It has not been an easy offseason for college basketball fans, with the fresh memory of the major conference tournaments and Final Four canceled in 2020. I hope the 2020-21 season will start on time in November despite the ongoing pandemic.
In the meantime, there has been some news to follow, including coaching changes, plenty of transfers and college commitments from the game's new faces. One thing that always excites me about the start of the new season is the number of impact diaper dandies that come in. Yes, there is an adjustment from high school to college, going from big man on campus at the high school level to fitting in with the veterans who are used to the college game.
There is a lot of hype at the top of the diaper dandy lists, and the expectations are often great. A few of the newcomers can live up to that level of anticipation, while others settle in and eventually have a major impact. With that in mind, I have come up with my "elite eight" guys who I feel will make a difference during the upcoming season:
Cade Cunningham, 6-foot-7, PG, Oklahoma State Cowboys
Cunningham had to make a major decision whether to remain committed to Oklahoma State or consider a transfer. He opted to stay with the Cowboys despite an NCAA penalty which will keep the team from postseason play. Cunningham will be a difference-maker at a program that was 18-14 last season. The 6-7 point guard is athletic and has outstanding leadership skills. He's strong, can shoot the jump shot and has good ball-handling skills. Fans in Stillwater are excited about his potential.
Evan Mobley, 7-0, C, USC Trojans
Mobley is part of an outstanding class bought in by coach Andy Enfield. He moves well, gets down the floor impressively is long, athletic and will improve with more experience. He will team up well with his new Trojan teammates to be an NCAA tournament contender in an improving Pac-12.
Scottie Barnes, 6-7, PF, Florida State Seminoles
Leonard Hamilton is happy to have Barnes, the highest-ranked recruit in Florida State history. I believe the Seminoles had a legit shot to cut down the nets last season, and while Florida State lost a lot of veteran talent, Barnes should start right away and have an impact. He has a long wingspan and will be a name right away.
Jalen Suggs, 6-4, PG, Gonzaga Bulldogs
Mark Few is thrilled to have this outstanding athlete, who was also a football star in high school. Suggs is the highest-rated player to attend Gonzaga. I believe the Zags will be preseason No. 1, and Suggs' athleticism and quickness is one of the reasons why.
Josh Christopher, 6-4, SG, Arizona State Sun Devils
Arizona State will be a top-20 team with the addition of Mr. Christopher. He has scoring ability at 6-4 with solid long-range touch. Christopher has good bloodlines, as his older brother, Patrick, played at California. The Californian will have to deal with growing expectations, as the Sun Devils are not a sleeper any more. Bobby Hurley will be thrilled with him.
Greg Brown, 6-8, PF, Texas Longhorns
Brown should be a big plus to a team that came on strong to finish 19-12 last season. He is a scorer who has improved his ball handling skills, and also gained weight and got stronger during his high school years. The sky is the limit for Brown, and Shaka Smart will rely on him to do big things for the Longhorns.
Caleb Love, 6-3, PG, North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina has one of the top recruiting classes coming into 2020-21, so I could have picked several Tar Heels for this piece. I went with Love because Roy Williams will trust him with the ball in his hands. Guard play is crucial for North Carolina, and this kid can flat-out play.
B.J. Boston, 6-6, SF, Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky has a special set of newcomers as John Calipari simply reloads from year to year. Boston is going to be special. The shooting guard from California is one of the premier shooters coming to the college game this season, and is an aggressive scorer off the dribble. The Wildcats will impress Big Blue Nation.
There is a look at my elite eight diaper dandies coming in. I gave this serious thought and could have had six or seven others on this list.
Let's hope college basketball can come back on time. These young men would provide excitement galore, baby!