Basketball Recruiting - Wednesday's Mailbag: Season outlook; Michigan; UNC
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Wednesday's Mailbag: Season outlook; Michigan; UNC

JD Davison
JD Davison (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Another round of questions brings us to this edition of Wednesday’s Mailbag. We're inching ever closer to September with the Early Signing Period and, hopefully, the start of the college season. This week, analyst Corey Evans addresses whether there will be games this winter, Michigan's chances with JD Davison, North Carolina’s pursuit of a five-star shooter and much more.

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2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

2022 Rankings: Top 75

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This is no insider info regarding the inner workings of the NCAA and NABC. No one knows what decision they’re going to come to during their planned meeting next month. But I would say that any games played prior to Thanksgiving would be because of:
a) major developments in testing and/or a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.
b) a decrease in positive tests of the virus.
c) a rather aggressive approach for playing and traveling in light of the pandemic.

Some think the college season could begin once the Thanksgiving break begins and the regular student populations leave campus, creating a bubble of sorts. While that sounds good, I have a hard time believing a non-conference portion of the season will begin, at least if there are no fans in attendance. There is practically no reason to play games if gate receipts can't be collected. Potentially, various preseason events like the Maui Invitational, Jimmy V. Classic or cross-conference events like the ACC-Big Ten Challenge could be played, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

One idea could be to just move the beginning of the season from the beginning of November to the beginning of January and having the NCAA Tournament start in May, creating May Madness. There was some worry regarding potential draft prospects pulling out for the season - similar to what we are seeing in college football right now. But with the NBA’s intention to now start the season in January (or even as late as March), that would lead to a pushed-back 2021-2022 NBA season the following year. In that case, maybe a complete college season could take place with fans in attendance during conference play, if such games were to begin in March and end in late April.

The most likely scenario is for the season to begin during the break between semesters or after the new year, with a schedule that features conference-only games. That would allow around 20 games to be played by each school, regardless of league affiliation. Whether those are played on campus or at various pod/bubble settings remains to be seen. Ruling out the conference tournaments altogether is another route that could be considered.

Fewer games correlates with less of a chance that the virus hits the sport, though leagues and their respective networks are going to want to generate as much money as they can.

From there, maybe we have all 68 teams, or maybe a curtailed bracket that brings 64 or (dare I say it?) 32 or even 16 teams to the home of the Final Four in Indianapolis in March. That tournament could then be played in a bubble, similar to what we saw with The Basketball Tournament earlier this summer, with losers leaving the area immediately. This would lead to a quicker and cleaner situation for all involved. A national champion could be crowned while generating cash that the NCAA and its members had to leave on the table this past March when the pandemic forced the cancellation of the tournament.

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There's no publicity stunt here. Michigan was one of JD Davison’s dream schools growing up. That doesn’t mean the Wolverines have much of a chance, however, because they are trailing the other five schools on his list when it comes to securing his commitment.

The other schools consist of Alabama, Auburn, Kansas, LSU and Memphis. I think that it comes down to the two in-state schools, Alabama and Auburn, and LSU, which holds my FutureCast prediction for him.

Michigan has three perimeter commitments already, but the Wolverines would be entirely fine if Davison - on a whim - committed to them. The Wolverines need a true center that can hold down the fort along the interior and a complete home run pick-up in the mold of Davison. Their chances are slim, but at least they made the cut. There is still time in his recruitment, which might be just what Juwan Howard needs in order to make Davison’s childhood dream a reality.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH MICHIGAN FANS AT THEWOLVERINE.COM

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Good question, Ty. I’m guessing that you’re a Carolina fan, so I wish this part of my answer would be more to your liking, but I give the Tar Heels very little chance with Pat Baldwin, despite Paolo Banchero's commitment to Duke last week. That doesn’t mean that UNC hasn’t invested the proper time in recruiting Baldwin, but rather that Banchero’s decision has very little impact on whether Baldwin chooses UNC. The two players would only make each other better, so Duke is the team to beat. If he doesn’t pick the blueblood program it will be because it was too difficult to decline the chance to play for his dad at Milwaukee.

It is not all bad news for UNC. Caleb Houstan is someone that the Heels have heavily recruited in recent months. Houstan is a former high school teammate of incoming freshman Day’Ron Sharpe, and North Carolina is a school to watch for in the Canadian's recruitment. A handful of other national powers are involved, too, including Alabama, Arizona, Gonzaga, Michigan and Oregon. And while Houstan is one of the few players on Duke’s recruiting board, UNC is in a better spot for the premier shot-maker.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH NORTH CAROLINA FANS AT TARHEELILLUSTRATED.COM

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I spoke with Efton Reid last week, and he doesn’t appear to be in much of a rush with his commitment. Rather, he is spending his last few days at home in Richnond, Va., around his friends and trying to get a few fish to bite before he leaves for IMG Academy.

That just shows the attention that Reid has given toward his recruitment after deciding to remain in the 2021 class and take a prep year at the Florida-based institution. He wants to cut his school list down in the coming weeks before committing, though he is cognizant of the fact that he might never have the chance to actually visit campuses if he plans on signing in the fall.

Luckily, he has already visited Louisville, Maryland, NC State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Pitt, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Michigan is the only school that is heavily involved in his recruitment that he hasn't visited. Maybe Kentucky makes a late run at Reid or UNC shows greater interest, but I don’t give anyone outside of Michigan, OSU, Pitt and maybe Virginia much of a chance. All four have a great need at the center position and all four have intrigued Reid to some extent.

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I would definitely monitor the situation if I was a Kentucky fan. I spoke with Hopkins immediately after his UK offer on Friday night and he did not seem to be in much of a rush with his recruitment. However, that could definitely change with more prodding by the UK staff.

The former Louisville recruit became one of the hottest recruits this summer when he backed off his decision two weeks ago. Since then, practically all of the major college powers have checked in with the Chicago native, including UK, which finally offered after weeks of interest. The Kentucky offer was a big one for Hopkins, there is no understating that. Kentucky is now the favorite and it is the program that could land his commitment within the coming days and weeks. But defeating his newest suitors - which include Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon and Providence - will not be a cake walk.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH KENTUCKY FANS AT CATSILLUSTRATED.COM