February 20, 2009

Meyer's Mailbag: Breaking down Barnes

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Feb 13: Duke closing in on big commit?
Feb 6: Stephenson, Cousins still looking
Jan 30: Five-star possibilities
He might be the most talked about recruit in the 2010 class, but what will Harrison Barnes bring to his future college program?

What does the future hold for Arizona recruiting?

And without a recruit in the 2009 class, Ohio State fans are eager to hear about their loaded 2010 recruiting class.

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

Jerry's Mailbag
Barnes brings it

What can Harrison Barnes bring to a program? How does he differ from Tristan Thompson? What college or NBA player does Barnes remind you of?

-- Dre from the Bronx, N.Y.
Wherever Barnes ends up, he will bring everything you would want from a small forward. He is physical and athletic, scores the ball at all three levels, has good overall ball skills, and he is a strong rebounder and multi-position defender. On top of such a broad and balanced skill set, he has a mind and feel for the game, is coachable and is a good student. Sounds like a winning combination to me.

As for a comparison to Thompson, Barnes is more physical, shoots the ball better and with more range and is a better ball-handler. Thompson has more length, is a quicker jumper and defends a big man in the low post better.

The mental makeup of these two players is different, but the player in the NBA who Barnes' game reminds me of is Ron Artest. Both are do-it-all small forwards. Now, I like Barnes' composure and love what he is off the court, but I also wouldn't mind seeing him develop a little more of a nastier edge to his game like Artest.

Playing from behind

What can Arizona realistically do to salvage anything out of recruiting for next season?

-- Mark from Tucson, Ariz.
There is very little Arizona can do to salvage recruiting for next season. The best-case scenario for recruiting the 2009 class is that a coach is hired who has quality recruits committed to play for him at another school. Then when he leaves for Arizona, those recruits can get out of their letter of intent with the original school and follow the coach to Arizona.

The main recruiting focus of the new Arizona coach will be the 2010 class. For the long-term health of the program it will be vital that the new coaching staff makes inroads during the spring with the junior class.

Perhaps the Indiana and Tom Crean situation provides a blueprint for what Arizona will go through in the short term. Crean brought freshman Nick Williams, who was signed with Marquette, with him to Indiana. Williams is playing 27 minutes per game this season. Crean then proceeded to secure a top-10 recruiting class for next year with six prospects five ranked in the Rivals150.

Indiana has certainly suffered a tough season this year, but chances are good the Hoosiers will be competitive next year. And then get better year after year from there.

Common problem

Why is it a problem for UNLV coach Lon Kruger to get some low-post difference-makers in the desert?

-- Paulie from Philadelphia
I don't think it has anything to do with Coach Kruger or the desert. You could easily have inserted Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Maryland's Gary Williams, Texas' Rick Barnes or a number of other coaches. The problem is that there just aren't that many difference-making low-post players out there. For each class you could probably list on one hand, maybe two, the number of difference-making low-post players. And for a lot of those post players, it takes a couple years before they can really make a difference.

In this year's freshman class, I'd consider Georgetown's Greg Monroe and Louisville's Samardo Samuels as difference-making big men, but they have been far from dominant. Ohio State's B.J. Mullens, Alabama's JaMychal Green and Cincinnati's Yancy Gates have had their moments, but they are a year or two away from being difference-makers.

For most schools, the best bet for having a difference-maker in the low post is to find an under-the-radar big man they feel they can develop in a couple of years.

Top class in 2010

What do you think about Ohio State's 2010 recruiting?

-- Austin from Overland Park, Kan.
I love Ohio State's 2010 recruiting class. Already with five prospects in the bag, coach Thad Matta has the No. 1 recruiting class in 2010. The only position the class lacks is a point guard, but there is still a lot of versatility in the class.

Jared Sullinger, the highest-ranked member of the class at No. 3 in the nation, is a bruising low-post scorer who can also handle the ball and do damage as a high-post player. He is a better version of Samardo Samuels, who is having a productive freshman season for Louisville.

DeShaun Thomas, another top-10 prospect at No. 8, is a lefty with a great feel for getting the ball in the basket. Get him the ball around the free-throw line and positive things are going to happen. Like Sullinger, he can stretch the defense to beyond the arc, but his best work is done in the lane. Thomas also has a great feel for rebounding the ball. Best of all for Ohio State fans is that both have the physical strength to dominate a college game immediately, unlike present Buckeyes big man B.J. Mullens.

Shooting guard Jordan Sibert is also a five-star and ranked No. 18 overall, and he is an exciting athlete who is wired to score the basketball. Four-star Lenzelle Smith Jr. is a unique wing player who really doesn't fit into a position. He passes the ball like a point guard and rebounds the ball like an inside player. Three-star prospect Cameron Wright rounds out the class.

Tracking T.J.

What have you heard about T.J. Taylor out of Denison [2010 class]? It seems OU wants him pretty bad.

-- Brandon from Denison, Texas
I'm hearing a lot of positive things about Taylor and can't wait to scout him this spring. Word has it that he is an athletic combo guard with size who can both see the floor and score the ball.

Oklahoma is heavily involved with Taylor, and he has been to Norman, Okla., several times on unofficial visits. The Sooners aren't the only school in pursuit of Taylor, however. Arizona State and Texas A&M just recently offered him, and he already holds offers from Iowa State and Marquette.

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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