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Meyers mailbag: Indiana could be back

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Nov 4: Kansas not done
Oct 28: Tyler Adams update
Oct 21: July solution
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Does Indiana's recruiting success have the program on the verge of returning to national prominence?
Are there still some talented targets available for the Oregon State Beavers?
And does Harvard have a recruit who could dominate the Ivy League?
These questions and more are addressed by National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer in this week's mailbag.
Hoosier future
With Indiana's recruiting classes in 2011 and 2012, do the Hoosiers return to national prominence any time soon?
- Jarrod from Vincennes
Indiana is starting to land the type of prospects that give the program a chance to rise to national prominence. It is not a guarantee that success of this magnitude will occur, but coach Tom Crean is beginning to put the pieces together to make it happen.
Landing five-star post man Cody Zeller on Thursday was a significant recruiting victory for Indiana. The fact that Zeller is a top 20 talent who can be an interior scorer is awful big in itself. But not only did Indiana beat out North Carolina, where Zeller's brother plays, and NCAA runner-up Butler for Zeller, Indiana solidified its current grip on talent within the state.
Zeller's Indiana Elite travel team is loaded with talent, and Crean just might have a stranglehold on that talent.
Joining Zeller in the 2011 recruiting class from this travel team is Austin Etherington, who is a top-notch shooter. Etherington is not a dominant athlete or playmaker, but he is the type of shooter who constantly demands defensive attention and can stretch the court.
In the 2012 class all three of Indiana's recruits play for Indiana Elite. The Hoosiers have perhaps the best athlete in the class, Hanner Perea, committed. Steady four-star shooting guard Ron Patterson is also committed. And near 7-footer and Rivals150 prospect, Peter Jurkin, is the third 2012 commitment.
The next primary target for Indiana is 2012 five-star point guard Kevin Ferrell of, yes, you guessed it, the Indiana Elite program. Odds are likely that the ultra-talented Ferrell will jump in line with his travel team teammates at Indiana. Adding Ferrell might just be the necessary addition to propel Indiana back to the top of the Big Ten.
Saunders is worthy
It seems as though Tommy Amaker has put together a BCS conference-type recruiting class at Harvard this year. You at rivals have Wesley Saunders listed as a four-star recruit, and yet other recruiting websites have him ranked consistently lower. What are the reservations about Saunders' game, and why are you at Rivals confident that he will be an impact player at the next level?
- Nick from Philadelphia
The only reservation I can think of is that Saunders is not yet a consistent outside shooter. Other than that, I don't know what you can criticize about his game. He is a physical ballhandler who bullies defenders, finishes well in the lane, gets to the foul line, passes well, is a lock-down wing defender, rebounds his position extremely well, has a high basketball IQ and is highly competitive.
Now that I have written all of this, I'm wondering if we don't have him ranked too low.
Saunders really didn't get much exposure until this July, so maybe that is why he has less value with other services. I don't know.
I remember watching Saunders play in Las Vegas this summer, and I was amazed that he wasn't being more highly recruited. He reminded me of the guards who have recently had success at Marquette such as Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews. There is nothing really sexy about his game, but he will constantly attack his opponent and eventually beat him down.
Expect Saunders to be a dominant player in the Ivy League.
Talking Orange
Can you evaluate Syracuse's recruiting class, and do you see any of its three recruits moving up in the next ranking?
- Marc from Reading
Center Rakeem Christmas and combo guard Michael Carter-Williams are ranked Nos. 12 and 16 respectively, so there is not a lot of room for them to move up in the rankings.
Christmas is one of the better shot-blockers in the class, runs the floor well and is a solid rebounder. Over the past couple years he has shown flashes of offensive prominence, but he hasn't developed as a consistent offensive threat. If he were to develop into more of a consistent offensive threat, he could very well move into the top 10 in the final Rivals150.
Carter-Williams is a smooth ballhandler and crafty, multidimensional scorer with a high basketball IQ. The key for Carter-Williams being an impact player at the next level is developing his physical strength. Right now he is very thin and it will be tough for him to put up numbers in the Big East as a freshman unless he builds up his body.
Missouri not there yet
When are recruits nationally going to recognize Missouri as a legitimate power? We seem to only have under-the-radar prospects interested in us and players from the Midwest and Texas.
- Grant from Columbia
Simply put, Missouri is going to have to do more on a national level for this to occur. Missouri has been good and very competitive under Mike Anderson but not to the level of being considered a national power.
Anyway, Anderson has typically had his greatest success with under-the-radar prospects, who play with chips on their shoulders. His 40 minutes of hell style attracts hungry prospects with something to prove.
Missouri just might be on the verge of landing one of these prospects in Otto Porter. The 6-foot-8 forward from Sikeston (Mo.) Scott County Central High School has little national recognition because he did not play on the travel circuit. He is scheduled to visit Missouri this weekend, and the Tigers would love to get a signature from him before the end of the early signing period.
Beaver fever
Does Oregon State have any quality players in line for the 2011 class beside Daniel Gomis? Seems like the Beavers were in the final 3-5 for a number of good players, but Robinson couldn't close the deal.
- Marc from Corvallis
Coach Craig Robinson does have a lot of ranked prospects seriously considering Oregon State, but he has suffered some disappointing loses with prospects choosing other finalists. Although it can be painful, getting on the shortlist of top prospects is one of the first steps in building a program. The next step is closing the deal in tough recruiting battles.
Oregon State is still in the hunt with two talented prospects in the Rivals150. Four-star forward Jarion Henry and combo guard Elijah Carter are both strongly considering Oregon State, but neither is expected to sign until the spring.
Jerry Meyer is a national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. Click here to send him a question or comment for his mailbag.