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September 18, 2011

Ask the experts: Surprise visitors

MORE EXPERTS: Sept. 10 | Sept. 2 | Aug. 26 | Aug. 15

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

Did any visits surprise you recently - schools get a visit from someone you didn't think would be interested in them?

Meyer: D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera visiting North Carolina State caught my attention. Yes, he is teammates with Tyler Lewis, who is committed to the Wolfpack, and is taking the trip with Lewis. But North Carolina State has been heavily invested in recruiting Rodney Purvis, whose game is quite similar to Smith-Rivera's. You have to wonder what impact Smith-Rivera's visit has on Purvis.

Bossi: I don't know that it's necessarily a surprising visit, but I think that Tim Floyd and UTEP did pretty well for themselves to get a visit out of Twymond Howard. A native of Mississippi, most are expecting that the nation's No. 69 player will stay in the Southeast. But, Floyd is an aggressive recruiter and has always done pretty well in Mississippi and Louisiana so it's not a surprise to see him trying to go back to a well that has been pretty good to him in the past.

How much do you think an impressive football gameday atmosphere matters to a basketball recruit?

Meyer: It matters more than you would think. We are talking about teenagers who are very impressionable. The energy and excitement of a big time football game make a big imprint. Whether there is a correlation or not, recruits assume that there is the same energy around the basketball program.

Bossi: One would think that a basketball player would care a lot more about the atmosphere for basketball games, but we all know that isn't always the case. Football is only six or seven times a year in a college town so there's such a flurry of activity that it can leave a large impression. I've never thought that it's the make or break, but a wild crowd at a football game followed by a fun night on the town certainly doesn't hurt.

What's been the most curious commitment to you of late - one that might not be the greatest fit?

Meyer: I don't know of any recent commitments that I would consider a bad fit, but the commitment of Danuel House and Chicken Knowles to Houston is a monumental recruiting victory for James Dickey and his staff. House is a likely McDonald's All-American, and Knowles is oozing with upside. These prospects will immediately take the Houston basketball program to a higher level.

Bossi: I don't think that Danuel House and Chicken Knowles won't fit at Houston, but they certainly caught the college basketball and recruiting worlds by surprise when they committed. The duo could have picked just about anywhere, but they chose a program that has been struggling, isn't in a major conference and is in the process of rebuilding so it certainly raised plenty of eyebrows. But, that's where you have to give a ton of credit to James Dickey and his staff for identifying a couple of guys that they could get to buy in and sell them on changing the culture of Houston basketball.

Who is a coach that might surprise fans if they knew how hard he worked on the recruiting trail?

Meyer: For a coach who has had tremendous success over a long period of time, Roy Williams puts a lot of effort into recruiting for North Carolina. He doesn't sit back and rely on his assistant coaches and is out on the road recruiting more than fans would expect.

Bossi: Anthony Grant at Alabama has always struck me as a guy that really grinds it out and seems to be all over the place. I remember when I was first starting in the business and he was an assistant at Florida, it seemed like everywhere I went there was Grant standing in the corner watching. Since he's become a head coach I haven't seen that change and while he's known as a "recruiter" I don't think people realize the grind he puts in. Perfect example, a couple of years ago I'm in San Diego on a random Monday night to watch Angelo Chol on a West Coast swing, and sure enough there's Grant. Just a total, "what the heck is he doing here" moment.

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