Robinson Report- 10/26/19
Welcome to part two of the Robinson Report coverage surrounding the upcoming xollege basketball season. In part one, I discussed the biggest headlines entering the season, from Tom Izzo and the hype surrounding his Michigan State Spartan team, to Duke and their freshman class and team post Zion Williamson. Part 2 of our College Basketball coverage covers top freshman to watch, and preseason March Madness predictions as we are about two weeks away from arguably the best time of the year and the beginning of such an exciting season.
Ten Dynamic Freshman to Watch:
James Wiseman, Memphis:
I’ve touched on the hype surrounding Memphis and Wiseman in part one of my coverage, but all you need to know is this: Hardaway got his biggest recruit in Memphis history (Besides D-Rose anyways) in Wiseman who could be the Naismith Player of the Year. Memphis has a lot of hype going into this season as a dark-horse candidate for the Final Four, and this is partly because of the talent Wiseman brings to the table.
Anthony Edwards, Georgia:
You might be thinking, “How much did Tom Crean pay Anthony Edwards to come play for him in Georgia?” And you’d be right if you just looked at the offers he was holding. But, Edwards is a Georgia kid, and the opportunity to put Georgia basketball on the map while staying home and playing for a nationally respected Head Coach in Tom Crean (Crean coached guys like Dwayne Wade at Marquette and Victor Oladipo at Indiana) definitely has its appeal. Edwards will need help, but he makes Georgia basketball must-watch TV this season.
Cole Anthony, North Carolina:
Cole Anthony is by far the flashiest freshman this season. He has a chance, depending on how his season goes, to beat out LaMelo Ball for the #1 overall pick. Regardless, the lottery pick can become the best Point Guard Roy Williams has ever had. Ever Had? Yes, you heard me right. The Oak Hill graduate is best known for his finishes at the rim, but he’ll show you this year why he is a dangerous outside shooter. He’s worked with Chris Brickley in the off-season, the same trainer where numerous high-level NBA players workout during their off-season as well, and it’ll pay dividends for the son of Greg Anthony this year at Chapel Hill.
CJ Walker, Oregon:
CJ Walker may be the best player from the Tampa-Orlando area since Kevin Knox (Tampa Catholic). Walker played with Nassir Little at Orlando Christian Prep and won back to back titles his Sophomore and Junior year of HS before transferring to Oak Ridge for his Senior Year, the same Oak Ridge that graduated players like Emmitt Williams and Antonio Blakeney, both LSU products. The 6’8, 200-lbs Forward Walker brings youth to Dana Altman and the Oregon Ducks, and for a team that will return a lot of seniors, they will be back in the Sweet 16 to Elite Eight range looking to make some damage again.
Vernon Carey, Duke:
Vernon Carey reminds me of Kawhi Leonard. Not necessarily in his play, but his approach and demeanor. Carey is cyborg-like, not showing a whole lot of emotions on the court, as evident by his domination of the High School Stage at University School in Florida. Him and Scottie Barnes as a Junior and Sophomore, respectively, led University to the Dick’s National Title Game. He brings size and power to Coach K’s Duke Blue Devil team, giving them down low strength and size they haven’t seen since Jahlil Okafor.
Scottie Lewis, Florida:
Tell me, when was the last time Florida got a big-time recruit after landing Keyontae Johnson and Andrew Nembhard last season? Mike White has done an excellent job recruiting since taking over as the Gators head coach, and one of the reasons why they will compete for an SEC Championship is because of players like Lewis. The Ranney School New Jersey native brings a lot of scoring to the Gator offense to balance the down-low presence of Keyontae Johnson and Kerry Blackshear, the transfer from Virginia Tech.
Nico Mannion, Arizona:
Nico Mannion will bring a lot of flair to Sean Miller and the Arizona Wildcats offense. The explosive point guard is one of the highest PG recruits Arizona has had since T.J. McConnell and Alonzo Trier (If you classify Trier as a PG). If Arizona has any chance to get their mojo back this season, it will be largely in part to the duo of Mannion and Josh Green (Florida).
Tyrese Maxey/Kahlil Whitney, Kentucky:
You can’t single out Whitney or Maxey as the better player or the player that will contribute more for the Wildcats and John Calipari. They’re ranked as the 10th and 11th best players in the 2019 class, and both bring their own style and play. Maxey is the combo guard that can score at will and Whitney is the bigger SF that brings power to balance out the scoring. Kentucky always has the big recruits, but something feels different this season in Lexington. The duo of Whitney and Maxey can bring success to the Kentucky program this season, without a doubt.
Josh Green, Arizona:
With Nico Mannion, Josh Green brings underrated scoring to the Wildcats offense. I truly think that Green is the most underrated top recruit and was the most underrated McDonald’s All-American this past year. A lot of his work went unnoticed because of how much talent he played with at IMG Academy. He was the best scorer on an offense that featured top PG recruit in the Class of 2020 Noah Farrakhan, Villanova Freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Tennessee Commit Jaden Springer, and North Carolina Freshman Armando Bacot. That says a lot, and so he will be the go-to man on offense for Miller and the Wildcats throughout the year.
Bryan Antoine, Villanova:
Jay Wright isn’t known for his high level recruiting. He’s won national championships with guys like Ryan Archidiacono, Jalen Brunson, Kris Jenkins and Phil Booth. But this year, he got himself a really solid class, and it starts with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl out of IMG and Bryan Antoine. Antoine comes from the Ranney School in New Jersey and was teammates with Florida Gators freshman Scottie Lewis. He was a McDonald’s All-American as a dynamic guard that Wright raves about, and he will make Villanova an instant contender in the Big East and in the country.
March Madness and Postseason Predictions:
Naismith Player of the Year: Cassius Winston, Michigan State Top 4 Seeds: Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina
Bust of the Tournament: Memphis
Sleeper of the Tournament: Florida
Final Four: Kentucky, Florida, Michigan State and Louisville
National Championship: Michigan State over Kentucky