After a year in Tuscaloosa, Nate Oats is starting to get things rolling on the recruiting front. Transfer mania continues across the country and more in this week’s edition of the Starting Five.
2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position
2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position
2022 Rankings: Top 75
1. TIDE ROLLING
When Nate Oats was hired to take over the Alabama program, both myself and colleague Corey Evans figured it would only be a matter of time before his impact was felt on the recruiting trail. Well, Oats and his staff appear to have the Crimson Tide rolling.
A little over a week ago they scored big with Canadian combo guard Josh Primo. Over the weekend, they added one of the top junior college players in Keon Ellis. I watched a fair amount of film on Ellis during the winter and there is a lot to like. He has good size for a wing and is a big-time athlete who is a bouncy finisher off drives and in transition. Even better, he’s got a really nice jump shot, deep range and in particular I like his mastery of a step-back dribble move to create space and clean looks. Predicting the impact of juco transfers is always a little tricky, but this guy looks like he could come in and score double-digit points as a junior.
I don’t think the Tide are done in 2020, either. On Tuesday, four-star wing Darius Miles of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG is planning on announcing his decision. A skilled wing who can also play some four in a small ball lineup, I like Miles’ long-term upside and fit in the SEC. Last week, I made a FutureCast prediction for Alabama as Miles’ pick and so far I’m sticking with it. Should Miles end up picking Alabama, their recruiting class will move into the top 20 for 2020.
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2. MINNESOTA GETS A BIG ONE
On Sunday, Minnesota emerged as one of the big winners of the 2020 transfer cycle when Drake 7-footer Liam Robbins announced that he was transferring to play for Richard Pitino and the Gophers.
A native of Davenport, Iowa, who was lightly recruited after prepping at Bel Aire (Kans.) Sunrise Christian, I did not see Robbins play in high school. However, I’ve had the chance to watch him develop at Drake where he averaged more than 14 points, seven rebounds and just under three blocks per game as a sophomore.
I am interested to see how well Robbins translates athletically to the Big Ten, but he’s big, takes up space, has excellent timing as a shot blocker and good touch on the offensive end, out to about 15 feet, meaning he could extend into a pick-and-pop guy.
You never can quite be sure what you will get when a guy transfers up a level, but Robbins has improved drastically over the past few years and if he continues that trend he could go a long way toward plugging the hole that is left by Gophers’ sophomore big man Daniel Oturu’s departure to the NBA.
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3. TRANSFER TAKES
Obviously, Robbins wasn’t the only high-level transfer of the weekend. I wanted to run through four that stuck out to me with some rapid fire takes.
Alan Griffin to Syracuse: A key role player at Illinois as a sophomore, Griffin looked to be on the verge of breaking out as a junior. He’s put together for a wing, shot the ball very well from deep his second year for the Illini and projects as a potential starter and top three scorer for the Orange.
Carlik Jones to Louisville: I’m usually a bit skeptical that grad transfers can be much more than role players when they move from the low or mid to high major level, but the Cards got a good one here. The Big South’s player of the year in 2019-20 at Radford, Jones is a long and versatile guard who really improved his shooting over the last season.
Trey McGowens to Nebraska: A top 100 player coming out of high school, McGowens had two pretty successful years at Pittsburgh and has logged a lot of minutes in the ACC. He helps to upgrade the Huskers athleticism and if he can find his jump shot, he could turn into a go-to guy over the next few years in Lincoln.
Patrick Tape to Duke: The Columbia transfer sure brought it in the drama department. He committed to Duke in late March, decommitted late last week and then committed again on Sunday. He’s got a big body and I’m sure he’s insurance against Vernon Carey Jr. going pro and to help ease the transition into the ACC for McDonald’s All-American Mark Williams. He’s got size, strength and maturity but I’m just not sure how much to expect from a guy who was the fourth-leading scorer on a 10-18 Ivy League team when he last played in the 2018-19 season.
4. 2023 STAR MIKEY WILLIAMS REELING IN OFFERS
If you didn’t already know about freshman guard Mikey Williams out of San Diego (Calif.) San Ysidro, you were likely going to learn about him this spring and summer.
The coronavirus pandemic has already put an end to spring grassroots travel and the odds of summer events still happening don’t look that great. So, we may not get to see the true high-flying scoring machine this summer for the Compton Magic. But, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a rock star on social media (over 1.8 million Instagram folllowers) whose play backs up the hype.
Based on his first season of high school he has put himself in the argument for best player in the 2023 class — which we won’t rank until late August. Whether he’ll even have to go to college if he continues on this path will be up to the NBA and whether it changes its age rules. But, that didn’t stop a flurry of scholarship offers being doled out to him over the last week by high level programs as Oregon, Texas Tech and UCLA all offered.
Williams already held offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, San Diego State, USC and more. He is well on his way to being able to pick any program in America.
5. FARMER ONE TO MONITOR IN H-TOWN
The name Josh Farmer is one that has come across my Twitter feed, email inbox and text messages more than a few times. While I’ve not yet been able to see him in person or get quite as much film as I would like to speculate about where I’d rank him nationally in the class of 2021, I do believe the 6-foot-8’ish forward from Houston (Texas) Sharpstown is one to start paying close attention to.
He’s got good size, looks to be capable of playing on the wing or the interior, is athletic and I’ve been told that he has very strong academics. I mean, what’s not to like?
I’ve spoken with college coaches that saw him as a junior and some trusted sources in Houston who vouch for Farmer and are sure that if he gets a chance to play in front of coaches this summer, his stock will soar.
As it is, the likes of Florida State, Houston, TCU and Western Kentucky are among those who have seen enough to offer scholarships. He’s on my priority list to see once we can get back into gyms.