After unwrapping his Christmas gifts, Eric Bossi now opens his mailbag to answer your questions.
I know that Brandon Austin is poised to make a jump in the 2013 rankings. Is there any chance that he ends up on the McDonald's All-American team? -- Johnnymac34 (via message board)
As you correctly point out, the Providence-bound signee from Philadelphia (Pa.) Imhotep will be making a move up the rankings at the end of the year. As for whether the 6-foot-6, do-it-all wing ends up a McDonald's All-American, that depends on the voters. I can only speak for myself, and say that I haven't yet decided who I will be voting for on my final ballot.
Voting is done in rounds and I can say that Austin will at the least be on my ballot for the first few rounds before we get to the point of submitting our final 20. He's definitely in a group that I'm considering.
Making his Marc
Marcus Lee, what can we expect out of this kid? With the next rankings, will he be taking a jump or remaining around where he is? -- BC_in_06 (via message board)
Good question and one that I'm working on. I'm in the process of getting senior season game video of Lee to see how the 6-foot-9 Kentucky signee is coming along. I do know that he is putting up monster numbers -- in the neighborhood of 20 points and 20 rebounds per game -- according to what his coach has been reporting. Keep in mind, though, that much of his ranking at No. 18 nationally in the 2013 Rivals150 was based on the potential he has rather than actual production when he played against the nation's best over the summer. Right now, we've got him pretty high in the rankings and there's always a chance for movement up.
But much of where he ends up will depend on what those films show and how it compares to the other guys we see. In particular, has he gotten stronger? Has he improved his shooting and finishing?
Joel Embiid question, have you seen anymore of him so far this season? I'm hearing he's getting better and better every game. Curious to where you project he'll end up in the next rankings. -- GoGreene (via message board)
This question has come up a few times on the message board and the answer has always been that he will likely check in somewhere inside of the national top 50. We've really not yet started looking too much at final rankings and won't be doing so for a bit since the season isn't even halfway over in most places. Embiid shows considerable potential, but he's also still very new to the game and there's likely to be a bit of an adjustment from high school ball in Florida to an elite program such as Kansas. Embiid is going to be a very good player when it's all said and done and nobody can argue against the job Bill Self and his staff do in developing players, but given his inexperience I'm not sure that he'll be an instant impact player.
Mike Krzyzewski and his staff are always looking for wing shooters and of those three I feel that Booker would be the best fit for the Blue Devils system. The Moss Point (Miss.) High star is the best shooter of the group and plays a game pretty similar to many who have thrived at the two at Duke, whether they've run a more traditional motion offense or a system that is more focused on spreading the floor and utilizing more pick and roll action.
Players who are more catch-and-shoot types seem to thrive in Durham and that's what Booker does best. Vaughn and Hill can shoot the ball as well, but they are more rhythm shooters who like to handle the ball and get into a comfort zone than quick catch-and-fire guys. As for who is most likely to go there? I think it's a bit too early to make that determination.
What performance was better in Vegas over the weekend, Snoop's or Stephen Zimmerman's? -- @trigonis30 (via Twitter)
Sometimes on the road things come together and the opportunity to see a Snoop Dogg concert after the inaugural Tarkanian Classic wrapped up last weekend in Vegas was nice.
Snoop played pretty much everything that you would want to hear and the Hard Rock on the Vegas Strip provided a nice, intimate club venue for about 500 concertgoers.
However, the breakout star of Vegas was Zimmerman. The near seven-footer was fabulous for Bishop Gorman. A five-star sophomore, Zimmerman has always intrigued with his combination of size, fluidity and skill. Now, he's started to add production, physical play and a stronger mindset on the floor to his game. It doesn't hurt that Zimmerman is now fully healthy after being dogged by some injury issues during the spring and summer.
Is James Blackmon's play since returning from injury going to give him a chance to be a five-star in the next rankings for the class of 2014? --@HoosierBeezo (via Twitter)
That's not a question that can be answered until we get a better look at the Indiana commitment live and against some of his peers. I have been able to see some film of the shooting guard since his return from a knee injury and what I've seen has been promising. I know that Blackmon saw his ranking slip in some other places but he's in the top 50 (No. 47) of the 2014 Rivals150 and from what I've seen it looks to have been a wise move to not drop him.
A move to five-star status would be a pretty sizeable bump and that's a bridge we'll cross when we, as mentioned above, get a bit of a more up close and personal look at the future Hoosier. Bottom line, though, it's good to see that Blackmon is healthy and hasn't lost a step.