Rivals.com basketball recruiting analysts Jerry Meyer and Eric Bossi weigh in on four current topics.
Who is a player you're looking forward to watching this summer?
Bossi: I'm particularly anxious to get another look at 2013 power forward Chris Walker. At 6-foot-9, he's an electric athlete with great hands, some skill and lots of energy. I want to see if he can go out against the best competition and prove that his spring performance was no fluke. The other guy that I really want to see is J.P. Tokoto and I want to see him in a very specific situation, the NBPA Top 100 camp in June. Last year, NBPA went about as bad for Tokoto as it possibly could. I'm curious to see how he does when he goes back there this year. He doesn't need to prove anything, but I'd be willing to bet he's had the mid-June event circled on his calendar for quite some time.
Meyer: I'm most excited about discriminating between the highest end players in the 2013 class. There is a lot of talent and potential star power in that region of prospects. In the next two months I want to get a much better gauge on these prospects. Then I look forward figuring out the best order for them in the rankings.
What spring/summer event is gaining steam?
Bossi: If anything, I would actually say that the majority of spring and summer events are losing steam and for a variety of reasons. However the two biggest issues look to be that the NCAA won't allow coaches to go out and watch players at spring events and now events can't use D-I campuses to host their tournaments (unless they have a long-term lease in place). Those things combined with some tougher economic times and way more events popping up have caused most events to become a bit watered down from where they've been in the past.
Meyer: Just when it looked like The Real Deal in the Rock was losing some steam, the Little Rock event landed a stellar field this past year. The spread-out nature of the event is a negative compared to how it was centrally located during its formative years on the Arkansas campus. Distance between gyms is easily overlooked, however, with the amount of talent The Real Deal had this year. I expect the event will continue to draw the level of talent that it had this year.
What travel team is most fun to watch?
Bossi: The teams that are the most fun to watch are the teams that win, play hard and seem to do so without having any ego. Team Takeover out of Washington D.C. is a perfect example of that. While Takeover is loaded with high-major talent, the way that it plays as a team and shares the spotlight has been impressive to see. Not surprisingly, Takeover now has a winning streak of 27 games in Nike EYBL play, dating back to May 2010. The Oakland Soldiers are always a fun group because they not only win, but do so with flair and a fun up-and-down style. This spring, the Shabazz Muhammad Dream Vision squad has been a lot of fun to watch as well.
Meyer: Several travel teams come to mind in the past. I loved the FOH team with Spencer Hawes and Jon Brockman and their supporting cast. They played a high-level brand of well-coached team basketball. The Illinois Wolves were exceptional with the Bobby Frasor and Bryan Mullins backcourt. The Mean Streets with Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon and their cast of grinders was a dynamic squad. One of the special teams from the past was Rick Isaacs' H-Squad led by Davon Jefferson and Danny Williams. More recently, I've always enjoyed watching Kyle Anderson navigate traffic for a Playaz squad with potent shooters.
How would you change the summer recruiting circuit?
Bossi: Well, this is certainly a loaded question and one that I could go on rambling about for days. It seems to me that every new rule that comes out makes it tougher for programs and prospects to develop relationships. The biggest thing I would like to see is college programs be able to get out some in the spring. In addition to the days they get on the road watching events in July, I think college coaches should be able to watch Memorial Day weekend events and I'd also like to see them given a weekend in April to go out and watch kids. It's become absolutely comical to see kids get offers from schools during weekends in which a prospect is out playing somewhere, blows up and then gets a sight unseen offer.
Meyer: I definitely think the coaches should be able to evaluate events during weekends in April. A lot of rash decisions and mistakes occur in the recruiting process during July because of the lack of preparation time to identify targets in the spring. The loss of the April evaluation period for events hurts the prospects along with the coaches. There is less time for lesser known prospects to emerge, and the transfer rate is only going to increase because of a growing prevalence of "bad fits."