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September 26, 2008

Meyer's Mailbag: Breaking down the big commits

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Sept 19: Duke's new approach
Sept 4: Kelly is rising fast
Aug 29: Henry's family influences
Both Ohio State and Tennessee landed a couple impressive 2010 prospects, so a breakdown is in order for fans of both schools.

Connecticut fans figure incoming freshman Kemba Walker is one of the best pure point guards in the country.

And Indiana fans are feeling positive about their point guard recruit Jordan Hulls.

National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer addresses these issues and more in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
Tops in 2010

What do you think of The Ohio State's two recent additions to the 2010 recruiting class and do you feel this class can bring a national championship back to Columbus? Will any other school be able to come close to taking over the No. 1 spot in the class rankings?

-- Eric from Columbus
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Jordan Sibert simply blew me a way when I watched him play at the adidas It Takes 5IVE tournament in Cincinnati this summer. I loved his athletic burst to the basket, his ability to score from outside and his overall athleticism and competitiveness. As talented as he is he showed an ability to fit into a team system and demonstrated a strong understanding of how to play the game.

Lenzell Smith Jr. is a bit of an enigma. He doesn't pass the look test, and he doesn't comfortably fit into a conventional position. But he has an exceptional feel for the game, is an excellent passer and is more athletic than he looks. Simply put, Smith can play, but he will need to work on his body for his talents to fully translate at Ohio State.

It is safe to say that Ohio State has the No. 1 recruiting class for 2010 at the moment with Smith at No. 97, Sibert at No. 18, Deshaun Thomas at No. 8 and Jared Sullinger at No. 3. The team with the best shot of overtaking the Buckeyes for the top spot is Duke. The Blue Devils have commitments from Joshua Hairston at No. 14, Andre Dawkins at No. 34 and Tyler Thornton at No. 54 and are in contention for three of the top four prospects in the Rivals150. No. 1 prospect Josh Smith, No. 2 prospect Brandon Knight and No. 4 prospect Harrison Barnes are all considering Duke. If Coach K were to land two out of these three, then Duke would be back on top of the recruiting world in 2010.

Point guard purity

Is Kemba Walker the best pure point in the 2008 class?

-- Chris from Bristol
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Chris you use a term - pure point guard - that always makes me balk. I don't think you mean this, but most of the time when I hear the term "pure point guard," I figure it refers to a "heady" guard who is too slow to breakdown the defense and incapable of scoring. He is the guy who "gets you into your offense" and plays a no-risk/no-reward style of play. Personally, I don't have much use for those type of point guards.

Knowing Walker, I figure you are referring to a player with a point guard's mentality who is capable of breaking down the defense and creating scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. Having this point guard mentality means a player understands when to attack, when not to attack and generally has a pass-first mentality. And on the defensive side of the ball, can pressure the ball at the point of the attack and is a capable weakside rebounder. The overriding characteristic of my "pure point guard" is that he has a strong understanding of what it takes to win and is willing and typically able to do whatever it takes to win.

These are the type of point guards that I have a strong interest in. I don't know that Walker is the best of this type of point guard, but he is certainly among the best. Walker's game is guided by the desire to win, and he embodies all the qualities described above.

Two for Tennessee

How big are Tennessee's two recent 2010 commitments: Josh Selby and Jordan McRae and can you give an evaluation of each.

-- Kevin from Knoxville
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Landing Selby and McRae is very big for Tennessee for at least a couple reasons. First of all, the Volunteers landed the No. 7 and No. 28-ranked prospects in the class of 2010.

Secondly, both prospects fit perfectly in the Tennessee style of play. Selby is a true combo guard who loves to push the tempo and specializes in making difficult shots. He slides effortlessly between both guard positions and has a big-shot mentality that Coach Pearl loves. I wouldn't say he is the type of pure shooter that Chris Lofton was for the Vols, but similar to Lofton, Selby will take and make shots that just leave you shaking your head.

Similar to Selby, McRae, who is a wing scorer, hasn't seen a shot he didn't like. Long, athletic and built for the Tennessee style of play, McRae should thrive in Knoxville. Both these players will be able to play at a speed and with a shooter's green light that will bring the best out of their games.

Records don't lie

Jerry, I'm tired of hearing Purdue fans tell me Jordan Hulls was a reach for Tom Crean. Can you comment of Hulls' game and help dispel this nonsense? Thanks!

-- Josh from Indianapolis
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Surely Purdue fans wouldn't want to hate on an in-state rival's recruit. But Josh, assuming your accusation is true, I'll be glad to defend Hulls. For starters, Hulls is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 106 prospect overall and the No. 17 point guard prospect. Others actually have him ranked higher. In comparison, Purdue's incoming freshman guards - Ryne Smith and Lewis Jackson - are ranked No. 114 and No.121 overall in the class of 2008.

But it is quite likely that Purdue fans would disagree with these rankings, arguing that their recruits are getting slighted. In that case, let me describe what I like about Hulls' game. In the vein of what was discussed in the Kemba Walker question above, Hulls is a winner. His travel team had great success all summer before falling apart in Las Vegas without Hulls when he played with his high school team. Secondly, Hulls is a dangerous three-point shooter with just enough shake to his game to also penetrate the defense. Thirdly, he has a special feel for the game and knows how to get the ball where it needs to be. Lastly, he is not an imposing defender, but I do think he can get the job done. He has above-average quickness and plays stronger than you'd expect when looking at him. And the last time I scouted him, I was amazed at how well he rebounded defensively.

I'm not sure how good of an individual career Hulls will have, but I have no doubt that a player with his overall skill level, exceptional shooting ability and savvy toughness can help Indiana win in the Big Ten.

Freshman impact

Do you know if Angel Garcia and Matt Simpkins are eligible to play and if so do you think they can help get Memphis back to at least the Sweet 16?

-- Jerry from Tennessee
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As of now, neither Garcia nor Simpkins have been cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Both prospects have submitted all their paperwork, but are waiting to hear a verdict. Hopes are up in Memphis, but there is no telling when the University will get an answer on the eligibility of its two four-star recruits.

Certainly Memphis would love to have Garcia and Simpkins available this season, but the success of the Tigers will lie largely in the hands of elite freshman guard Tyreke Evans, high scoring junior college transfer Roburt Sallie and the returning players from last year's final four team. Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggart will have to play strong inside in the absence of center Joey Dorsey. And the Tigers hope to get some quality minutes off the bench from the burly Pierre Niles.

Garcia is a talented prospect but in need of physical development, and Simpkins is a raw athlete who will need skill development work to fit in as a four man in the dribble drive attack of Memphis.

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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