National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer addresses these questions and more in this week's mailbag.
Addressing a need
Despite a great recruiting class in 2008-09, UCLA is weak up front. Does its incoming class address this need?
-- David from New Jersey
It somewhat addresses this need. Brendan Lane, who we presently have woefully under ranked, has the potential to be an inside/outside scoring threat in the Pac-10. In fact, it might not be out of line to expect him to turn into a Chris Anderson-type player. Lane is a solid 6-foot-9, above-average athlete who is an adept scorer with touch.
Now, will he be strong enough to produce points in the low post right away in his career? I'm not sure. His body has progressed since he first impressed us a couple years ago as a lean, athletic shooter. Perhaps he could get it done for the Bruins immediately. But I guarantee he gets it done before his career is over.
Center Anthony Stover is a legitimate shot blocker, but he needs to put on weight and is woefully raw offensively at this point in his career. Power forward Reeves Nelson will be a physical rebounder, but I don't expect a lot of scoring out of him. Small forwards Mike Moser and Tyler Honeycutt have impressive length for their position, but they are finesse face-up players.
So yes, UCLA's No. 10-ranked recruiting class has some quality front-line players but not necessarily low-post scoring prowess - unless Lane is ready to go to work down low against the big boys.
Trojan talent infusion
With the recent commitment of Renardo Sidney along with Solomon Hill and Noel Johnson, where does this put USC in terms of 2009 class rank? Also, what type of impact do you foresee Sidney having for the Trojans next year?
-- Blake from Los Angeles
The Trojans' 2009 recruiting class just missed out on the top five, landing at No. 6 in the country after the commitment of Sidney. It was a very close call between USC and Memphis, but the Tigers get a slight edge at No. 5. Georgia Tech (No. 4), Villanova (No. 3), Texas (No. 2) and North Carolina (No. 1) comprise the top of the rankings.
Sidney will have a significant impact for USC next year. How much of an impact depends on two things – his level of conditioning and how willing he is to play around the basket.
When Sidney is in shape, as he was at the end of his sophomore season, he is an elite talent. The problem, though, is that Sidney hasn't been in that type of shape since. He has ranged from being in decent shape to being out of shape. The fact that Sidney tends to spend a lot of time roaming around the perimeter instead of dominating in the lane has a lot to do with being out of shape. It also has to do with Sidney being an extremely skilled player.
But for Sidney to have the kind of impact USC needs him to have, he needs to get in the low post and then work the high post instead of trying to play on the wing. He has to stop only running the floor from the top of one key to the other. Sidney just doesn't have the quickness to be effective playing the majority of the time on the wing in the Pac-10.
Now the bright side to this breakdown is that Sidney says he is looking forward to the structure of playing in a college program and wants to be pushed by coach Tim Floyd. If Sidney adheres to Floyd's demands, he could very well be one of the top freshman players in the country next season.
-- RJ from Denver
Let's put together Kansas' dream lineup for next year. Both Collins and Aldrich stick around, giving Kansas arguably the best returning point guard and center in the country. Let's throw Lance Stephenson in there, not only because Kansas has a legitimate shot at landing him, but also because Kansas needs an athletic wing who can create his own shot and defend other strong athletic wings. Robinson would then come in as arguably the best rebounder in the 2009 class along with Derrick Favors. Plug in another wing player, and this is a lineup that could easily win a national championship.
Robinson can tip the scales of a college game just with his rebounding. He has tremendous athleticism, body balance, instinct, strong hands and a high-level motor. Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris are talented and still figuring out the game, but Robinson has the capacity to play so much harder than the Morris twins. His effort and natural rebounding would be a perfect complement to Collins and Aldrich.
-- Herman from Washington, D.C.
As of now, coach Gary Williams has two three-star big men in Jordan Williams and James Padgett. If Maryland can land Stephenson and Vinson, then the Terps will have a great recruiting class. Add just Stephenson to the class and it is a really good class. Add just Vinson to the class and it is a good recruiting class.
The odds aren't likely that Maryland adds both Stephenson and Vinson. Yes, the Terps are recruiting both prospects, but Maryland only loses one senior and would have to do some scholarship juggling just to add one more recruit to the class.
More than likely, Vinson is being recruited as a backup in case Maryland doesn't land Stephenson. I do like Maryland's chances, though, to land Stephenson. Maryland has some positive energy going. Washington, D.C., is a large metropolitan area that is accessible from New York City. And I haven't seen or heard any type of refutation of the Stephenson-Under Armour-Maryland connection.
Will winning ways continue?
Herb Sendek has led Arizona State to back-to-back, 20-win seasons. Is he making any inroads on national recruiting that gives Sun Devils fans hope for continued success? Without current stars James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph what do you project for the next couple of years?
-- Rick from Phoenix
I expect Arizona State to continue winning primarily because Sendek is a tremendous coach. Recruiting wise, I don't expect him to bring in a load of five-star prospects, but Sendek will land quality prospects who will fit into his system.
In the 2009 class look for Trent Lockett, a four-star prospect out of Minnesota, and local transplant and ranked three-star prospect Demetrius Walker to make early contributions. Lockett is a skilled wing player with a high basketball IQ who will do well under Sendek. Walker will provide a dose of athletic explosiveness that will give the Arizona State backcourt an added dimension.
In the 2010 class, Arizona State has a commitment from in-state guard Corey Hawkins. We haven't had a chance to evaluate Hawkins yet, but the word is that he is a talented scorer and solid all-around player.
These are exciting times for Arizona State basketball, and I don't foresee their present success ending anytime soon.