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September 4, 2009

Meyer's Mailbag: Competition for top class?

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Aug 27: Leslie raises his game
Aug 14: Can UK do it again?
July 31: Who's the top SF prospect?
Ohio State once looked like a lock to hold the No. 1 spot in the 2010 team recruiting rankings. But is it possible that a beast from the east could overtake the Buckeyes?

What gives with Kentucky having the No. 1 recruiting class in 2009 but not having even a single commitment in the 2010 class?

And what NBA player is a good comparison for Brandon Knight?

National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer answers these questions and more in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
A shot at No. 1?

What do you think are the chances that Syracuse gets highly ranked prospect Tobias Harris? And if the Orange signed him what would be their chances of overtaking Ohio State for the top spot in the recruiting rankings.

-- Matthew from Lynchburg, Va.
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For the longest time I've just felt that Ohio State had a stranglehold on the No. 1 spot in the team rankings. But with the recent commitment of five-star big man Fabricio de Melo and the stature of the recruits Syracuse is still pursuing, I'm not so sure anymore that Ohio State is destined to maintain that No. 1 spot.

If Syracuse were to land Harris, who is the No. 5-ranked prospect in the Rivals150, then the Orange would be just slightly behind Ohio State. If Syracuse then lands another quality prospect, the Orange likely take over that No. 1 spot. Note that Syracuse is also in the thick of the hunt for Brandon Knight, the No. 1 prospect in the Rivals150.

Whether Syracuse can land Harris is an impossible question to answer at this point. That's because there still are a double-digit number of schools heavily involved with him. And recently there has been talk that Louisville might be the team to beat for Harris.

Waiting patiently

With Kentucky coach John Calipari going after seemingly only top-50 talent, do you see UK being primarily a spring destination for commitments?

-- Mark from Kentucky
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Your question brings up a significant point. Patience will be important for Kentucky fans following recruiting.

Kentucky is targeting the top prospects at their positions, and more and more of those upper-echelon prospects are going to wait to sign until the spring. It only makes sense for a recruit who has leverage to wait until the end of the season before signing. At that point a recruit knows how the season went for the teams recruiting him and has a better grip on roster turnover and coaching changes.

Plus, with a school like Kentucky that has elite talent, recruits who are considering the school want to have more specific knowledge about which players are entering the NBA draft. Any program that has rapid turnover in the roster like Calipari's programs have had lately is more likely to have to wait on recruits to make decisions in the spring.

Kentucky recruit Jelan Kendrick recently informed Rivals.com that he will wait until the spring to make a decision. Brandon Knight, Josh Selby and other top recruiting targets are likely to play the waiting game as well.

Comparing Knight

Who would you compare Brandon Knight's game to?

-- Travis from Indianapolis
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Chauncey Billups and O.J. Mayo are two players that come to mind for a Knight comparison.

All three players are big, strong point guards with strong leadership skills. They have speed with the basketball but use their strength as much as anything to get where they want to go on the court. They also shoot the ball well and have the ability to play the role of a primary scorer as well as distribute the ball.

Defensively they are solid, although Knight has the potential to be an elite defender. And all three thrive under pressure situations.

Solid commitment?

How good can Perry Jones be? Do you think his commitment to Baylor is still strong?

-- Travis from Indianapolis
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Jones is a tough prospect to get a comfortable read on. He is so athletic, has great size and is skilled. At times you watch him and think you are seeing the second coming of Amare Stoudemire but with a better handle.

Then on the other hand, Jones disappears from the action, plays passively and doesn't produce.

So you wonder - Is this a guy who will always be known as having potential but never really pans out or is this a player who will be an NBA All-Star?

All the great ones have a killer instinct. They love the heat and pressure of the spotlight and want to take over games. If Jones develops this instinct, then he will be an NBA All-Star. If it just isn't in his personality to be dominant when it really counts, then he will always leave you wanting more from him.

As to how solid his commitment is to Baylor, there has always been speculation dating back to July a year ago that the commitment isn't that solid. At the same time, however, Jones is still committed to Baylor and the talk of a decommitment has remained just speculation. Recently, there have been whispers about Jones possibly playing in Europe. I don't know what to make of those whispers because with any prospect with the talent of Jones, there is going to be talk of playing overseas.

If I had to bet on it, I'd bet on Jones wearing a Baylor uniform next year.

Irving vs. Selby

Both Kyrie Irving and Josh Selby have spent time this spring and summer vying for the title "best guard not named Brandon Knight." Each has had his moments, but each has been up and down at points. Which one do you think will be the better college and/or pro player?

-- Jimmie from Orlando, Fla.
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Both Irving and Selby are elite combo guards who can control a basketball game with the ball in their hands. They are gifted scorers with a vast array of ways to score and dominant personas. They are also solid to very good at all other aspects of the game.

The primary difference between the two, however, is that Selby is a superior athlete. He has an extra gear of explosiveness that Irving doesn't possess. This athleticism allows Selby to make plays that Irving isn't able to make.

Nonetheless, Irving and Selby will be great college players. The difference between the two might not really show up until the NBA level.

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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