WHERE IS JAMES WISEMAN HEADING?
Wiseman’s recruitment is shaping up to be one of the most interesting battles in recent memory. Wiseman was identified long ago as one of, if not the top prospect in the Class of 2019, and as you might expect, the big boys came swooping in. The Nashville native was long considered a Kentucky lean, but thanks to the way that the coaching carousel shook out this past spring, another suitor has emerged: Memphis.
You see, Wiseman left Nashville to move to Memphis, where he played for Penny Hardaway at East High School and for Team Penny, a Nike-sponsored grassroots program that played on the EYBL circuit. Penny, as we all know by now, replaced Tubby Smith as the head coach for the Memphis Tigers. His relationships with the players that he has coached and mentored in the high school ranks is impressive — he had a couple of players in the Class of 2018 to get out of their letters of intent and come to Memphis — and it’s impossible not to connect those dots.
So let’s forget about the fact that Wiseman will be competing with the likes of Vernon Carey and Cole Anthony for the title of top player in the Class of 2019.
A recruiting battle is shaping up between Memphis legend Penny Hardaway and former Memphis head coach John Calipari. Buckle up. (RD)
COLE ANTHONY STAKES HIS OWN CLAIM FOR NO. 1
Although the Class of 2019 seems to be dominated at the top by big men and jumbo wings, point guard Cole Anthony will do his best to stake his claim as the No. 1 overall prospect in the class.
The son of former UNLV star and NBA veteran Greg Anthony, the 6-foot-2 Cole was a dominant player this spring and summer. Looking like the best player in the Nike EYBL during the spring months, Anthony played more like a true point guard during June with the USA Basketball U18 team — helping the team to a gold medal while capturing all-tournament honors.
A naturally gifted scorer who is trying to get better at setting up teammates, it’ll be intriguing to see how much Anthony has to be a go-to guy during the month of July. If Anthony can mix in the high-level scoring acumen with solid point-guard play, then he might wind up being the best player in the class. (SP)
THE BALANCE OF POWER IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HAS CHANGED
UCLA is a blueblood, arguably college basketball’s most storied program, the home of John Wooden and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. They’ve been to 18 Final Fours and 13 national title games while winning 11 national titles. Even with some of the issues that UCLA has had winning games in recent seasons, they were still able to bring in the best of the best in Southern California.
But the tide is turning.
USC, even with the cloud left by the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball, is dominating the Southern California recruiting market. They’ve landed two five-stars in the Class of 2019, one of whom is former Big Baller Onyeka Okongwu and the other — Isaiah Mobley — is the older brother of Evan Mobley, the No. 2 player in the Class of 2020, and the son of current USC assistant coach Eric Mobley. The four members of their 2019 class are all local players, and David Grace — who created the pipeline that sent local kids to UCLA — is now at Cal.
As it stands, Andy Enfield and USC are the face of basketball in California. (RD)
RECLASSIFYING IS ALL THE RAGE
This has been a trend for a couple of years now. Duke’s Marvin Bagley III famously did it after playing at Peach Jam in the summer of 2017. Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans did it this year. They are just two of dozens of players that have made the move in recents seasons, the goal being to get to college — then the NBA, then NBA free agency — a year earlier. It’s going to happen with kids in the Class of 2019 and 2020. Which kids will it be and where will they end up? (RD)
WHAT DOES DUKE DO NEXT?
Duke is coming off of a 2018 recruiting haul that features arguably the top three overall prospects and four players in the national top ten. No matter what Duke does with this class, the Blue Devils and head coach Mike Kryzewski are going to have a tough time living up to that lofty Class of 2018 haul.
Things could still wind up being great for Duke with the Class of 2019, but the group hasn’t started to take form yet. The Blue Devils find themselves in the mix with most of the top-ten national prospects — including names like Vernon Carey Jr, Cole Anthony, Matthew Hurt and Isaiah Stewart. But none of those guys feel like a sure thing, as Duke continues to wage war with Kentucky (among others) over the latest one-and-done prospects.
With Coach K getting older, the program has also started searching for more long-term program guys like Wendell Moore and Joe Girard who could be in Durham for a few years of added stability. With a potentially large recruiting class, it will be fascinating to see how things play out for Duke this July (SP)