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April 21, 2011
Ask the experts: Time to step up
Rivals.com basketball recruiting analysts Jerry Meyer and Eric Bossi weigh in on four current topics.
What 2012 prospect needs to start stepping up to another level in these spring tournaments?
Bossi: Just a few days ago, my answer most likely would have been Alex Murphy, who seems to be in a bit of a slump. However, he's now class of 2011 and headed to Duke this summer so he's out of the mix. Instead I'll go with the nation's top player, Andre Drummond. There's no denying that he's in impressive physical prospect with all sorts of skill. However, he's missing the passion and activity level that great big men of the past had - guys with whom he is getting compared, such as Amare Stoudamire and Dwight Howard. Those guys wanted to tear down the rim at every opportunity.
Meyer: If speaking in terms of a prospect needing to step up to maintain his ranking, I'd say all the post players in the 2012 class are in this position. The wealth of talented big men in the 2012 class is borderline extraordinary. Presently there are 12 five-star big men and 29 four-star big men in the class. The highly ranked prospects better be on their toes because there are lower-ranked bigs such as Mitch McGary, Willie Cauley, Shaquille Cleare, Anthony Bennett, Alex Poythress and Robert Carter pushing their way up the rankings.
Is UCF's recent grab just a blip, or could this become a program that makes noise consistently in recruiting?
Bossi: It's too early to tell, but Donnie Jones certainly looks to have it rolling in Orlando. Curious to see if Michael Chandler works out academically and it can be dangerous to guarantee certain things to recruits such as Kevin Ware, who UCF has apparently promised can play the point. But, for a mid-major program, UCF is clearly getting things done on the recruiting front.
Meyer: Time will tell, but there is reason to believe that this strong recruiting trend for UCF will continue. There is a wealth of talent in the Deep South. Donnie Jones is a respected head coach who is a top-notch recruiter. And he has a strong staff. UCF's 2011 class represents a pattern for the future solid three-star prospects from the region augmented by one or two four-star prospects who want to play a major role as freshmen.
What are you most looking forward to seeing in the upcoming month?
Bossi: Don't know that there is really any one player in particular that I feel like I have to see. However, I feel like we haven't gotten much of a chance to scout the West Coast yet. Unfortunately, there just don't seem to be very many West Coast-heavy events until the Pangos AA camp in early June. Hitting the West Coast guys is going to be a major July priority. Moving on, I'd really like to get another look at 2013 five-star wing Jabari Parker from Chicago (Ill.) Simeon.
Meyer: The Tournament of Champions held over Memorial Day weekend attracts many of the top non-Nike prospects in the country. That event is always a rewarding scouting experience. Then the next weekend, it is the Pangos Camp in Long Beach, Calif. That event provides great exposure for the best prospects in the West and beyond.
Who has been the most impressive underclassmen you've seen live so far this spring?
Bossi: I don't know if he's the single most impressive underclassman I've seen, but Bonifay (Fla.) Holmes County sophomore Chris Walker has made a huge impression on me. He's 6-foot-9, runs for days, has good hands, can score facing the basket a bit and is a high-level athlete. I need to see him more, but after watching him in Little Rock last weekend, he appears to be a guy who could challenge for at least the national top five in what is shaping up to be a pretty strong class of 2013. From the class of 2014, it seems like we've already seen a bunch of high-level wings in Shaqquan Aaron, Stanley Johnson, Justin Jackson and Wayne Selden. However, Andrew Wiggins, to me at least, seems to be on another level. The near 6-foot-7 Canadian is a monster athlete, has a nose for the rim and plays hard. He reminds me quite a bit of 2011's Mike Gilchrist.
Meyer: Of the ones I have seen so far this spring, three stand out. Julius Randle is a beast with touch. He looks like he was born to be a double-double machine. Nerlens Noel is a top-level shot blocker with great mobility. He has also greatly improved his offensive game. And Aaron Gordon is a slick ballhandler with size and top-level athleticism. His adept ballhandling really caught me by surprise.