With March Madness looming, Rivals.com basketball recruiting analyst Eric Bossi opens up the mailbag.
The Miami Hurricanes are 14-2 in the ACC and ranked in the top 10 as I write this. They also have an extremely complex recruiting situation dealing with the NCAA situation and a very senior-heavy team. With up to five scholarships remaining to be filled for next year, what can we expect from the Hurricanes in the class of 2013 and beyond?
-- Josh, Silver Spring, Md. (via email)
I don't think there is anybody who could have expected what we have seen from Jim Larranaga and his team this season. I think they are one of the true feel-good stories of college basketball. Of course, the question is how do they keep things going?
The answer is that they are going to do it in a way that works best for them. What I mean by that is I don't think we'll see a lot chasing of highly regarded five-stars or big-name players. Don't get me wrong, they will take them where they can get them, but I think the Hurricanes staff will focus on talent evaluation, development of the guys that they have and I also think they will always be on the lookout for quality transfers.
I think we see that some in this year's class. Wing Davon Reed is highly regarded as a four-star, but I think they have possibly found a gem in combo guard DeAndre Burnett. He can fill it up and is going to be under strong consideration for a move into the final Rivals150. Also, they may get a nice boost thanks to the football team's recruiting efforts. Point guard/athlete Cornelius Elder and forward/wide receiver Derrick Griffin are both Rivals150-type hoops talents who can help out.
The Hurricanes have scholarships available, but they won't go crazy with them. I think that Demetrius Henry is probably the most important target remaining on the board and the Canes have an excellent shot with him. There are also potentials in the junior college ranks such as wing Chris Griffin , power forward James Kelly and combo guard Desmond Lee and I'd look for them to be active in the Div. I transfer market. In 2014, four-star Adonys Henriquez is already locked up and players such as Malik Price-Martin, Dion Wiley, Isaac Copeland and Ja'Quan Newton are pretty high on their radar.
How much stock should we put into rankings of the classes of 2015 and 2016?
-- Rob, Atlanta (via email)
This is an excellent question and comes at a perfect time. We haven't ranked either of these classes yet but that will change on Wednesday when we release our initial top 50 for the class of 2015. Class of 2016 prospects won't even get stars assigned to them until after the summer.
The bottom line is, most freshmen and sophomores haven't gotten much exposure yet and the difference between playing against 15 and 16U competition in the summer like most of these guys have instead of 17U is gigantic. The early rankings are a great early measuring stick but should be used as more of a snapshot for the future. There will be players in the first top 50 that might not make the final Rivals150 by the time they are seniors, while some player that doesn't even have a profile yet finishes in the top 10. They are a good measuring stick, but it is important look at them and expect plenty of change over the next few years.
I'm a Connecticut fan and it seems like the Huskies are starting to show up on almost every kid in the country's list. Are they really recruiting that many players? Are Kevin Ollie and his staff being spread too thin?
-- Pete, Hartford (via email)
You aren't kidding. During my travels this winter and on phone calls that I've been making to available 2013, 2014 and 2015 prospects, I've noticed many mentions of UConn. I've also noticed that a large number of them seem to feel that they have offers on the table. To answer your first part, no, I don't think UConn is really recruiting that many players. And by recruiting I mean really getting after it and trying to build relationships. If that's the case, it would seem to be a bit of a shotgun approach and could de-value the brand that Ollie is trying to maintain and build. But, I do think that Ollie has a dynamic personality, has employed a very hard-working staff and that they are working harder than ever on the recruiting trail up in Storrs.
What's your thoughts on where Dwayne Morgan ends up?
-- @SSTRAUBS (via Twitter)
Monday night, the class of 2014's No. 18 player announced that he would make his college decision on April 5. A 6-foot-7 forward with inside/out ability, Morgan has the tools to develop into a big-time college player. That he has picked an exact date should tell us something. It should tell us that he more than likely has made up his mind -- or at the very least come very close to doing so -- even though he and those close to him will publicly say that he is wide open.
The reality is kids don't just set a decision date without a pretty good idea of where they are going (barring a few exceptions over the past couple of years). Morgan is supposed to release a final three next week, but at the moment two programs stand out to me and they are UNLV and Maryland. He has been to UNLV and the staff there is plugged into Baltimore, while Maryland is close to home and has developed a strong relationship.
Pending new information, I would expect his choice to come from one of those two programs.
What are your thoughts on 2014 small forward Jordan Barnett's game? Florida loves the kid and he's already been down for a visit. I think they love him as a bigger wing/great athlete. Could Florida steal another one from St. Louis?
-- Celtics99 (via message board)
Currently ranked No. 101 in the class of 2014, the 6-foot-6 wing at St. Louis (Mo.) CBC has shown improvement as a junior. Barnett has always been a big-time athlete who can explode for offense around the rim. This year he has shown improved touch as a jump-shooter, with a knack for blocking shots from the weak side and more determined finishing in transition.
He will most likely start moving up the 2014 rankings when they get updated. However, if Barnett really wants to maximize his game and climb up the rankings, he needs to improve his dribbling, embrace playing with a physical edge and improve his ball-handling. Billy Donovan and the Gators have certainly had plenty of success in St. Louis plucking David Lee, Alex Tyus and Bradley Beal out of the Gateway City and they are making their move with Barnett. Michigan State, Notre Dame, Missouri and others will provide a test, but if the Gators really lock in on Barnett they will be a major factor in his recruitment.
Hey Bossi, how likely do you think it is that future Kansas center Joel Embiid will move up in the final rankings? From what I've heard and seen he seems to be (squelching) some of the doubts that people had about him during his AAU ball. Your thoughts?
-- Distance56 (via message board)
I answered this on the message board but would like to go into a bit greater detail because I am very intrigued with Embiid, especially where he could be in another 2-3 years. The near seven-footer can run, he is quite agile, has good hands and is working with a pretty solid base of skills for somebody that hasn't played the game that long. I love his spin moves to either his right or left shoulder and that he rebounds the ball at a pretty high rate. His lower body is a bit weak and there are times where he is still pretty tentative from an aggression standpoint.
We already plugged Embiid into the rankings pretty high at No. 37 and his long-term potential versus short-term readiness makes for an interesting rankings decision. Do we lean more towards his ultimate upside? Or do we lean more toward the fact that he's still a bit raw and may need a few years to develop which could limit his impact (especially early on) at Kansas. My gut is that he probably trends up, but we still need to look at the entire class and balance everything out.
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