Three-Point Play: Reggie Perry, three spotlight teams, recruits to watch
Today in the Three-Point-Play, national basketball analyst Eric Bossi takes a look at his pick for the next SEC player to have a P.J. Washington-like sophomore season. Also discussed are programs that will be watched closely during this week’s live period.
STARTING FIVE: Most important week of the summer begins
1. IS REGGIE PERRY ABOUT TO GO P.J. WASHINGTON ON THE SEC?
Last year, P.J. Washington entered the NBA Draft, went to the Combine and was encouraged to go back to school. He did so and had a monster sophomore season at Kentucky and moved himself into the Lottery where he was taken by Charlotte with the No. 12 pick.
I’m looking for something really similar to happen for Mississippi State’s Reggie Perry this season. Like Washington, Perry entered the draft, didn’t get the feedback he wanted and decided to come back.
As a freshman, the strong 6-foot-10 forward showed plenty of flashes. He was dominant on the glass at times, showed inside/out scoring ability and that he could compete physically. But he was also a bit inconsistent and his jumper still needs some polish. I was able to watch Perry in June at the USA Basketball U19 tryouts and he floored me with his progression. That continued to the FIBA World Cup where Perry was named the tournament MVP and led the USA to a gold medal while putting up 13.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
2. THREE PROGRAMS THAT HAVE MY ATTENTION THIS WEEK
With uncertainty about which top players will or won’t attend the NCAA Academies at the end of the month, this week’s live period is the only surefire chance for high-end programs to see all of their top targets. With that in mind, I’m really curious to see how three traditional blueblood programs -- Indiana, North Carolina and UCLA --- handle the week. I have very different reasons for each.
I’ll start with UCLA because Mick Cronin is in the most high profile position of any new coach. Not only that, but SoCal is loaded with talent right now and Cronin is trying to make inroads with the top talent. Even in down years, UCLA has always been able to attract top locals and have a national reach. I’ve seen more than enough of Cronin to be pretty certain that he’ll be a winner in Westwood. But, I’m interested to see how he sells his brand to local talent and how the Bruins fanbase reacts to the guys he does choose to prioritize. Jalen Green, Makur Maker, Ziaire Williams, Josh Christopher, Daishen Nix and Nimari Burnett are all California/West Coast kids ranked as five-stars and there are several more right on their heels. Which do Cronin and his staff feel they can get in with? Who do the prioritize and who do they steer clear of? It’s going to be interesting to see.
At Indiana, there’s been lots of hope over the recruiting that Archie Miller has done since landing the job. Of the seven high schoolers he’s signed in 2018 and 2019, they have all ranked among the Rivals150 and he’s landed an in-state McDonald’s All-American in each class. Not a bad start on the recruiting trail. Unfortunately, the wins haven’t followed as the Hoosiers have missed the NCAA Tournament in each of his first two seasons. Needless to say, the pressure to make it back this year is one while no 2020 recruit can help with that, I’m wondering if the pressure to return IU to past glory will have any kind of impact on how he attacks the 2020 class.
I know this, Miller should be at least a little relieved that there’s not a must-get local player he’s got to land. Now it’s a matter of figuring out which of his top targets – four-stars Caleb Love, D.J. Steward, Hassan Diarra, Jalen Bridges, Matt Cross and Zach Loveday are among those near the top of the Hoosiers' list – he can lock in on and bring to Bloomington. Landing two or three of these guys could help to turn the heat down a little as he preps for year No. 3.
Then we have Roy Williams and North Carolina. Since his arrival in Chapel Hill for the 2003-04 season, a strong argument could be made that Williams has been college basketball’s most successful coach. The Heels are continually in the mix for ACC and National Championships and they continue to pump out NBA Draft picks. That should be enough for any Heels fans, but there seems to be a big hangup about them not quite recruiting at the same level as say Duke and Kentucky who have churned out one-and-dones on a yearly basis. Though I’d argue not getting as many of those guys has been hugely beneficial to the program’s ultimate success I can also understand the pain Heels fans feel at time.
The 2020 class, though, could be the one that UNC breaks through with a super class like those folks in Durham and Lexington are accustomed to. Five-star big man Day’Ron Sharpe is already locked up and the Heels are considered to be serious players for five-stars Ziaire Williams, Bryce Thompson, Jaden Springer and Isaiah Todd. Add in others on the cusp of five-star status like Caleb Love, Cam’Ron Fletcher, Earl Timberlake and more and it appears that this could be the year for a monster class in Chapel Hill.
3. CANDIDATES TO SEE THEIR RECRUITMENTS BLOW UP?
Because there aren’t as many evaluation periods this summer, it’s going to be harder for players to come from totally off the radar to see their recruitments blow up. But, there are a few fairly well known players who I could see taking their recruitment to that elite level. They are 2020 four-stars Jaylin Williams and Eugene Brown along with 2021 four-star Isael Silva.
Currently ranked No. 67 nationally, Williams is a skilled 6-foot-9 or so post who can run the floor, shoot, rebound and play good positional defense. The Arkansas native has been a standout for Woodz Elite in Nike’s EYBL and he has a more than respectable offer list with programs like Auburn, Arkansas, Illinois, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, TCU and others. But, with the lack of depth among big men and not many who project as solid, multi-year players like Williams, I’m fully expecting his recruitment to take another big leap ahead by the end of this week.
In the case of Brown, we are talking about a high-flying, aggressive and rapidly improving wing who fits the mold of the coveted three-and-D wing with size and athleticism. Brown is fully healthy and while coaches got a preview of what he could do during late June, I think they’ll get the full show this week. Clemson, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State and Xavier were among those to offer at the beginning of Brown’s junior year and Georgia, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech have joined in during the past few weeks. Be on the lookout for possible blue blood involvement with Brown before the end of the month if he does what he’s capable of.
Finally, Silva is already ranked quite highly in the class of 2021 at No. 31 overall and is a big-time West Coast point guard. He’s got tremendous size, is a fine athlete and is gifted with great vision and a burner for a jump shot. Stanford, TCU and Utah are the high majors who have offered but I’m betting his recruitment turns into a total feeding frenzy of top Pac-12 programs and beyond within the next few weeks.