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September 2, 2011

Ask the experts: Strongest No. 1?

MORE EXPERTS: Aug. 26 | Aug. 15 | July 19 | July 6

Rivals.com basketball recruiting analysts Jerry Meyer and Eric Bossi weigh in on four current topics.

Which No.1 prospect has the strongest hold on the top spot in his class?

Meyer: The 2014 No. 1 prospect Andrew Wiggins would be the initial quick answer, but with Andre Drummond moving to the 2011 class, Shabazz Muhammad now has a pretty strong hold on the No. 1 spot. The wild card in that class is New Zealander and Pittsburgh commitment Steven Adams. It is a close call between Wiggins and Muhammad. There is a significant gap between Wiggins and the field in the 2014 class, but these guys are only sophomores and a lot could change in the next few years. With Muhammad there will be only one more re-ranking of his class, and it is difficult to see him losing his top spot.

Bossi: In 2012, I think Shabazz Muhammad has a pretty tight grip on the top spot and that Andre Drummond's decision to go ahead and enroll at UConn makes him pretty tough to beat. Andrew Wiggins in the class of 2014 would seem to have a solid hold, but if Noah Vonleh can continue to improve like he did between the Elite 100 in June and the Best of Summer in late July, then maybe it's not as wide a gap as once suspected. The race in the 2013 class is very tight with Jabari Parker breathing down Andrew Harrison's neck.

Is it better to host a prospect on his first or his last official visit?

Meyer: If a school is a significant leader for a prospect, I think it is advantageous to have the first visit. The hope for that school is to impress the prospect enough to get a commitment either on the visit or right after the visit, and he doesn't take any other visits. If it is a more wide open recruiting situation and unlikely that a prospect will commit before taking all his visits, then having the last visit is probably best. Of course major events such as midnight madness or big football games can trump the importance of the order of the visits.

Bossi: I don't know that there is really an answer to that question because it is such a case-by-case scenario. Also, much depends on what a staff knows to be true about a particular recruit's timeline. However, unless I feel that I've got a massive recruiting event that a kid will wait for or that I'm leading a program that is on another level from the others involved with a kid, I'd prefer to have a prospect on campus earlier. I'd rather try to set the bar high than take a chance on a kid falling in love with another program before I can get him on campus.

What has been the key to Sean Miller's recruiting success at Arizona?

Meyer: I don't know if there is a secret to Arizona's recruiting success. There are several factors behind Coach Miller and his staff's success. Arizona is a great school in a great city. The basketball has a rich tradition and is a well known brand. Coach Miller is an active recruiter who has a plan for his program. And he has hired an impressive staff of assistants.

Bossi: I know that there were a few down years as Arizona made a transition from Lute Olson to Sean Miller that was awkward at times. But, for the most part, Arizona has been a top program nationally and perhaps the premier West Coast program during any current prospect's lifetime. Tucson may be a little isolated but they've got great support, good facilities and Miller employs a fun brand of basketball. More specifically, it does seem, for the most part, that Miller has done a pretty good job of getting involved with recruits personally early on in their recruitments. At the end of the day, though, there's a lot to sell about the Arizona program and Miller is capitalizing on that.

Which under-the-radar program is surprising you with their recruiting success?

Meyer: Coach Ed Cooley still has a lot of work to do, but there hasn't been a more significant commitment in the 2012 class than Kris Dunn's commitment to Providence. Dunn choosing Providence over Connecticut has increased the buzz around the Providence program and could likely lead to more high-profile commitments. Providence has a great shot at landing another five-star prospect in Ricardo Ledo, and in general great players want to play with other great players, especially point guards.

Bossi: How about the work that Porter Moser is doing at Loyola? The one time Illinois State head coach who was most recently an assistant at Saint Louis University is really doing an outstanding job. Big man Nick Osborne likely could have ended up at a high major program if he had been willing to wait around until the spring and recent combo guard commit Keith Carter should be a very productive Horizon League player. In 2013, three-star shooting guard Quinten Payne is a guy that could very well figure into the national rankings as he continues to develop.

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