October 12, 2007

Meyer's Mailbag: Class projections

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Oct 4: Has Monroe found a fit?
Sep 27: Next great UNC guard?
Arizona fans are excited about the school's 2008 recruiting class and are curious about where it ranks nationally.

North Carolina fans would like to know where its class would rank if the Tar Heels were to land its top two recruiting targets.

Texas fans are a little concerned that they don't have any commitments in the 2008 class.

The questions and more are addressed by national recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
Special class

In terms of top classes in the country, where does Arizona's 2008 class rank? What are the chances that Jerryd Bayless sticks around for a sophomore season to play with Brandon Jennings? How would a Bayless/Jennings backcourt rank in UA history?

-- Brian from Phoenix
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I like Arizona's 2008 recruiting class as the No. 5 recruiting class at this point, behind UCLA, Florida, Wake Forest and Ohio State. Jennings (No. 8 player in class) is a dynamic difference-maker at point guard. Emmanuel Negedu (No. 31) is as explosive an athlete as any prospect in the class. Jeff Withey (No. 39) is a skilled post who complements the athleticism of Negedu well. And Brandon Lavendar has the mentality and skills to be a productive role player.

If Bayless has a good freshman season, he certainly will have the opportunity to be a first-round pick after the season. And I don't think he has to prove that he is a point guard. He would be a little undersized as an NBA shooting guard, but he has the strength, athleticism and just pure scoring ability to make up for it. I would compare him to Eric Gordon in this regard. Both of these prospects have a chance to be a Dwyane Wade-type player in the NBA. They're not necessarily point guards, but playmakers who can handle the ball as the point guard when needed.

Would Bayless forego the draft and stay for his sophomore season? I don't know. If he does stay, he and Jennings certainly would have to chance to be Arizona's best-ever guard combination. The talent is there; the question would be whether they could develop the necessary chemistry.

Louisville with the lead?

What do you think the chances of Louisville landing Terrence Jennings? What about Tyreke Evans?

-- Kyle from Bowling Green
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Despite having categorically denied any involvement with Louisville during his transfer from Durham (N.C.) Mt. Zion to Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame Prep, Jennings appears to be headed to Louisville this weekend for a visit. Based on the ties between Notre Dame Prep and Louisville and the unwillingness of Jennings and those around him to comment on his being recruited by Louisville, I'd say Louisville has the best chance of landing Jennings if he does indeed qualify academically.

I also think Louisville is the leader for Evans. And what a 2008 recruiting haul that would be if Rick Pitino adds Evans (the No. 6 prospect) and Jennings (No. 15) to Samardo Samuels, the No. 7 prospect, and three-star prospect Melquan Bolding. This hypothetical class looks like a No. 1 recruiting class to me.

Dream class

I'm a huge Tar Heel fan. If UNC were to get both Tyler Zeller and Iman Shumpert, where would you rank their 2008 class?

-- Jacob from Knoxville
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The odds aren't that good for North Carolina to land both, but the Tar Heels certainly have a chance - and we certainly aren't opposed to breaking down hypothetical recruiting classes.

UNC already has commitments from Ed Davis, the No. 20 prospect, and Larry Drew, the No. 78 prospect. Add Zeller (No. 22) and Shumpert (No. 26), and I would give North Carolina's class the edge over UCLA's present class for the No. 1 spot.

The positional diversity of UNC's hypothetical four-man class gives it a slight edge over UCLA's four-man class of Jrue Holiday (No. 3), Jerime Anderson (No. 48), Drew Gordon (No. 49) and Malcolm Lee (No. 51).

Four or five?

What is your take on Milton Jennings from South Carolina? What do you project him at the college level? Some say he can play the "four," as well as the "five."

-- Trey from Greenville
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Our No. 59 prospect in the class of 2009, Jennings is a valued prospect as a skilled power forward. Jennings has strong face-up skills and is much more of a "four" power forward than he is a "five" center. In fact, one of the main areas where Jennings could improve is being more physical around the basket. His body still is developing, and he should be able to play the four and the five in college, but at this point, he projects primarily as a four.

Time to panic?

How come Texas hasn't landed a recruit yet for the 2008 class? And how many available scholarships do they have for 2008?

-- Carlan from Austin
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Your second question basically answers your first question. Texas has one scholarship senior on the roster. With D.J. Augustin expected to enter the draft after the season, the Longhorns are likely to sign two prospects. Thus, there is not a pressing need to secure early commitments.

Texas is involved with five prospects in the 2008 class, including notable elite prospects Greg Monroe and Tyreke Evans. Monroe, who will visit Georgetown this weekend, is expected to visit Texas on Oct. 19. Evans is expected to visit Texas on Nov. 2. That same weekend, in-state four-star prospect J'Covan Brown is tentatively slated to visit Texas as well.

Georgia small forward Wesley Witherspoon is an intriguing prospect for the Texas coaching staff because of his length and versatility. At this point, Witherspoon intends to wait until the spring to sign, so Texas has some time to work with in recruiting him.

The last prospect of interest to Texas is small forward Jeff Taylor. He visited Texas the last weekend of September, but the coaching staff is waiting to see what happens with Monroe and Evans before pushing the issue with Taylor.

So there is no need to panic in Austin. Texas' recruiting is moving along at just the right pace.

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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