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March 3, 2012

Mailbag on the Mesa

Editor's note: Every Friday ASR Publisher Edward Lewis will answer some questions from fans about the Aztecs in this weekly mailbag. Send questions to edwardflewis@yahoo.com, @EdwardLewisASR on Twitter, post questions on the message board or put questions on ASR's Facebook page.

Chris: Seems pretty quiet on the football front. Can you give us some insight into how a player or two is doing at each position? Any one player causing a lot of talk around camp?

This one will be tricky to answer. The media has been asked specifically this year to tone down the observations we see at practice, which is probably why you would say things have been quiet on the football front this season.

So, without giving too much away, I would say the guys you'd expect to look good have looked really good: Brice Butler, Ryan Katz, Jake Fely, Colin Lockett, Leon McFadden and Adam Dingwell all have stood out in particular for me throughout these past two weeks. As for guys that have surprised me, I would say Robert Craighead has played really well transitioning to defensive lineman from tight end, Brandon Wright has looked great running with the football and Bryce Quigley looks like a natural at the left tackle spot.

Really, though, on a day-to-day basis, unless someone gets injured or just has a monster day, there isn't a whole lot going on other than a good football team trying to get better.


Vincent: I know we still have two years to figure it out and he's got some work to do, but does Jamaal Franklin get drafted?

When I first took over this job, it was hard for me to distinguish a Division I player from just a really good high school basketball or football player. But throughout these past eight months, after watching countless players in person and on YouTube highlights, I've become pretty good at picking out Division I players from a sea of athletes.

But right now, my NBA talent evaluation isn't quite at that same level. Because after all, I don't get the opportunity to see NBA players every day at games and practices and on YouTube highlights like I do with Division I players.

So with all of that being said, my measuring stick consists of just one NBA player total: Kawhi Leonard. If a player compares very favorably to him in my book, he has some NBA talent. Right now, and by Franklin's own admission, SDSU's star forward isn't quite on Leonard's level. But he's getting very close. He's nearly averaging a double-double a game now, just like Leonard did. He's spending hours and hours getting up shots before, after and during practice, just like Leonard did. He's going after rebounds and balls with such unbelievable tenacity, just like Leonard did. So to me, if he keeps improving and officially gets on Leonard's level, which seems like he will at some point in his career at State, I think the question certainly shifts from, "Is Franklin an NBA talent?" to "When will he decide to leave?"


Ryan: Is San Diego State still actively recruiting Anthony January even though we have no more schollies for 2012?

The answer is yes, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, as chief analyst and scout for Rivals.com Jerry Meyer told me a few weeks ago when I asked him this same question, "I don't think you can stop recruiting. This isn't a static situation. Rosters are always in flux, players are getting hurt, players are transferring, players get in trouble, players decide they don't want to play anymore, so I think you always have to keep recruiting."

All of those things are the main reasons you still have to go after guys like January and Norvel Pelle. Because if a player does end up transferring or quitting, you have an elite prospect to fill that void.

Now January's recruiting process is a little different than most recruits. There are reports flying around that he might attend a prep school next season and join the 2013 class. In which case SDSU would have to continue recruiting him no matter what happens with their 2012 roster, as the Aztecs are set to have four schollies available for the '13 class regardless.



Matt: Does a recruit look at our stacked lineup and see opportunity to play with better talent, or as a deterrent for playing time?

The answer depends on the recruit. For example, 2012 three-star forward Ben Carter was heavily leaning toward SDSU over the summer, set up a visit and really wanted to check the Aztecs out. But when SDSU earned a commitment from Skylar Spencer in September, Carter basically dropped the Aztecs from his list because of future competition.

On the flipside of that equation, there are recruits like 2013 forward Roschon Prince. SDSU landed maybe the best wing on the West Coast in Winston Shepard, and Prince's reaction to that was basically, "Great, I'd love to play with that kind of talent in the future."

So it all depends on the player. Personally, if the recruit is scared of competition and is deterred by players currently on the roster, then SDSU probably shouldn't want him anyway.


Chris: Which 2013 basketball recruits might we see sign in the fall? Have any 2013 basketball recruits said they are planning to wait until spring 2014 to sign?

It is so, so, so early in the game to be guessing at this kind of stuff. But, since I get this question a lot and I haven't answered it yet, I'll throw a bone here. Gun to my head, I'd say SDSU's class next year consists of Brandon Randolph, Dakarai Allen, Prince and some lights-out shooter the Aztecs have yet to discover.

As for recruits and when they plan on signing, I have yet to talk to an Aztec prospect who has told me he would like to wait until next spring to sign. Of course, that all could change after AAU ball this summer.


Daniel: It sounds like we are going to have a full roster on the basketball side, with only James Johnson doing a couple months of red-shirting next season. That's 12 1/2 legit players. With playing time a potential concern do you see anyone (like Matt Shrigley) being asked to redshirt?

I really wanted to answer this question just to dispel this whole Shrigley-redshirting thing. I don't know what it is about people and that rumor. Maybe it's because he's a tall, skinny, plain-looking white guy? I have no idea. I've seen Shrigley play about a dozen times in person and I've seen all kinds of Top 75 recruits play two dozen times in person as well, and Shrigley does nothing differently than any of those brand-name games. He has deceptive bounce, a killer turnaround, fadeaway jumper, and for a big wing who scores most of his points around the key, he also has a smooth 3-ball. He's going to be a legitimate player for SDSU, and I think he's going to have a Chase Tapley-like true freshman season if he gets the opportunity.

As for redshirting in general, out of all the guys, I think Skylar Spencer and Deshawn Stephens would benefit from an extra year the most. As big men who are either just growing into their bodies or are just learning the game, I think an extra year at State would be supremely helpful. I know former SDSU big man Aerick Sanders has said looking back on it now, redshirting would have been the best thing for his career, considering how much he and his body matured five years after high school.

But, if nobody redshirts, I'm pretty sure Steve Fisher will be able to handle this group, just like he's done with every other group of talented kids he's ever coached.


Mikey: Where is Isaac Hamilton on the list of priorities in recruiting next year?

If Prince is priority No. 1, then Hamilton is priority No. 1A. If SDSU fans thought landing Shepard was big, landing Hamilton would be like walking on the moon twice in the same calendar year. He's a ridiculously good guard who can even play the point at the next level. The Aztecs would love to have him.


Jeff: What is your best guess for the starting five for men's basketball next year?

Outside of "What's up with Pelle and January?" this is by far the most-asked question I've received lately. I'm not even sure I can come up with a guess for this. I'll say this, the opening day lineup will likely be Xavier Thames, Chase Tapley, James Rahon, Jamaal Franklin and J.J. O'Brien. For every game after that, your guess is as good as mine at this point.


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