June 29, 2007

Mailbag: New commit could affect UK recruiting

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature:

June 22: UNC needs momentum boost
June 15: Focus on the top targets
June 8: 'Zona has inside track on big man
Now that Kentucky has its first 2008 commitment in five-star prospect DeAndre Liggins, Wildcats fans are anxious to see who will be the next to commit.

Also, Wake Forest fans are excited about the possibility of landing two more five-star players in the 2008 class.

National Basketball and Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer coves these topics and others in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
The Liggins effect

I have seen numerous threads about the recent commitment of DeAndre Liggins to Kentucky and how that affects Darius Miller's, Willie Warren's and Rotnei Clarke's decisions. Does Liggins' commitment hurt UK's chance to land any of these guys? Does Liggins commitment help UK's chance of landing Tyler Zeller, considering they play on the same AAU team?

-- Jared from Harlan
After securing commitments from some underclassmen, coach Billy Gillispie now has Kentucky on the board with a 2008 commitment. Five-star point guard DeAndre Liggins committed to the Wildcats on Wednesday afternoon. Here is my quick take on how Liggins' pledge will affect the class.

Although Willie Warren will not accompany Rotnei Clarke on Clarke's visit to Kentucky this weekend, Warren did tell me on Thursday that Liggins' commitment has no affect on his recruitment by Kentucky.

In fact, you could easily play all three of these guards at the same time. Any one of them could run the point, but I like Liggins in that role offensively. It would create a beneficial matchup because Liggins would guard the other team's small forward, and that player would likely guard him out front. That means a shooting guard would likely chase Clarke. Warren would roam between all the guard positions on offense and also guard the most athletic of the opposing guards. Clarke could cover the least athletic guard.

I don't know Darius Miller's take on Liggins' commitment, but Miller is more of a traditional small forward than Liggins. Miller can also move to the four position in a small lineup. The point is that all four of these players are different and could coexist without much trouble.

But what Kentucky really needs is a standout post player. The Wildcats are focused on five-star standout Tyler Zeller. There is a comfort level between Zeller and Liggins from playing together with the Indiana Elite. Securing the pass-first Liggins could only help Kentucky in its pursuit of Zeller.

Wake-ing up

With Ty Walker already on board, do you think it hurts Wake Forest's chances with Al-Farouq Aminu and Tony Woods? They said they would like to play together, and Woods and Walker are both centers.

-- Jared from Durham
Wake Forest has a great chance at landing Al-Farouq Aminu and Tony Woods, both five-star prospects and teammates on the Georgia Stars. Woods told me at the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival last week that he was down to Wake Forest and Florida, but is favoring Wake. Florida has just landed a true center in Kenny Kadji, which probably only strengthens Wake Forest's position.

Woods is a much better fit with Ty Walker, who has committed to Wake Forest, than he is with Kadji. Walker can play the power forward position. When he plays with Ed Davis on the Boo Williams travel squad, he spends a lot of time in the high post feeding Davis - who posts up down low.

I even asked Woods what he thought about Walker already being at Wake Forest. Woods spoke as if it were a positive that Walker will be there. Woods said he liked Walker as a person and that they would be a great one-two punch as teammates.

As for Aminu, he seems to be more torn between his top two schools - Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. Aminu has a brother on the Georgia Tech team, he lives in Atlanta and several of his teammates and friends are at Georgia Tech. However, there seems to be a very strong sentiment between Woods and Aminu that they want to play together. And as strong as Aminu's connections to Georgia Tech are, I also think going away from home for college is also attractive to him.

Ceiling for Releford

How much upside does Travis Releford have? He has fallen in your rankings lately but seems to me that he can only improve at Kansas under Coach (Bill) Self.

-- Sam from Chicago
Travis Releford is a solid prospect who played a positive role for his team at the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival. I have a lot of respect for his game as a significant role player for a team like Kansas, but I wouldn't categorize Releford as a player with a lot of upside. He is a deserving four-star prospect, but a top-25 ranking is too high.

Releford is not a great athlete, but he plays with strength and intelligence. In Colorado Springs, he did the best job of any guard there defending Jrue Holiday. He also was productive as a rebounder. Releford avoided negative plays while having a knack for being in the right spot at the right time.

As far as improving, the one area where Releford could enhance his game the most is by improving his consistency as a 3-point shooter. If Self can count on him to knock down the open 3-pointer, Releford could play a big role for a top-level team.

Walker on the way up

Why is Kemba Walker rated so low, especially after what he did in the Bronx this past weekend. I know point guards are weak this year, but I was wondering if he will be a top-50 player sometime soon in your eyes.

-- Bill from Middleton
Kemba Walker is underranked because we didn't realize his prowess as a point guard until we watched him play in the month of May. We haven't updated the class of 2008 rankings since then, but we plan to in the near future. Walker is poised to make a big jump. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he checks in as our top point guard in the four-star range.

Davis or Roe?

Having seen Ed Davis and Delvon Roe for such a long period of time in Colorado, can you explain the differences in their game to us Tar Heels fans? Who do you think is the better prospect and why?

-- Ben from Chapel Hill
Although Ed Davis is presently ranked No. 5 and Delvon Roe is ranked No. 10, Roe certainly raised his stock with his play at the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival. He closed, if not erased, the gap between he and Davis.

Davis is a smooth post player with an inch or so over Roe when you consider his reach. Both players are lefties, and have more-than-reliable jump hooks.

There are a few things we saw from Roe in Colorado Springs which might alter their present rankings. Roe has a better motor and is a bouncier athlete than Davis. He is also quicker than Davis and looks to be developing legitimate small forward skills. There is no doubt that Roe can guard a small forward, while Davis cannot. They are both similar defenders in the low post and rebound at a similar rate. Roe's motor, however, might make him a little better offensive rebounder - especially if he is playing the small forward position.

Offensively, both players are quite similar in the low post, but Roe has the edge on the perimeter. He shot the ball well from the mid-range, and even hit four of 10 3-point attempts during the event. The weaknesses in Roe's game right now are his ballhandling and passing. Sometimes Roe's motor works against him, and he tries to play too fast with the ball. Davis plays with a little more poise with the ball in his hands.

Jerry Meyer is a national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. Click here to send him a question or comment for his Mailbag.


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