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July 17, 2010

Meyer's Mailbag: Is Rivers Duke bound?

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
June 5: ACC's best class could get better
May 29: Duke targets 2011 stars
May 22: Better Kentucky class?

Got a question? Click here to send it to Meyer's Mailbag

Is Austin Rivers, who is the top guard in the 2011 class, destined to play for Duke?

How do five-star point guards Josiah Turner and Quinn Cook compare to each other?

And what type of offensive system does 2012 sharp shooter Evan Nolte need to succeed in college?

These questions and more are addressed in this installment of Meyer's Mailbag.


Gearing up for a commitment?

Does Austin Rivers wearing a Duke national champion shirt and official Duke shorts after the FIBA final signal a lock that he will be going to Duke and if so, how long until he announces his decision?

- Kate from Raleigh

Not sure how much to read into wardrobe choices, but I'd be shocked if Rivers wears any other college uniform than a Duke uniform.

I know other schools are being thrown out by Rivers as possibilities, but my take is that his decommitment from Florida occurred because he wanted to play for Coach K at Duke. It is probably better for all involved that it looks more like Rivers' recruitment is a wide open affair. I just don't buy that scenario.

As for his play, Rivers is progressing nicely as a prospect. He is now attacking the basket going both directions where before he was pretty much a right-hand dominant penetrator. He is also developing into a strong athlete who can make plays in traffic and successfully operate against a large, physical defender. At times, Rivers still gets locked into seeking his own shot, but I've sensed a more openness to creating opportunities for his teammates in his game.

Rivers still has room to improve defensively, but the tools are there for him to be a good defender. He can also get overly emotional when things go the wrong direction for his team. But he appears to be improving in these two areas and developing into a leader on the court.

I sense a combination of Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans in Rivers' game, and he is going to get serious consideration from Rivals.com for the No. 1 spot in the 2011 rankings.


Turner vs. Cook

Can you compare Josiah Turner and Quinn Cook? Are they both eventually pro prospects?

- Sharon from Cleveland Heights

Both Turner and Cook are high level point guards but with different styles. Turner is a better athlete than Cook and relies more on his explosiveness and ability to get to the rim. He is a rim-attacking point guard who doesn't need a ball screen to break his man down. Turner can also shoot the ball from the perimeter, but he prefers to attack.

Cook, on the other hand, doesn't have blow-by speed or explosiveness, but he is a tremendous ball handler who is very crafty at utilizing screens. Turner is a good shooter, but Cook is a better outside shooter and is looking more for the space to shoot his pull-up jumper instead of forcing the ball to the rim.

Both are quality passers. Cook probably does a little better job leading his team verbally. Turner is a better defender and is in fact one of the better defenders of the point guards in the 2011 class.

Turner does project well as an NBA point guard with his strength and explosiveness. Cook certainly has a chance at the NBA, but with his 6-foot-1 height and average athleticism, it might be tough.

As for comparisons, Turner reminds me of Javaris Crittenton and Cook reminds me of Scottie Reynolds.


Moving up?

Everything I've read about Tyrone Johnson this summer has been very positive, yet he's not considered one of the top 10 point guards in his class. Do you expect him to move up in the rankings, or is he fairly ranked at this point?

- Matt from New York

Johnson, a Villanova commitment, has had a tremendous summer running the point for Team Final. At 6 feet 3, 185 pounds he is an intriguing prospect with a crafty and physical style of play.

Presently he is ranked No. 11 out of the point guards in the 2011 class. There is a possibility he could move up a couple spots in the rankings, but there are impressive prospects in Jahii Carson and Tracy Abrams right ahead of him.

The fact is that Johnson is a bubble top-10 point guard in the country and is going to be an integral part of Villanova's guard-oriented attack. He has a great feel for the game, changes speeds with the best of them and really knows how to navigate the high ball screen.


Reminiscent of Miller?

Does Marcus Paige remind you of Andre Miller, the former Utah and NBA veteran, in terms of skill, athleticism, and demeanor?

- Ralph from Springfield

That is an interesting comparison. Paige does play with a steady demeanor that we have seen from Miller throughout his college career at Utah and then NBA career. Paige is also similarly skilled and probably a better long-distance shooter than Miller.

Paige doesn't, however, have the physicality nor explosiveness of Miller. Miller was one of the more physical point guards that I have seen in the college game. Certainly Paige will get stronger and more explosive, but I doubt he will ever reach an Andre Miller level.

Regardless, he is definitely one of the top point guards in the 2012 class, and has a reasonable shot at making it to the NBA one day.


Breaking down Nolte

What offensive system or style of play would accentuate the strengths of Evan Nolte? Which current or former player does he remind you of?

- Mike from Dobbs Ferry

Nolte is an exceptional long-range shooter. He has deep range and can make both contested long-range jumpers and long-range jumpers on the move. He is not, however, a player who is going to consistently create his own shot off the dribble and he is not much of an offensive rebounder. So if he is going to get shots, he does need to get them off of the system. He only needs a small window, though, to get his shot off, so it is not like he has to be spotted up for a wide open three.

Playing in a transition offense that looks for three-pointers on the initial attack would benefit him. Likely on his way to developing into a face-up four man, Nolte would be extremely dangerous trailing the break for the top-of-the-key three. He also could get ahead of the ball and knock down threes on the wing in transition.

Once in the half court offense, he is either going to need teammates who can break down the defense with penetration to open him up, or he is going to need screens away from the ball to create space for his jumper. I love the way Nolte uses screens and shoots on move, so a screen-oriented offense seems ideal for him.

As for a comparison, Nolte reminds me of Steve Novak, who played at Marquette and then spent some time in the NBA. Like Novak, I expect Nolte to develop into an elite deep-range shooter with length and the ability to make three-pointers coming off screens.

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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