August 29, 2008

Meyer's Mailbag: Henry's family influences

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Aug 15: Stephenson keeps them guessing
Aug 8: Questions surround Riek
Aug 2: Who's No. 1 in 2011?
Once thought to be destined to follow in his father's footsteps to Kansas, is Xavier Henry now destined to follow his brother to Memphis?

What is the word on Kentucky's newest addition, Donald Williams?

Is there a scenario where North Carolina loses its present hold on the No. 1 spot in the 2009 team recruiting rankings?

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

Jerry's Mailbag
Henry to Memphis?

With the recent news of Xavier Henry's brother, C.J., committing to play for Memphis, one assumes that Xavier will soon follow. Your thoughts?

-- Kevin from Memphis
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I'm not ready to assume that Xavier will follow C.J. to Memphis. I certainly think that adding C.J. helps Memphis' cause of landing Xavier, but I don't think it is a forgone conclusion that Xavier will follow.

Here is what their father Carl Henry, who played basketball at Kansas, had to say to about the situation to Shay Wildeboor of JayhawkSlant.com:

"C.J.'s decision has absolutely no impact on Xavier's decision. He is still going to visit Kansas during their ring ceremony and during late night. That hasn't changed at all. Xavier is also going to visit Memphis. As far as a decision goes, he hasn't made one. Xavier is going to do what is best for him."

A better opportunity for playing time at Memphis was the main reason C.J. chose Memphis over Kansas. With Xavier, plenty of playing time will be available whether he chooses.

The next Durant?

How good did Tristan Thompson look to you over the summer? Is he the next Kevin Durant? How strong is his commitment to Texas? Is he still looking at other schools, or is he staying strong and going to Texas?

-- Stuart from San Antonio
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As far as I know Thompson is still strong in his commitment to Texas. I have no reason to believe otherwise.

As to how he looked this summer, he played well but does not have the skill level with the basketball to be a dominant scorer like Durant. Thompson has a similar build to Durant, but Thompson's game is limited to within 17 feet of the basket. Occasionally he will knock down the 17-footer, but what he is best at is attacking the basket with a couple dribbles and either getting to the rim or drawing a foul. To his credit, Thompson spent a lot of time at the free-throw line over the summer. Thompson also gets a lot of his scoring production off his offensive rebounding.

Remember, Durant came into Texas with NBA shooting range and the ballhandling skills of a guard. Thompson just isn't that type of player and is developing into being a four man with face-up skills.

Less evaluation

With the NCAA eliminating the April "live" period, what kind of impact does it have on a colleges recruiting? Does it impact the student-athlete or the college more? And how will it affect tournaments like Kingwood and the Pitt Jam Fest? Thanks!!

-- Rick from Orlando
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It is going to have a big impact on college recruiting, and it is going to hurt both the student-athletes and the college programs. Prospects who have just completed their senior year but have not yet signed with a school will be hurt the most. Every spring, a number of seniors earn scholarships by playing in front of coaches in April.

The elimination of the spring evaluation period is also going to cause even more rushed evaluations, and therefore poor evaluations, by college coaches in the month of July. Coaches used to be able to evaluate a prospect in April and then watch him again in July to make sure he is the right fit. With less time to evaluate, expect an increase in bad fits resulting in an increase in transfers once the coaches and players realize they made a mistake.

The tournaments will continue without the coaches, and players will try to impress the various scouts attending the April events. But the coaches will have to lean heavily on the opinions of those scouts and travel team coaches instead of being able to evaluate prospects with their own eyes. The coaches better be careful who they listen to, because what type of advice they get on players could make the difference in them either keeping or losing their jobs.

Eliminating the April evaluation period just doesn't look to me like a positive move by the NCAA.

Who's the new Wildcat?

Hey Jerry, what's the scoop on Kentucky's newest recruit Donald Williams? Why haven't any of the Big Blue Faithful heard of him before his commitment? If the Rivals150 Class of 2008 were to re-ordered, would Williams sneak into the mix?

-- Jeff from Lexington
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Here is what I wrote back in April after watching Williams play at the Kingwood Classic:

On the perimeter, Donald Williams had a superb game. He matched the production of Crandall Head. Williams' physical style of play and reliable shooting resembles Maryland commitment Sean Mosley's game, although Williams is more of a primary ballhandler.

Then over the Memorial Day weekend, Williams averaged 23 points per game at the Tournament of Champions and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Select Division.

The reason Williams isn't in the 2008 Rivals150 is that we didn't see him until after the spring Rivals150 had been released. Given the ability to rewind the clock, he would at the least be a ranked three-star prospect with the possibility of cracking the four-star range.

The important thing now is that Williams has the physical skills and ability to provide some quality depth for Kentucky in the backcourt. With the loss of perimeter scorers Ramal Bradley and Joe Crawford, Kentucky has a need for a player with Williams' abilities.

Can 'Nova catch UNC?

Should Villanova get Dominic Cheek and Aaric Murray, do you think they'll go up to No. 1 in the rankings for 09?

-- Eli from Wynnewood
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If everything stays as it stands right now, and if Villanova were to add Dominic Cheek (the No. 16 ranked prospect in the Rivals150) and Aaric Murray (the No. 35 ranked prospect in the Rivals150), then, yes, Villanova would have the No. 1 ranked 2009 recruiting class.

The Wildcats would have three five-star prospects with Cheek, Mouphtaou Yarou and Maalik Wayns to go along with Murray at No. 35 and Isaiah Armwood at No. 62.

North Carolina has two five-star prospects in the class, John Henson at No. 6 and Dexter Strickland at No. 17. And in the four-star range, the Tar Heels have Leslie McDonald at No. 55, David Wear at No. 68 and Travis Wear at No. 69.

Certainly this is a hypothetical recruiting class for Villanova, but it is a reasonable possibility that coach Jay Wright could land Cheek and Murray. The major story concerning Villanova's class, which isn't hypothetical at all, is that the Wildcats have the services of a dominant big man to look forward to in Yarou.

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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