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August 20, 2012

Mailbag: On point on the West Coast

Who is the best class of 2014 point guard out West? Is four-star wing Troy Williams any closer to a decision? Does Oklahoma State have a shot with Julius Randle? Get those answers and more inside this week's Eric Bossi mailbag.

On point out West

Who is the best point guard out West in the class of 2014? Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Jordan McLaughlin or somebody else?

- Jackson, Los Angeles

This is an excellent question, and certainly a debate that has been taking place out West. Currently, Jackson-Cartwright (No. 29) sits slightly ahead of McLaughlin (No. 41) in the 2014 rankings.

A 5-foot-9 floor general from Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola, Jackson-Cartwright is a natural leader on the floor. He looks for teammates, harasses opponents defensively and gets a lot more done than a kid with his size and lack of bulk should be able to. When defenses back off of him, he's become a more dangerous scorer, and he also makes effective use of the floater in the lane.

A bit bigger at about 5-foot-11, McLaughlin is more of an athletic driver and scorer than Jackson-Cartwright. He's more likely to bomb away from deep, and like PJC, he plays with an edge and toughness that belies his slight build. Though not quite as polished as a playmaker for others just yet, McLaughlin is no ball hog and is certainly a capable distributor.

In the end, this is an extremely close call, but as of this moment, it wouldn't be a surprise if McLaughlin moved slightly ahead of Jackson-Cartwright when rankings get updated in a few weeks. At a minimum, they'll be even closer together.

Williams undecided

What is the latest with Troy Williams?

- Aaron, Hampton, Va.

The 6-foot-6 four-star wing will play his senior year at Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill, and his recruitment has been an interesting one to follow. Back in the spring, Williams appeared set to pick between North Carolina and Kentucky before backing out of making an early decision.

While Williams still lists the Tar Heels and Wildcats, neither program appears to be quite as active in his recruitment as they once were. Regardless of those programs' status with Williams, the high flyer has no shortage of options and will likely end up at a pretty high-level program.

Anthony Grant and Alabama have stepped up their recruitment big time and had Williams on campus late last week. It might be a little premature to call the Crimson Tide the leader, but they are definitely a major player. Others jockeying for position include Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, Georgetown, South Carolina (where Williams will try to visit before heading to Oak Hill this weekend), Ohio State and Arkansas.

Rivals.com spoke with Williams' uncle and summer team coach, Boo Williams, on Monday night, and Williams indicated that his nephew is still pretty open in the recruiting process. Also, after Williams gets to Oak Hill they will work on setting up visit dates that match up with his school obligations. As for making a decision, nothing has been decided yet as to whether the senior will make a choice in the early or late signing period.

Rocky Mountain trio

It looks like there could be three high major point guards in Colorado in the class of 2014, can you break down Dominique Collier, Joshua Perkins and Jeremiah Paige?

- Josh, Aurora (Colo.)

That trio is looking like it could be a nice one. With Collier and Perkins you have four-star prospects who currently rank Nos. 62 and 69 in the class of 2014, and Paige is a three-star who will receive consideration for the 2014 rankings when they get expanded from a top 100 to a top 150 here in a few weeks.

Let's start with Collier from Denver (Colo.) East. A slender 6-foot-2 ball handler, Collier uses quickness and a great hesitation dribble to lose defenders, and he excels at getting to the rim. As a jump shooter he's been a bit hot and cold, but the biggest thing for him is to add more strength.

Much like Collier, Perkins is very adept at getting to the rim. Whereas Collier is a little more slippery with the dribble, Perkins is a bit more calculated and plays with a higher degree of physicality. A good pull-up jump shooter and a threat from deep, Perkins also has the size to slide over and play the two comfortably.

At this juncture, Paige isn't quite into the same category as Collier and Perkins. Also, it might be more appropriate to list Paige as more of a natural two guard who is perhaps a bit undersized for the wing. The thing that Paige does have in his game is that he is supremely confident on the floor. He's going to look to score at every opportunity and isn't easily rattled.

New York state of mind

What New Yorker impressed you most during the spring and summer?

- Devin, Long Island

Given that they are both five-star prospects who rank No. 12 and No. 13 respectively in the class of 2014, it's no surprise that both big man Chris McCullough and wing Isaiah Whitehead were quite impressive during July. McCullough is a fluid athlete with size and great natural instincts, while Whitehead is one of the best off-the-dribble scorers in the country regardless of class.

Also quite impressive during the summer was 6-foot-9-ish four man Jermaine Lawrence. Lawrence was a productive rebounder, mid-range jump shooter and scorer near the rim all summer long as he validated his five-star status in the class of 2013.

Looking a little bit off the radar, the guy who jumps out is 6-foot-7 combo forward Hassan Martin. Martin showed great signs in the spring with his activity, length and inside/out game. His stock has only continued to rise, and he's a potential Rivals150 prospect who is coming off of a breakout performance at last weekend's Battle of the Boroughs in NYC.

Any chance for OSU?

Julius Randle took a visit to Oklahoma State over the weekend, what kind of shot do the Pokes have?

- Terry, Oklahoma City

If you are Travis Ford and the Cowboys, you are obviously excited that you had Randle on campus. Just last year, nobody really took the Cowboys seriously when it came to their pursuit of Marcus Smart, so perhaps they have snuck in there more than anybody has given them credit for.

For now, though, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina continue to generate the most heat behind the scenes.

It's (Re-)Classified

What's your opinion on kids reclassifying these days? Doesn't it seem that guys are moving between classes more than ever?

- Rob, Boston

The way I see it, kids and their families need to do whatever they think is best. However, I hope that when kids are switching from one class to another that they are getting all of the facts from an impartial source and that they are taking a long look in the mirror and being totally honest with about what can be accomplished by delaying college for a year. The notion that "re-classifying" is a cure-all that automatically improves grades and enhances recruitment is a silly one. Often times, kids are the exact same type of prospect as a fifth-year high schooler that they were as a regular high school student. Not to mention NCAA requirements regarding what exactly can be accomplished academically during a "prep" year are becoming more stringent by the year.




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