Roundtable: Pro-ready prospects; next big commit
This week in the Rivals Roundtable, national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald debate which of 2020’s players skipping college is most prepared for the pro lifestyle. What high profile recruit may be closest to committing and which position can coaches least afford to miss on their priority target?
1. Which of the nine Rivals150 players from 2020 who are skipping college is the most prepared, and who most needed a year of college?
Bossi: Not only is 2020’s No. 2 ranked player Jalen Green the highest ranked player going the professional route, he is the most prepared. A slithery shooting guard who can create his own shot off the dribble who has elite level athleticism, everything he does translates to the pro game. He’s got to get stronger, but in terms of approach, mental makeup and everything else, he has been very professional for some time now.
To answer the other side of the question, I’d have loved to see Marjon Beauchamp go to college. He’s a gifted talent, but he did a lot of transferring in high school and hasn’t ever really been coached or truly integrated into a team. College could have been invaluable to his maturation process.
Evans: Green is the most prepared just because he is the most talented of the bunch and has been gearing up for this decision since his high school career began. Now, that does nothing to minimize the target on his back for being the first to pick the G League select program. He also has a lot of work to do in the physicality department. But, thanks to his overall abilities, he should have the least amount of issues while skipping the college platform.
Someone who I would have liked to attend college is Isaiah Todd. The five-star forward is immensely talented and there is a reason why he was in the running for the No. 1 ranking in his class as an underclassman. However, he needs to refine various portions of his game that someone like Juwan Howard would have been perfect to do. Todd should find a way to make it, but the college route might have been best.
McDonald: I also think Jalen Green is probably the most ready for the opportunity. His game will translate well and he has the size and athleticism to improve quickly in the G-League. The one I think could have used some time in college is Isaiah Todd. Playing for Juwan Howard for a couple years would have been really good for him in my opinion.
2. Which top 50 player in the 2021 Rivals150 is closest to committing?
Bossi: Matthew Cleveland. After some eye-opening play during June and July, the explosive 6-foot-6 wing cut his list to Florida State, Kansas, Michigan, N.C. State and Stanford. There could be some time for things to change, but word is that Leonard Hamilton and the Seminoles are emerging as pretty healthy favorites here and I could see a commitment coming sooner than later.
Evans: There have been tons of rumblings of late surrounding Kennedy Chandler. I would be surprised if his decision is not made within the next 30 days. If that is the case, then Tennessee will be celebrating. Defeating a handful of blue bloods along with the local Memphis program is big not just in the optics category, but also in that Chandler is one of the more polished lead guards that the high school game will have produced within the past five years. With Chandler in tow, he now becomes the Vols' top recruiter which could help them even further in their pursuit of Paolo Banchero and Jabari Smith.
McDonald: Usually when a prospect cuts a long list of schools down to five or less, I start to think a decision might not be too far away. That's why I'm also going with Matthew Cleveland here. If this goes down soon, I like Florida State's chances. Leonard Hamilton and assistant coach Charlton Young have prioritized him for a while now, hosted him on campus multiple times, and I'm told Florida State's criminal justice program is exactly what he's looking for academically. If you're looking for a wild card here, keep an eye on Michigan. I'm told they have gained some traction here as well.
3. If you are a college coach, which position are you most worried about putting together a Plan B or Plan C if you miss out on your primary target?
Bossi: I’m looking at the group of point guards in 2021 and it isn’t the deepest I have ever seen. Programs in need of ball-handlers had better lock in early and make sure that they don’t miss out on their top target because if they do, things could get difficult. Normally I’m a big proponent of finding your guy and going all in for him. With this year’s point guards, though, I’d be making sure that I’ve identified my potential backup plans very early.
I’d also be recruiting them like a priority guy just in case I need to turn to them because the pickings will be slim for those trying to scramble and recover should they miss out on their top pick.
Evans: The 2021 class may be down compared to prior and upcoming classes but there is some depth and talent on the wings and with small ball power forwards. There are questions regarding the lead guard spot, but things are even more dire at the center position. Thankfully, Micawber Etienne, Franck Kepnang and Efton Reid decided to remain in the 2021 class or things could have gotten way worse.
Already, nearly half of the top dozen or so centers have committed and it is difficult to find 20 potential centers that could immediately impact a high major. If one is to miss on an Etienne, Kepnang or Reid, well, maybe holding that scholarship until the spring or going the transfer route would be best compared to reaching on something that just is not there.
McDonald: I think it's going to be difficult year to land a quality point guard. I don't see a ton of them in the 2021 class towards the top of the rankings. This could be problematic for the second tier schools because the elite programs will likely lock up the few highly ranked floor generals on the market.