September 27, 2007

Meyer's Mailbag: Next great UNC guard?

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Sep 20: Who's next for KU?
Sep 13: Miller's impact
How does Tyler Zeller compare to Tyler Hansbrough?

Is there a reason more prospects seem to be decommitting?

How does 2010 five-star point guard Kendall Marshall compare to some of the great point guards of late at North Carolina?

National recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer tackles these questions and more in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
Replacing Hansbrough

What do you think of Tyler Zeller? If he decides to commit to North Carolina, can he be the next Hansbrough?

-- Phil from Seaford
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I think Tyler Zeller is a skilled big man and a great prospect, but he is a different player than Hansbrough. As we all know, Hansbrough plays with a ferocious edge and a high-octane engine. He is a brute around the basket who would rather go through a defender than around him. Away from the basket, Hansbrough has a rather limited skill set, although it has improved during his time at North Carolina.

Zeller, on the other hand, excels in pick-and-pop situations on the perimeter. He is an absolutely great shooter in the 12- to 17-foot range. He also has a nice back-to-the-basket game, but it is much more oriented toward getting around a defender than bullying through a defender.

What the two definitely have in common is the ability to beat their opponent down the court in transition. Zeller consistently picked up three or so easy buckets per game on the travel circuit off his ability to run the court.

Keeping commitments

What do you think is driving the recent trend of decommitments (i.e., Terrence Jennings and the Morris twins)? What schools do you think will benefit from the sudden availability of quality players?

-- Adam from Clarksville
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The trend of early commitments is what is driving the trend of decommitments. It just makes sense that the more time between committing and signing the Letter of Intent, the better the chances of a decommitment. Coaching changes, recruiting developments, change of handlers for the prospect, a desire for the attention the recruiting process brings, cold feet or simply just a change of heart can take place during the time between committing and signing.

Now for the prospects that you specifically mentioned. Terrence Jennings didn't necessarily commit early to Maryland. He is beginning what he expects to be his last year of high school and committed before taking an official visit to a school. Apparently, the unofficial visit he took to College Park wasn't sufficient.

With Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris, the twins committed to Memphis roughly a year ago and signed with Memphis before deciding to spend a year in prep school. In the meantime, Memphis received a commitment from Angel Garcia, a top power forward prospect who plays the same position as the twins.

It's hard to say what schools will benefit from the decommitments, but it is rare for a prospect to recommit to the school he decommitted from, regardless of what the prospect might say about that school. There are a lot of factors behind the scenes driving the decommitment process.

Henson has skill

Does John Henson remind you at all of Channing Frye, having the ability to play down low and step outside for mid-range jumpers? And do you see him playing in more of an up-tempo or grind-it-out system? Also, it seems as if North Carolina and Arizona are strong with both John and the Wear twins; do you see all three fitting in together at a single program?

-- Dave from Tucson
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John Henson does resemble Channing Frye in that he is a thin finesse player. The difference is that Henson is more of a skilled small forward type, who generally works from the outside in. Frye as a college player was more of a finesse, back-to-the-basket player who - like you said - had the capability to step outside and make shots. Henson is more of the type who can grab a defensive rebound and take it coast-to-coast.

Without a doubt, Henson is more suited for an up-tempo system than a grind-it-out system. He is a guy who plays better in open space rather than constricted space.

It might be tough to fit Henson and Travis Wear and David Wear into the same lineup, but it is conceivable. All three are primarily skilled power forwards.

It wouldn't be a stretch to have all three on the court offensively, as they all will be quality inside/outside players in college. It would be tougher on the defensive end. Henson could develop the ability to guard small forwards with the right matchup. David Wear conceivably could guard a center.

I just don't know that there would be enough speed between the three prospects to play a lot of minutes on the floor together in an up-tempo system. But there might be enough minutes between two positions to satisfy the three.

Fit for Sampson

Would Ralph Sampson III be better off playing for Minnesota in a more deliberate inside-oriented program or should he go to a high-profile team such as Kentucky that still has a need for a reliable athletic center? After all, UK missed out on his father years ago by a slim margin.

-- Mike from Lexington
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I'm not sure where Ralph Sampson III would be best-suited because it hits on a theoretical question that seems to have two correct answers depending on how you look at it. Is a prospect better off playing in a system he is comfortable with, or is he better off playing in a system that challenges him to expand his game?

I think Sampson is best-suited for a more-deliberate, double-post attack. But would it be better for Sampson's development to have to play in a faster system that has more of a four out/one in look?

We don't know exactly what Tubby Smith and Billy Gillispie will run with their new teams, but I'm intrigued conceptually with this question. I think it's a question that any prospect really needs to ponder before choosing a school: "Am I better off maximizing what I do best and accentuating my strengths? Am I better off jumping into a challenging situation that will force me to improve my weaknesses and expand my game?"

Elite company?

North Carolina has had a nice run recruiting big-time point guards (Ray Felton, Ty Lawson, Larry Drew). Although he is young, how does Kendall Marshall stack up with UNC's recent group of talented point guards?

-- Andrew from San Diego
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First of all, Larry Drew is a nice player, but I wouldn't put him in the same category as Felton and Lawson.

Now, does Kendall Marshall belong in the same category as Felton and Lawson? Ultimately time will tell, but as it stands now - with Marshall being a high school sophomore - it looks as if he does. The one thing Felton and Lawson have that Marshall doesn't is exceptional speed with the basketball. What Marshall has over Felton and Lawson is a better basketball IQ and feel for the game. In addition, Marshall is a better shooter.

Marshall also has the makings of being an elite point guard of the same caliber as Felton and Lawson.

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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