September 20, 2007

Meyer's Mailbag: Who's next for KU?

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Sep 13: Miller's impact
Sep 7: Method to visit madness?
Kansas could lose anywhere from five to nine scholarship players after this season, so it's no surprise Jayhawks fans are curious about what coach Bill Self has cooking on the recruiting front.

Indiana fans are curious about newest commitment Tom Pritchard.

And could there be a parallel between the recruitment of Tyreke Evans and the recruitment of Derrick Rose last year?

National recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer explores these issues and more in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
Help for KU

Kansas is going to need a lot of help next year depending on who goes and who stays. It's a safe bet that if he's healthy, Brandon Rush will go to the NBA, as will Darrell Arthur. That leaves huge gaps. Who do you think KU will land that will help to fill those voids since only Travis Releford has committed? Is Greg Monroe a possibility, and what about Willie Warren and J'Mison Morgan? Others?

-- Brian from Newton
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There definitely will be some large gaps to fill on Kansas' roster after this season. I agree that Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur are very likely headed to the NBA. It is also my understanding that five scholarships will open up out of the senior class. There also is the possibility that Sherron Collins and/or Mario Chalmers leaves for the NBA. So worst-case scenario for Kansas fans is that only four scholarship players return. Best-case scenario, eight scholarship players return. I'd put the over/under at six scholarship players returning, with seven scholarships available for the 2008 recruiting class.

Kansas does have one commitment, from Releford, a solid four-star prospect. It is a safe bet the Kansas City native will sign this fall. Here is a look at the other KU targets:

Greg Monroe (No. 1 ranking): Kansas is one of the eight schools with an in-home visit, and Self is known for working some magic while in the home of a prospect. Kansas already is expected to make the cut for an official visit.

Willie Warren (No. 12 ranking): The Warren camp has been tight-lipped lately about Willie's recruiting situation, but it is likely Kansas gets an official visit from the five-star guard.

J'Mison Morgan (No. 23 ranking)- Down to Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, LSU, Louisville and UCLA, Morgan has already visited LSU and Kansas. This weekend the five-star center is on the west coast visiting UCLA. Morgan has been a prime target for the Jayhawks for some time, and they are hoping the Darrell Arthur/Dallas South Oak Cliff High School connection can help them land him.

Marcus Morris and Markeiff Morris (Nos. 37 and 74 rankings): The former Memphis commitments recently decommitted, and Kansas was one of the first schools to pop up in connection with the twins once they opened up their recruitment.

Quintrell Thomas (Three-star prospect): The KU coaching staff is high on Thomas, an athletic rebounding and shot-blocking machine. Thomas is scheduled to visit Maryland this weekend and Kansas at the end of the month. He already has visited Rutgers, and UNLV gets a visit in October.

Wesley Witherspoon (No. 57 ranking): A vast number of schools are pursuing this versatile forward. Kansas squarely is in the mix, and Self was expected to be in the home late this week.

Terrance Henry (No. 85 ranking): It might be tough to lure this Louisiana forward out of the southeast, but Kansas is giving it a strong effort. Henry is scheduled to visit the opening weekend of practice, but he has trips to Ole Miss, Arkansas and LSU beforehand. A visit to Miami is on the docket for the weekend after the scheduled trip to Kansas.

Tyshawn Taylor (No. 104 ranking): Kansas coaches feel Taylor has the ability to step in for Russell Robinson and play right away in the Big 12. Athletic and skilled, Taylor fits the mold of Kansas guards. He doesn't have a visit to KU scheduled at this point, but does have trips scheduled for Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Virginia.

Mario Little (junior college prospect): Kansas would love to land this talented forward, but so would Kansas State and Illinois. Little already has visited the two Kansas schools.

More of the same?

Tyreke Evans seems to be one of the hottest recruits out there right now. It used to be Louisville and 'Nova were the main players for his services, with Texas, Memphis and UConn also in the mix. But now Seton Hall seems to be a serious player after an in-home visit. With this recruitment coming down the stretch, how do you see this playing out and do you see Seton Hall with a legitimate shot of landing him?

-- Jon from Newark
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I do not know how Evans' recruitment is going to end, but I will speculate on my gut feeling. I sense that it will follow very similar lines to the recruitment of Derrick Rose last year. With Rose, Memphis was regarded as the leader early. Then as the summer wore on and into the fall, other schools popped up as legitimate contenders to sign him. But in the end, Memphis was the school.

I wouldn't be surprised if Louisville is to Evans what Memphis was to Rose and if the hometown school, Villanova, ends up being what DePaul was to Rose, a Chicago native. Illinois, who popped up late in Rose's recruitment, could have been in the same role that Seton Hall is playing in Evans' recruitment.

Now, I might be way off, but it's something to ponder.

IU unknown

Who is this Tom Pritchard that Indiana got, and what position will he be able to play in college?

-- Mike from Logansport
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Pritchard is a 6-foot-8, 240-pound post player from Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward High School. The unranked three-star prospect is both a travel-team and high school teammate of five-star Michigan State commitment Delvon Roe.

Pritchard, who chose Indiana over Penn State, was a mid-major prospect before he had a strong showing at the end of July in Las Vegas and Orlando. An average athlete at best by high-major standards, Pritchard is a highly skilled post man with physical strength. A left-hander, he excels at the high/low game; he can score with either hand on back-to-the-basket moves and is an excellent passer from the high post. He and Roe form quite a tandem in this offensive action.

In Pritchard, Indiana is getting a solid role player who will bang inside, be an opportunistic scorer and make others around him better with his passing and intelligence. I see him playing in the low post and high post offensively for Indiana. On defense, he is better-suited to defend in the interior than on the perimeter.

Pay your own way

How many unofficial college visits can a prospect have?

-- Tahj from Jacksonville
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There is no limit on the number of unofficial visits. As for official visits, a prospect can take up to five during his senior year if he has taken either the ACT or SAT. Besides the restrictions on when you can take the visit and how many you can take, the main difference between an official visit and an unofficial is that the prospect must pick up the tab on the unofficial; the school picks up the tab on an official visit.

The growing prevalence of unofficial visits is one of the main reasons for the surge in early commitments. A growing number of prospects commit before they get to their official visits because they have garnered the necessary information to make a college decision through trips they have taken on their own.

Then next big thing

When do you think we will see another player who is head and shoulders above his classmates like LeBron James? And do you think Brandon Knight has the possibility to be that guy?

-- Luke from Amherst
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You have to think that another LeBron James-type player will eventually arrive on the horizon, but I sure don't know when. It might be quite a while before we see a player with the combination of size, explosiveness, skill, competitiveness and intelligence that James possesses. As the game progresses and players evolve, perhaps another LeBron will emerge. However, I wouldn't be surprised if I never see that player emerge in my lifetime.

As for Brandon Knight, he is a top-three prospect, but it is not even a certainty that he is the best point guard prospect in the country in his class. When you talk LeBron James, you are talking about a no-brainer, No. 1 prospect who was head and shoulders above everyone and was at the top of practically every category in which you measure a prospect.

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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