October 2, 2008

Meyer's Mailbag: KU, UM battle for top guards

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Sept 26: Breaking down the big commits
Sept 19: Duke's new approach
Sept 4: Kelly is rising fast
Does Memphis land the top two guards in the country in John Wall and Xavier Henry?

What kind of impact will four-star prospect Rakeem Buckles have at Louisville? Could he be the next Earl Clark?

What about five-star Greg Monroe, what will he mean for Georgetown?

National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer addresses these questions and more in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
Tiger targets

What are the odds that Memphis will get both Xavier Henry and John Wall for '09. Does KU settle for Dominic Cheek and Thomas Robinson? Is that a significant drop-off from Wall and Henry?

-- Michael from Springfield
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I believe the odds are favorable for Memphis landing both Henry and Wall. Henry is down to Kansas and Memphis, and his brother C.J. Henry just joined the Tigers' roster. Wall has always been high on Memphis, and his style of play is a perfect fit for the dribble-drive offense the Tigers employ.

Certainly Kansas is strong with Wall after playing host to him for an official visit. Baylor is also a player after hiring Wall's travel team coach, Dwon Clifton.

Now if Kansas were to land Cheek and Robinson, I wouldn't consider it "settling" even if they were to miss on Henry and Wall. Yes, Henry and Wall are elite talents. But I can't envision either of them being in school more than one year. With Cheek and Robinson, you have two legitimate five-star prospects who will be in college at least a couple years - likely three or four years. Cheek is a talented wing who can score in bunches, and Robinson is one of the top rebounders in the 2009 class.

Impact Cardinal

Do you see Rakeem Buckles having a major impact right away when he joins the Cardinals in 2009? Where do you think Louisville's 09 class will turn out in the final class rankings based on who they're recruiting now and the signing of Peyton Siva and Mike Marra?

-- Nolan from Louisville
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I definitely think Buckles, the No. 40 ranked prospect in the Rivals150, will make a major impact for Louisville. However, I'm not sure exactly when that will happen. Buckles could easily follow a similar career path as current Cardinal Earl Clark. Like Clark, Buckles is long, athletic and skilled. Also like Clark, though, Buckles will likely come to Louisville with the need to put on weight and get stronger. Strength is more important for Buckles because his strength is not shooting the ball from the outside.

Right now Louisville's 2009 recruiting class stands at No. 9 nationally. If they can land one of their two targets in low four-star prospects Aaron Dotson and Andrew Fitzgerald, they will likely stay around the same area in the rankings. If the Cardinals land both prospects, they could move up a bit.

Fitting into the system

I was wondering what your thoughts were on Greg Monroe's impact on the Hoyas. He will be more athletic and versatile than Roy Hibbert, but may not replace his defensive presence on the interior. Also, how do you think Chris Wright and Jason Clark will fill Jonathan Wallace's shoes, and how far do you see the Hoyas going in the NCAAs?

-- E. Sheffy from Toronto
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Don't expect big numbers from Monroe, due in a large part to the Georgetown system. However, he will be a vital contributor to their attack. In fact, Monroe's greatest attribute his passing ability - will be counted on heavily. I agree that Monroe will not be the defensive presence that Hibbert was, but Monroe will run the court better and is a more polished offensive player than Hibbert was coming into Georgetown.

Wright and Clark are talented players. In fact, they were more highly ranked than Wallace coming into Georgetown. Wallace outperformed expectations as a heady point guard who consistently knocked down 3-pointers, many of those in the clutch. Whether Wright and Clark can bring stability to the position like Wallace did is perhaps the biggest question mark for Georgetown going into the season.

It's tough to predict where a team will finish in the tournament before the season begins, but I do expect Georgetown to be a top-20 team. Their unique system will always make them difficult to play against. If things come together with their personnel, they could easily be a top-10 team.

Minnesota moving up

Where does Minnesota's 2010 class rank in comparison with other major schools? Can you evaluate each player? What other major prospects does Tubby have his eye on?

-- Jesse from Brooklyn
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Minnesota registers at No. 17 nationally in Rivals.com's 2009 team recruiting ranking. In the Big Ten, Minnesota is third behind Indiana, who is No. 3 nationally, and Illinois (No. 6).

Minnesota's three-prospect recruiting class is headlined by five-star forward Royce White. A physical combo forward, White is a dangerous post-up player and a threat off the dribble as well. He also made shots from behind the arc this summer. What really gives White value is that he is a legitimate combo forward who can excel at both the four and the three spots. He can defend both positions and has the physical strength to make an impact from Day One.

A Minnesota product like White, Rodney Williams is a small forward with terrific athleticism. A big-time leaper, Williams does his best work along the baseline. For Williams, the No. 95 ranked prospect in the Rivals150, to be an impact player for Minnesota a couple things need to happen. One, he needs to get physically stronger so more of his athleticism can translate to the rugged Big Ten. Secondly, his skill level and feel for the game need to improve. Williams will probably never be an great ballhandler, but he does need to at least be solid with the ball. He also needs to be capable of knocking down shots.

Justin Cobbs, a three-star prospect out of California, is a physical point guard who is capable and willing to distribute the basketball. He is also a tough defender. I don't know if Cobbs will be a starter at Minnesota, but I do expect him to at least contribute off the bench and play valuable minutes.

NBA prospects

Who is the most NBA ready player in the class of 2010?

-- Lee from San Antonio
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It's sort of tough to gauge NBA readiness for juniors in high school, since none of these players are actually ready for that level of play. But in regards to most ready, I'd put it as a toss-up between our top two prospects - Josh Smith and Brandon Knight.

Smith, a 6-foot-10, 270-pound center, has the strength to play against men. If he grows an expected two or three more inches, he'll have legitimate NBA size as a center. Smith also has the skill level to play at the highest level. He can score to either shoulder in the post, is explosive enough to dunk in a crowd without taking a step, has a soft touch on his midrange shot and is an adept shot blocker.

Knight, a 6-foot-3, 170-pound point guard, has everything you look for in a point guard - tight handle, speed, quickness, feel for the game, passion for competing, scoring ability and defensive and rebounding prowess. He doesn't yet have the strength of a grown man, but he is s in the process of adding more muscle mass.

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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