With the NCAA season getting underway this week, Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) are providing some early scouting reports on top prospects for the 2020 draft, writing that Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey “stole the show” and looked like a potential top-10 pick in a win over Michigan State on Tuesday.
While Givony and Schmitz are keeping a close eye on several top NCAA prospects, R.J. Hampton – another projected top-10 pick for 2020 – is halfway around the world, playing for the New Zealand Breakers in Australia’s National Basketball League. In a fascinating feature for The Athletic, Dana O’Neil takes a look at how Hampton has adjusted to playing professional ball.
Although Hampton doesn’t necessarily regret choosing to spend the year in Auckland, he admits that it’s “a little weird” watching the NCAA season tip off this week. “I can envision myself in a Kansas jersey,” Hampton told O’Neil, referencing a Jayhawks team whose roster features his best friend Jalen Wilson.
Meanwhile, the top prospect for the 2021 draft class will be remaining stateside rather than following in Hampton’s footsteps by heading overseas. As Givony relays (via Twitter), 6’7″ point guard Cade Cunningham announced this week that he has committed to Oklahoma State for his freshman year in 2020/21. Cunningham claimed the No. 1 spot in ESPN’s very-early mock draft for ’21.
Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:
- As part of the NBA’s attempted crackdown on tampering, the league has prohibited team personnel from using apps that auto-delete relevant communication, per Pete Thamel, Seerat Sohi, and Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. As Dan Feldman of NBC Sports observes, it’s hard to see how the NBA will be able to enforce such a rule.
- Former NBA point guard Greivis Vasquez is taking a leave of absence from his job as the associate head coach of the Erie BayHawks, the Pelicans‘ G League affiliate, the team announced today in a press release. “After taking some time to consider what is best for the team and my health, I have decided to step away from coaching to focus on rehabbing my ankle,” Vasquez said in a statement.
- In the wake of the NBA/China controversy that dominated headlines during the preseason, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts tells Ben Tolliver of The Washington Post that the union hasn’t done enough to help educate players on international issues. With the NBA frequently making trips to countries like China, India, and others, Roberts wants to help raise players’ awareness on those issues.
- Tom Ziller of SB Nation argues that head coaching jobs are more stable now than they have been in past years, generally speaking. As Ziller writes, the average tenure for an NBA coach right now is 3.7 years, which is the highest mark in at least a decade.