January 25, 2008

Meyer's Mailbag: One and done

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Jan 17: Making a move on Sidney
Jan 10: Heels load up on bigs
Jan 3: Tracking the tournaments
What prospects in the 2008 class are likely headed to the NBA after one year? Which prospects are potential long-term program changers?

Will Cincinnati signee Yancy Gates rise in the rankings after his impressive performance on television against B.J. Mullens?

These questions and more are addressed by National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
One and done

Many freshman this year are making a major impact in the NCAA, but - as we know - many of them will probably be one-and-done players. Which recruits from the 2008 year do you think will be one-and-done and which ones will have a chance to be a program-changer over the years?

-- Matt from Marietta
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The top nine prospects in the Rivals150 will likely have the opportunity to be first-round picks in the 2009 draft. And I say by the 2009 draft since it is almost certain that John Riek will enter the draft this year as an age-eligible post-grad player. Here is a rundown on the other eight prospects:

Greg Monroe -The talent is there, but is the fire there? It is tough enough to put up numbers in Georgetown's system.

Demar DeRozan - Probably one of the safer bets to be one and done since it is a sure thing that he can be a big scorer in the NBA. The questions revolve around the other aspects of his game.

Jrue Holiday - No need to convince us that he is the best and most complete perimeter player in this class, but will he get the chance in a potentially loaded UCLA backcourt to to convince the NBA exectives?

B.J. Mullens - A 7-footer who can do the things Mullens can do should go extremely high in the draft - even if he doesn't have a dominant freshman year.

Tyreke Evans - Expect big numbers from Evans - wherever he plays. He has a mature game, and he has been thinking NBA for a number of years.

Samardo Samuels- A Tyler Hansbrough/Kevin Love type, Samuels should produce double/double numbers from Day One for Louisville.

Brandon Jennings - Needs to develop physically to handle the rigors of the NBA, but the talent and speed is there. He should put up big numbers at Arizona, especially if Jerryd Bayless leaves for the NBA.

Scotty Hopson - Hopson is oozing with NBA talent, but he has a long way to go in terms of attitude and effort. He could catapult his NBA status with a higher energy approach to the game during his freshman year.

Now, if one of these prospects sticks around like Hansbrough has done at North Carolina, you have a program changer.

The Florida-bound duo of Eloy Vargas and Kenny Kadji could develop into players like the ones Gator fans got used to the past couple years.

Wake Forests three-man class of five-star frontline players could catapult that program into the upper echelon of the ACC.

Anthony Booker gives Southern Illinois a potential All-Conference player, and Michael Dunigan gives Oregon an inside presence that the Ducks haven't enjoyed lately.

These are a few examples of potential program changers, but more often than not long-term program changers are the ones that are overlooked early on in the process.

Ohio's best

With Yancy Gates winning his matchup against B.J. Mullens, is Gates clearly the best big man in Ohio? Will his placement in the next set of rankings reflect that?

-- Dan from Cincinnati
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Gates did play very well against Mullens in Cincinnati Withrow's 58-57 win over Canal Winchester, but Mullens is clearly the best big man in Ohio - if not the entire country.

Gates played as well as I've ever seen him play, scoring 25 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Mullens, on the other side, had 16 points and 19 rebounds.

Both players have tremendous size, athleticism and skill. Mullens, as was evident at times during this game, just doesn't always play with the highest energy level. Gates also has the tendency to play with less than the highest energy level, but that is not the primary reason he is ranked in the lower level of our four-star prospects. A lot of top prospects have difficulty maintaining a high level of effort.

Gates' suspect motor hasn't helped him in our rankings, but the problem has been more that he has only shown flashes of being a skilled basketball player. He has never put his talents together in any sort of cohesive and competitive way when we have scouted him in the spring and summer. In his televised matchup against Mullens, however, we saw a top-50 prospect in Gates. He showed a wide range of skills, played with some energy and competed.

So, yes ... Gates is going to move up in the rankings. We have confidence now that he is not just a physical freak, but a physical freak with a competitive streak and a game that can make a significant impact in the Big East.

Finding a fit

Which of the top-five high school players would fit perfectly into Coach (Mike Krzyzewski's) system?

-- Franco from Cibecue
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There are several angles in this question worth discussing. First of all, fitting into a program's system is vitally important. There are some programs out there that seem to solely recruit off the rankings, and these are typically the programs that bring in quality recruiting classes but don't seem to do much with them. As you would suspect, these programs lack an identity - and therefore lack a sense of purpose out on the court.

Coach K does have a system at Duke. But as is evident this year, it is a fluid system that he is willing to adjust according to his personnel. There is typically give-and-take between the system and personal. Any coach would love to recruit only players that perfectly fit the system he prefers to employ, but any smart coach knows that you can't always do this. Often you have to tweak your system to mesh with the players that you can land.

However, there are aspects of Coach K's system that are not fluid. These aspects are of a conceptual nature and not, at least directly, of an Xs and Os nature. Coach K demands that his players play hard, play smart and play together. Now these concepts are not unique to Duke. You can see them in all the successful programs in the country.

So when you look at the top prospects in any class, you are looking at five elite prospects. Being an elite prospect by nature means that prospect can be successful in any system - as long as that prospect is capable of playing with energy, playing intelligently and playing unselfishly.

If we take the 2009 class for example, Renardo Sidney, Xavier Henry, Derrick Favors, Lance Stephenson and Demarcus Cousins are all talented enough to play in any type of system. That is part of why they are top-five prospects. The question is more of whether they have the character traits to fit into a team-oriented system like Duke's.

Without breaking down these five prospects in detail, let's just suffice it to say that they all have blemishes to their game and their approach to the game in differing degrees. Obviously, no player is perfect. And contrary to statements made by Larry Brown during our Olympic basketball fiasco, coaches are supposed to coach effort.

Beyond effort, coaches are supposed to coach intelligent play and unselfish play. Those are the three cornerstones of basketball. Perhaps I'm too optimistic, but I have to believe that despite any shortcomings, all five of these prospects can play hard enough, smart enough and unselfish enough to play for any program in the country.

Turning the other Cheek

I'm noticing that Dominic Cheek is no longer showing up on North Carolina's recruiting board. What's the deal with that, and who is the favorite to take the open shooting guard spot in North Carolina's recruiting class for 2009?

-- Jason from Wilmington
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Cheek and North Carolina have parted ways. On the heels of landing four five-star prospects in the 2009 class, the Tar Heels appear to have Leslie McDonald targeted as the final piece of a mind-blowing recruiting class comprised of five five-star prospects.

McDonald, who plans to visit North Carolina and Duke before the season ends, is also considering Indiana, Memphis and Tennessee. So the Memphis native is by no means a shoe-in for North Carolina.

Texas guard Nolan Dennis, who is also a five-star prospect, is another North Carolina target. Like McDonald, Dennis also has a lengthy list of schools. So, after a record breaking string of five-star commitments, North Carolina fans might have to have a little patience before another big-time prospect commits.

All-Americans

With the basketball season nearing the end, can you name the top 12 seniors from the East and West coasts, that have distinguished themselves as end of year All-American candidates. Who can we expect to see in the McDonald's All-American game??? Thanks!

-- Justin from Indianapolis
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I'm not going to try and divide prospects geographically since it is not executed as an exact science by the McDonald's people, but here is a list of the players I expect to be in the game:

Greg Monroe, Demar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, B.J. Mullens, Tyreke Evans, Samardo Samuels, Brandon Jennings, Al-Farouq Aminu, Elliot Williams, William Buford, Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller, Jamychal Green and Luke Babbitt.

Here is a list of likely-to-possible participants:

Scotty Hopson, Eloy Vargas, Willie Warren, Devin Ebanks, Kenny Kadji, DeAndre Liggins, J'Mison Morgan, Angel Garcia, Howard Thompkins, Michael Dunigan, Chris Singleton, Kemba Walker, Dequan Jones, Darius Miller, Malcolm Lee, Sylven Landesberg and Mike Rosario.

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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