College basketball stock watch | Everyone is buying Zion Williamson

Team Drive''s Zion Williamson #21 shoots a free throw against Team Clutch in the Under Armour Elite 24 game on Saturday, August 20, 2016 in Brooklyn, NY. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
AP Photo/Gregory Payan

We have finally hit college basketball’s live period. Everything is fair game. Even though the majority of the 2017 recruiting class is settled, much impact can be had on the future for programs looking to build on the recruiting trail.

Still, it is unlikely we will see a plethora of commitments between now and the start of the season. A handful of five-star talents have already committed, with a few more likely to sprinkle in, but there will not be any crazy run of high-level high school players announcing their intentions.

High School Monster

Zion Williamson

Nearly Everyone Already Bought Stock!

If you follow the unpaid laborers trotting about the hardwood for our entertainment year-round, you know who Zion Williamson is. Even if you don’t, you have likely stumbled across some highlight packages from one of the nation’s tippy-top 2018 recruits.

He’s the kid in the above video who murdered another human by way of blocking his shot with more vengeance than Bruce Willis brought to any of the Die Hard flicks.

Depending on which recruiting service website you prefer, Williamson is arguably the top recruit in his class or — at the very least — one of the top three. Couple his hype in with fancily put together video packages, as well as his innate athleticism, it is easy to see why everyone and their respective mothers are buying his stock.

Not So Fast My Friend!

This is when I remind you that purchasing stock has to be relative to its worth. For Williamson, his stock might never be higher. In turn, it means he will have to be the best player in the country when he gets to college to see some sort of payout from the investment.

Basically, this is the opposite of investing in Apple before the company exploded. It would be like taking your mortgage out to invest in the 2017 version of Google — a safe investment for sure, but one without any real incentive.

Williamson is still deciding between the likes of Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina. He’s also a 6-foot-7 combo forward. There’s still a lot of unknowns about his future, role at the collegiate level, and risk of injury at the high school level, before we should deem it safe to sink money into the kid.

To be clear: I’m not advocating for a short-sell or to bet against him. It is just that the risk might be zero, but so too is the reward.

A Rebel Without A Cause

Jamarko Pickett

The Timing Is Odd…

Ole Miss released JaMarko Pickett from his letter of intent last week. It wasn’t stunning news, as it was reported that he was seeking his release from the program for some time.

What is strange, however, is that the release was granted in mid-July. While this isn’t exactly the worst period for an incoming 2017 recruit to reopen his recruitment cycle, there isn’t a lot of time between today and the start of official practices for Pickett to find a nifty new home.

A top 100 recruit in the 2017 class, barring any unknown calamities or issues, he should be highly sought after even during this late period.

Let’s Wait Before Buying, I Think?

There’s far too many unknowns at the moment to start hurling our cash at the Pickett stock.

Maybe it is far too cynical, but another shoe dropping seems inevitable. Probably nothing horrific, but it is odd that someone as touted at Pickett would commit but then bail this late. Does it mean something evil is happening? Of course not. Still, it is better to be safe than sorry.

For now, we are best monitoring what Pickett’s next move is. Will he commit to another big boy Division I program, take another collegiate route, or look abroad to develop his craft?

The 6-foot-8 Pickett is considered the No. 77 overall prospect according to Rivals. He should stay highly coveted. Our interest in his stock should remain high, but it is only just our interest for now. Hold on to your loot for the time being.

Conspiracy Theories

Tim Duryea

Paranoia Has Set In

Tim Duryea, who is the head coach of Utah State, has publicly accused an AAU coach of shopping one of his best players from last season on the transfer market without the player being in on the shopping.

According to Duryea, Mountain West Freshman of the Year Koby McEwen was being sold to bidders by way of some AAU coach in Canada.

“That was a situation where a player was being shopped and didn’t even know he was being shopped,” Duryea told Jeff Hunter of the Desert News. “He was shopping Koby’s name out there without checking with the family or the kid. He was contacting other programs, telling them that here’s a kid that’s looking to transfer and that wasn’t even the case.

This probably does happen, and happen fairly often, in college basketball. But for a head coach to be so blunt about it in a story is pretty amazing.

Context matters here.

We’re Selling Because Of The Messenger…

You are probably not real familiar with Utah State basketball, but you have probably heard of Duryea before (even if you don’t remember him).

He is the coach who refused to release David Collette from his scholarship after the player wanted to transfer out right before the 2015-16 season took place. In turn, Collette, who eventually landed with Utah, could not receive a scholarship from the Utes and was unable to get any financial aid until after the 2016 fall semester.

Without even getting into the hot-topic of refusing to allow a player to transfer away from a program without penalty, you can understand being somewhat skeptical of Duryea’s claims considering he’s probably too emotionally invested in the entire transfer issue itself.

He’s already been spurned once. Publicly so, too.

I’m not saying what Duryea surmises is untrue. I am saying, however, that a man who didn’t mind messing with a kid’s life because he wanted out of his program shouldn’t be afforded the luxury of complaining about someone tinkering with a workaround transfer possibility — truth in the conspiracy or not.

If you’re going to restrict players who want to move on, just or not, you shouldn’t be shocked or angry if a future kid doesn’t let you in on his non-you plans.

Joseph has been covering basketball for nearly a decade. He is the host of the Relatively Speaking Podcast and a columnist for FanRag Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone.

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