February 6, 2009

Meyer's Mailbag: Stephenson, Cousins still looking

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Jan 30: Five-star possibilities
Jan 23: Rankings climb for Tech
Jan 16: Buckner is one to watch
What is the latest on top 10 prospects and unsigned seniors DeMarcus Cousins and Lance Stephenson?

Is there help on the way for the Indiana basketball program?

What is the breakdown on 2011 elite big man James McAdoo?

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

Jerry's Mailbag
Moving on

Is it true that Lance Stephenson officially dropped Memphis from consideration? And any update on DeMarcus Cousins?

-- Divya from Lexington, Ky.
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Yes, Stephenson is no longer listing Memphis. For those closely covering Stephenson's recruitment this was not big news, since it was known that Memphis had cooled on Stephenson after getting Xavier Henry.

What caught everyone off guard is that Memphis was replaced by Maryland on Stephenson's school list. Now whether Stephenson is legitimately serious about Maryland is another thing. One train of thought is that coach Gary Williams has been under a lot of scrutiny of late for his lack of recruiting success and that the powers that be who are associated with Under Armour, which has an apparel deal with Maryland, influenced Stephenson to visit Maryland to diffuse some of the heat on Williams.

Whether this theory is accurate or not, it is difficult picturing a stubborn and willful player like Stephenson coexisting with an old-school coach with a penchant for yelling and screaming like Williams.

As for Cousins, a sudden interest in Rice has been floated out there by Cousins' high school coach Otis Hughley, but I see that more as a diversionary tactic or goodwill gesture on behalf of the Rice program. The smart money has its eyes on Memphis. There is also talk of coach John Calipari potentially taking the Alabama job.

Hoosier hope

I've been a big Indiana fan all of my life and I think that Tom Crean is great for the future of Indiana basketball. How good is the class coming in next year? This season has been awful, but is there hope for a better year next season or will it be several more years before the tide starts to turn?

-- Ed from Los Angeles
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Crean has a strong class coming in next year. Most important, it is a deep class with six recruits. Five of those prospects are ranked in the Rivals150, and the class as a whole presently ranks No. 8 nationally.

Expect all six recruits to get minutes, and several of them will log heavy minutes. Bloomington native Jordan Hulls will likely take over the point guard position. Four-star prospects Christian Watford and Maurice Creek will get heavy minutes on the wing, and both specialize at putting the ball in the basket. Watford will also likely play some power forward for Indiana. Four-star Derek Elston will bring a physical presence and some versatility to the forward positions. Three-star center Bawa Muniru has the ability to be a dominating defensive and rebounding presence around the basketball. And if his offensive game develops, he could certainly play above his ranking.

Although these players are freshmen, I expect their addition to translate into more wins next year. Indiana won't tear up the Big Ten or anything like that, but the Hoosiers should be competitive and dangerous throughout the year. A major transformation into being a Big Ten contender once again will take multiple years.

Jones vs. Henson

Is Perry Jones as skilled as John Henson, and who do you think will be the better college player?

-- Tray from Jefferson City
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No, he is not. Henson is freakishly skilled for a big man in a similar way as DeMarcus Cousins. Certainly Henson and Cousins are different in that Henson doesn't carry the bulk that Cousins carries, but they are both comfortable anywhere on the court with the basketball and can handle, pass and score in a variety of ways.

Jones does have a nice skill level for a post player within 15 feet of the basket, but he doesn't have anywhere close to the comfort level with the ball that Henson has. And Jones certainly can't make plays all over the court like Henson can. Jones is going to develop into a dangerous scorer inside the arc, and he has the potential to expand his skill game further in the coming years.

Both should have tremendous college careers, but Henson is on another level than Jones.

Hot prospect

I was wondering about the recruitment of one of 2011's top big men, James McAdoo. What schools are actively recruiting him, and where is he leaning thus far? Also, could you give us a breakdown of his skill set?

-- Terrence from Nashville, Tenn.
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Florida, North Carolina, Clemson, Virginia, Virginia Tech and others are in hot pursuit of McAdoo. Certainly, it is early in the process, but his recruitment likely will come down to a battle between Florida and North Carolina.

McAdoo is a highly skilled big man who projects as a multidimensional power forward. He shoots the ball with touch and loves to use the glass, finishes proficiently with either hand, rebounds outside of his area with sure hands, makes plays in the open court and has impressive anticipatory skills on defense.

In a nutshell, McAdoo is the elite big man in the 2011 class.

Two-sport star?

Marlon Brown is an amazing athlete on the football field and on the hardwood. If he decides to play basketball in college, as well as football, what type of impact could he make on a college basketball team?

-- Matt from Memphis, Tenn.
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The main contribution Brown could make for the Georgia basketball program is as a physical, multi-positional defender. At 6 feet 5 and 205 pounds, Brown could be a lockdown defender on either wing position, and he could also defend the power forward position. And as a lockdown defender at the wing position, Brown would also be in imposing rebounder.

Offensively, Brown put up great numbers as a high school player, but his offensive game translates as solid at the SEC level. Coming onto the hardwood right out of football season after the basketball season has already started, it would be unrealistic to expect a lot of scoring and playmaking out of Brown.

A good comparison of what Brown could be on the basketball court is Marcus Monk, who is playing basketball for Arkansas this season and averaging 16 minutes per game.

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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