By Mychal Hunter
ACCBR takes a look at the new addition to the 2019 class & predicts his destination
A long anticipated decision regarding highly sought after guard Jalen Cone finally came this weekend. The North Carolina native announced via video that not only would he be reclassifying to the 2019 class, but that we will hear his decision on May 9th.
Of the six schools left in consideration, a quartet of ACC schools remain. North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Boston College are all hopeful to land the difference making point guard. Former Hokies head coach Buzz Williams also made the cut at his new locale, Texas A&M, while Tennessee rounds out the remaining six.
With a 66% chance that Cone will land in the premier basketball conference in the country, I wanted to take a quick look at what that would mean for each ACC program.
It can’t be overstated how much praise newly hired head coach Mike Young deserves for keeping the Hokies in consideration. To me this says that Cone liked more about Virginia Tech than just Buzz Williams.
As far as what Cone would mean on the court, pretty much everything. The Hokies currently have 6 scholarship players on their roster and of those six, only Isaiah Wilkins and PJ Horne have any ACC experience. Which totaled less than 900 minutes in 2018-19. Reserve guard Wabissa Bede played more by himself.
The Hokies need the body, the scoring, the ball handling and simply the talent that a player like Cone would provide. Pairing him in the backcourt with RS freshman Landers Nolley would be a great start to Young’s construction of this roster.
A really interesting choice among the final six, right? Not really. If you look at Boston College head coach Jim Christian’s history, he has some suction in North Carolina. Jerome Robinson, Ky Bowman and the Hamilton brothers all hail from the “First in Flight” state.
During Christians tenure in Chestnut Hill the one group of kids that always seem to flourish are his guards. The man can flat out coach his backcourt players and he can put them in the NBA. The possibility of pairing Jalen Cone with sophomore Wynston Tabbs has to give Christian confidence about next season’s possibilities as both Hamiltons, Chris Herren, Steffon Mitchell and Nik Popovic all return as well.
With Cone and Tabbs in the backcourt the Eagles would have the talent to hang with just about anyone in what will be a down ACC next season. The obvious questions are 1) Is Boston College truly in consideration? and 2) Can Wynston Tabbs stay healthy?
North Carolina State
The Wolfpack have long been the favorite to land Cone as Walkertown is roughly 100 miles from Raleigh. State also finds itself in a strange predicament as they may end up losing a player they signed for the 2019 season before he sets foot on campus.
Jalen Lecque is currently testing the NBA Draft waters and many expect him to follow through on the process despite his reputation as a below average jump shooter. To compound matters even more, Markell Johnson is also testing the waters. While Johnson doesn’t possess the name of some other players in the draft, he is a 6’1 point guard with excellent vision, who plays defense and can stroke it from beyond the arc. If that isn’t a fit in today’s NBA I am not sure what is.
If both players stay in the draft that would mean Braxton Beverly would shift back to the point guard position which is not what Kevin Keatts really wants to do. Cone would be the point guard from day one if both are gone and the playing time he receives would ultimately depend on himself and himself alone.
Kids love to play in Keatts’ system and kids love to get oodles of playing time without have to beat anyone out for it. The only sticking point here is that Cone will be making his decision before the potential draftees do.
This is the interesting one for me. It appeared that Danny Manning’s sales pitch had become stale given the on the court results, as his 2019 cycle wasn’t bearing much fruit. Cone’s commitment would certainly be a shot in the arm for the man who’s too expensive to fire.
There isn’t a whole that says Brandon Childress couldn’t shift to the off guard spot other than the fact that he probably wouldn’t want to. Cone could certainly play the deuce or come off the bench, but does that appeal to him? Who knows? Certainly not me.
Cone is considered a multi-year guy so he may be willing to wait and be handed the reigns in 2020-21, but will Manning be there? Who comes next? Is that worth dealing with? I think this inclusion is a place holder and nod to the local school (Walkertown is 8 miles away from Winston Salem) in order to make people think Manning still has some juice.
This kid’s game is tiggght as you can see in the video above. The Pack may have been the favorite but the potential depth at guard if both Johnson and Lecque come back has to concern him, especially when you consider Beverly and Seabron are also going to be there.
Tennesse has Josiah James coming in and Turner and Bowden returning so that doesn’t make a ton of sense. Plus he is committing the day before his scheduled visit to Knoxville. So now it makes even less sense. He has also never visited College Station and Boston College, eh, Christian is living on borrowed time.
If I had to say, I’d guess it’s going to be Virginia Tech. He just officially visited Blacksburg at the end of April, he announced he was reclassifying shortly after he returned and Virginia Tech has all the minutes he can handle available to him from day 1 at the point guard spot. But, just because it makes the most sense doesn’t mean that’s what’s going to happen. He might like Buzz Williams that much and maybe Mike Young couldn’t sell him. We will find out together on Thursday.