a rush. Especially when they can’t even take visits at this point. However, for the most part, commitments have been pretty regional so we have to factor in some kids seeing a pandemic, the uncertainty that it causes and deciding to end things because they have a comfort level.

Of the past week’s commitments, I like the potential fit of Jordan Riley who committed to Georgetown on Friday. The Hoyas could really use his athleticism on the perimeter and he’s a great complement to fellow Rivals150 guard Tyler Beard.

Evans: I don’t get it, to tell you the truth, and neither do a number of coaches that I have spoken with in recent weeks. I do understand that prospects want to beat others to the lone offer which is more of a first come, first serve situation. But others are being scared into committing by worries that schools could move on or they’ve been told that a scholarship could be used on a transfer in the spring if they wait any longer. Others have just been exhausted by the process.

End of the day, to each their own, and with Jordan Longino in mind, he’s perfectly suited for Villanova. First off, his intangibles are off the charts. He is an awesome kid that has the size but also the ball skills to play all three spots along the perimeter which is crucial under Jay Wright’s watch. I am not sure how great he can be but he will definitely be an immediate shot in the arm.

McDonald: For prospects in the 2021 class, it makes sense to me if they have already been on campus at the school and been around the players and coaches in the program. If it were me or somebody I was involved with, I wouldn’t advise a decision at this point if you can’t check those boxes. The one commitment that really stands out to me recently is Malaki Branham to Ohio State. He could have fit in at any of the schools on his list, but there is always something special about a prospect staying home and representing the in-state school. He’s going to be a really good player for the Buckeyes.


2. The NBA (in a bubble) is back. Which player that was highly ranked in high school are you hoping shows the world why you thought so highly of him?

Anfernee Simons (right)
Anfernee Simons (right) (USA TODAY)

Bossi: I’m loving the return of the NBA. I’m also loving that the scrimmages and likely some of the early games will give us a look at some promising rookies and former stars. Finally getting to see Bol Bol was a lot of fun. Look, he’s got a long way to go and will never be very bulky but even in a scrimmage you can see his unusual combination of size, length, skill and shot-blocking ability. He was the talk of social media early this week after his first game with the Nuggets and could be a lot of fun to watch develop if he’s able to get some legitimate backup minutes for the rest of the season.

Evans: I am hoping that two Portland Trail Blazers get going, Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little. Simons has not had the type of year that many had assumed after his breakout NBA Summer League but there is a chance to show the world just how talented he is in the coming days. Little, on the other hand, is battling a concussion but has started for stretches throughout the early season. With the return of the Blazers’ entire frontline, there is a chance that quality minutes will be difficult to come by. Either way, if one or both get the opportunity and confidence is in tow, there is no doubt that Simons and Little have the abilities to show that world why we thought so highly of them during their prep days.

McDonald: Jonathan Isaac has steadily improved during his three years with the Magic. With the talent he possesses, there is another level he can get to as an NBA players. He can make the jump from 12 points per game to somewhere above 15 points per game. He’s still just 22 years old and still filling out his 6-foot-11 frame, but he has everything you could ask for in an NBA forward – size, skill and athleticism.


3. States are starting to release plans for 2020-21 that are major departures from the usual high school sports schedule. How big will the impact be on high school basketball?

Bossi: We still need to see what happens across the country, but I’m telling you right now that prep schools that don’t belong to state organizations are absolutely licking their chops right now. As we have seen with summer ball, there are going to be programs that play regardless of what might be out there and there will be kids that want to play with them. We could be on the verge of seeing a winter of basketball that is very similar to what we usually see in the summer with grassroots teams. I won’t be at all surprised to see prospects playing with different programs. I used to kind of joke about it, but I can bet that there is somebody out there right now trying to figure out the high school equivalent of the NBA’s bubble.

Evans: Humongous. It is a bit comparable to what we are seeing on the travel circuit; some have been playing for months, others are just returning to the floor and the rest will not suit up at all. To see that California and the state of Washington won’t get going until much later in the year, if at all, compared with some of the southern states that will stick to their original schedules, at least for the time being. It will be interesting to see how college programs evaluate the class of 2021 especially during the late fall and around the early signing period when a few are hoping to scratch out commitments.

What it could also mean and likely will is that programs will be less willing to sign such large classes in the fall, but rather wait until the spring so that they can get a better evaluation of prospects and of those that may have a tardy start on the season. There is no right or wrong answer for how separate high school federations are planning their seasons and how programs are maneuvering their scholarship count for future years but it does look as if the uncertain times are not going to stop anytime soon.

McDonald: The biggest impact will be felt in states where the high school gets pushed back to the spring semester like it did in California. This will result in prospects having to make the tough decision on whether to play with their high school team or play with their travel team during March, April and May when the seasons will have some overlap.