Is it too early to start speculating on who might be leaving the program with the commitment of center Malcolm Gilbert?
Of course it is.
For one thing, Gilbert, like the other recruits have only made verbal commitments and will need to sign letters of intent before anything becomes official. For another, there's no telling if all four recruits would even qualify academically. And for yet another, someone may really want to leave the program voluntarily, opening up another spot.
And I still haven't mentioned perhaps the most likely scenario out of all those things - what if Dante Taylor leaves early for the NBA?
But say all of the aforementioned happens and Taylor sticks around. Then what?
Well, the two players I see in the most trouble are:
J.J. Richardson - He's probably going to see less time this season with the emergence of Talib Zanna and since Gilbert is a big man, it makes it even more likely that he could go. Mix in 2012 recruit Steven Adams and the frontcourt gets really crowded. Richardson's advantage may be that if he can beat out Gilbert as a Junior next year, he'd likely be the backup center behind Taylor (assuming Taylor stays at center...I know, that's an entirely different debate).
Cameron Wright - I know, I get it. He hasn't even played a minute for the team yet. But this is all about speculation and besides, who else do you see that could go instead of him? Travon Woodall? Please. He played really well down the stretch last season and despite not being the best shooter, is probably the team's best true point guard. Plus, with Isaiah Epps and Woodall (who really got better as the season went on last year), ahead of him, he might be struggling to get minutes. And don't forget about incoming 2011 freshman John Johnson who will be at the point or SG.
It's crazy early, but that's how I see it. I can't pick between those two because it largely will depend on how others in their positions fare over the next season. If everyone qualifies, it will be interesting to see how Dixon deals with this situation for a second straight year. From everything I hear, Dixon hates doing this sort of thing. I'm a little puzzled that he'd do it again for a three-star, somewhat-prospect center if he didn't have a good reason for it. Maybe he thinks Taylor is gone after this season. Maybe he knows something we don't. In any event, he's opened the door for a world of speculation over the next year.