Three-Point Play: Early Signing Period, Memphis, 2019 class
In today's Three-Point Play, Rivals analyst Corey Evans discusses the declining importance of the Early Signing Period, the various dynamics at play at Memphis, and the potential of the freshman class.
1. EARLY SIGNING PERIOD LOSING ITS LUSTER
The Early Signing Period is overrated. There, I said it. I am not trying to diminish the day, or may I say, the week, for the prospects themselves, but there's not much there for the fans. The Early Signing Period offers very little drama or excitement because in college basketball, a verbal commitment almost always leads to a signature.
This is way different than it is in football, and it is not fair to even compare the two. Remember, we rarely even see committed basketball prospects take official visits to other programs, let alone decommit and sign with another team. There is little to no suspense about whether a selective prospect will sign.
How do we change the process? Or do we have to change the process at all? The signing period is not broken but wouldn’t the value of a commitment be bumped a few notches if, whenever someone commits, they could immediately sign?
2. ANOTHER LAYER TO THE MEMPHIS STORYLINE
Earlier this fall, I said that Memphis would be the most intriguing story of the college season but even I didn’t expect the James Wiseman situation to blow up like it has. For those that missed it, Wiseman was momentarily ruled ineligible before he and Memphis asked for and receive a temporary injunction that allows Wiseman to continue playing this season.
Wiseman is the type of prospect that can single-handedly change the complexion of any game. He practically defeated South Carolina State and UIC by himself and, when the fouls weren’t going against him, created havoc against Oregon. Questions will continue to revolve around whether Wiseman will suit up the entire season but his NBA Draft stock will remain strong regardless.
However, I wanted to take a look at what the Tigers’ potential is with and without Wiseman. With him, they are arguably the most talented team in America. Despite starting five freshmen, the Tigers, at full billing, have a chance at March stardom.
Without Wiseman, Memphis' ceiling might be lower, but the team could still find success with a small ball lineup featuring a frontline of D.J. Jeffries, Precious Achiuwa and Lester Quinones. Also, keep an eye on Malcolm Dandridge, who is currently sitting out due to injury, and the eligibility of Isaiah Stokes, who transferred into the program by way of Florida.
A Wiseman-led unit could be national title good, but don’t underestimate the Tigers if they do have to play without their stud center.
3. JURY IS STILL OUT ON THE 2019 CLASS
It was always going to be difficult for the 2019 class to match the spectacle that was Zion Williamson, but the jury is still out on how much NBA-ready talent is in this latest crop of newcomers.
What we are seeing in the early going is what we expected. We might not have been ready for consecutive double-doubles to begin the college career of Cole Anthony, but he was one of the more dominant guard prospects that we have seen over the past five years.
We also knew that James Wiseman was a capable paint destroyer that was nearly unstoppable when his motor was in high gear. The same goes for Isaiah Stewart. We knew that Anthony Edwards is a bucket getter, that Cassius Stanley is a high flyer, that Jaden McDaniels boasts remarkable upside and that Jeremiah Robinson-Earl possesses a very polished skillset.
If the 2019 class really wants to prove us wrong, then such statement performances have to become the norm, and others such as Kahlil Whitney, Scottie Lewis, C.J. Walker and Will Baker have to pick things up.