Courtesy of McDonald's All-American Game
This weekend in the Rivals Roundtable, national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and Dan McDonald take a look at Pac-12 freshmen. Also, who are the most important remaining big men, plus a weekly look at the commitment watch.
1. Who will be the top freshman in the Pac-12, and who is a potential surprise?
Bossi: Call it a cop out if you want, but Washington’s Isaiah Stewart is absolutely going to bring his lofty No. 2 overall Rivals ranking with him to the Pac-12 and he’ll live up to it. I expect the bruising big man with touch to be not only a candidate for conference Player of the Year but perhaps even All-American honors.
As for a potential surprise, give me a guy that we left out of the Rivals150 in Arizona’s Christian Koloko. I’m not sure how ready he will be as a freshman due to his slender frame, but the near seven-footer has a chance to develop into a dominant shot blocker.
Evans:I know, I know, it is going to be difficult to live up to the billing as the second-best prospect in America but anything short of 18 points, nine rebounds and a block for Isaiah Stewart and I would be mildly surprised. From everyone that I have spoken with, Stewart, just as I assumed, has been the tone setter at UW. He is a game changer that is going to dominate the Pac 12 and has only added onto the physicality tenacity that he brings to the floor thanks to what-looks-to-be an efficient jumper that he can hit to the perimeter.
For the surprise, since Mick Cronin gave Rivals.com some love, I am going to go with a fellow Bruin of his that he didn’t recruit and was not even a member of the 2019 class. Tyger Campbell, sitting out last season due to a torn ACL, could open some eyes this year, that is if he gets a completely clean bill of health. UCLA does not possess one, true lead guard and if Campbell is ready physically, he could be the straw that stirs its drink and catapult the Bruins back to the NCAA Tournament.
McDonald: I know he is No. 2 and his big expectations to live up to, but I see very little chance Isaiah Stewart isn't one of the top players in the Pac-12 this year. He's such a dominant presence inside and Washington will have enough around him to give him space.
2. Which 2020 big man is most important to the schools recruiting him?
Bossi: There simply aren’t many high-level big men left on the board, so any swings and misses from here on out could be critical. Down to a final three of Alabama, Kentucky and Syracuse, I see Isaiah Jackson as immensely important to each of his finalists.
At Alabama, Nate Oats would be able to make a major statement by beating some guys with serious experience recruiting high level dudes and the athletic rim runner could set the tone for future recruiting.
In Lexington, John Calipari is putting together another sizeable class but it still lacks a big man with serious pop in his legs like Jackson has.
At Syracuse, Jackson would be a great fit for Jim Boeheim’s zone and could play out on the wing or the middle of the defense.
Evans: I could say John Hugley for Pitt, PJ Hall for Virginia Tech and Hunter Dickinson for Notre Dame, but if we are talking about anyone in the frontcourt, I will side with Greg Brown for Texas. While his commitment is not entirely vital to the long-term success of the program, the feeling is that he will be a Longhorn as long as UT’s season is a success. If not, he might go somewhere in the mold of a Kentucky, Memphis or North Carolina. Shaka Smart has done tremendous work of developing freshmen big men into one-and-done talent. Brown, in Smart’s system, would be something to behold and also place the Longhorns among a group that could compete for a Big 12 title.
McDonald: Take a look at Duke's frontcourt after this season. It's going to be pretty thin, assuming Vernon Carey Jr. leaves for the NBA. The Blue Devils could really use a big body or two for next year, which makes Mark Williams and Hunter Dickinson really important even after scoring a commitment from Jaemyn Brakefield last week.