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May 22, 2009

Meyer's Mailbag: UK roster far from set

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
May 15: Will Ross remain No. 1 in 2011?
May 8: Stephenson to Tucson?
May 2: UL looks to replace lost big man
John Calipari brought in a major haul to Kentucky, but how is he going to make room for it on the overflow roster?

What's the deal with Florida's recruiting after winning a national championship?

And what is Ohio State going to do about the point guard position?

National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer answers these questions and more in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
Over the limit

I understand that John Calipari and Kentucky have signed one of the best recruiting classes ever. My question is, if Jodie Meeks comes back, how can the Wildcats have all those players on scholarship when only 13 scholarships are available per team?

-- John from Knoxville, Tenn.
John, your question is the next question to be asked concerning Kentucky recruiting and its 2009 class. If Meeks does come back (and there is some optimism in the Kentucky program that Meeks will return for the 2009-10 season), Kentucky would have 17 players on scholarship, four over the limit of 13.

Something has to give, and academics are the first thing that will shake up the Kentucky roster. At least three current Wildcats are in questionable academic standing, and at least three Kentucky recruits have yet to make it through the NCAA Clearinghouse. Sources closely involved with DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe say that both prospects have the class work and standardized test score to make it through the Clearinghouse. John Wall, however, is still waiting for his test score, and there are also questions concerning his core curriculum.

So, although Calipari has signed one of the best recruiting classes in college basketball history, the class is not in the bank yet.

If the academic component doesn't drop the roster down to 13 scholarship players, then I'm certain that the players at the bottom of the roster who need to leave will easily be convinced that it is in their interest to transfer to a program where they can get more playing time. A number of mid-major programs are ready to pick up potential casualties in the Billy Gillispie-to-Calipari transition.

Getting bigger

The Triangle teams (North Carolina, Duke, North Carolina State) have at least two quality bigs coming in next year. Can you compare and contrast the bigs from each school.

-- Barry from Durham, N.C.
North Carolina has the top big guy of the three schools in John Henson. Exceptionally long in the mold of Brandan Wright and Ed Davis, Henson is both athletic and exceptionally skilled. The only problem is that he is thin and weak physically. There is talk of him playing some three, which is conceivable but unlikely. The main point on Henson is that he should be effective offensively as a freshman but a potential defensive liability against bulkier players. He will make plays defensively, however, with his length and athleticism.

His teammates Travis Wear and David Wear are solid big men but will struggle to find playing time as freshmen with Davis, Henson, Deon Thompson and Tyler Zeller ahead of them in the rotation. The interesting psychological component is that they will be competing against each other for limited minutes when one of the demands in their recruitment was that they would not share the same position.

Ryan Kelly of Duke is the second-most skilled big man of this group, but like Henson he is a finesse player in need of bulk. He will be great in pick-and-pop situations and has a strong feel for the game, but what he can give Duke defensively and on the boards is a big question.

His future teammate Miles Plumlee will help Duke's interior defense with his size, athleticism and ability to go get a rebound. But Duke fans should not expect a lot offensively from Plumlee. Like Josh McRoberts, he is a good passer and comfortable with the ball, but he doesn't have a scorer's game or mentality.

North Carolina State's Richard Howell is a power forward who probably won't ever be a star but will likely be a significant contributor early in his career. He's limited athletically, but he has a nice blend of rugged physicality and skill. He controls his space around the basket, and he is effective offensively in both the high post and low post.

Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with North Carolina State's other big man Jordan Vandenberg, a 7-footer from Australia.

Gator misses

It seems to me that Florida basketball has just not lived up to the recruiting that the football team is on. To me it was actually a surprise that we picked up Kenny Boynton. So my question is, how close was John Wall to signing with the Gators, and will we have a good shot at Brandon Knight in 2010?

-- Andrew from Milwaukee
I can't speak to the football side of things, and I'll say that I would have been surprised if Boynton hadn't gone with Florida. Nonetheless, you bring up a valid point about the woes of Florida basketball recruiting. Despite bringing in a number of highly ranked prospects, the Gators haven't produced as expected.

And I can guarantee you that no one is more disappointed in the Gators' basketball recruiting than coach Billy Donovan. The problem too many finesse players who aren't athletic or tough enough to defend or rebound. Florida has gradually become a zone defense team that is hoping to make shots on the offensive end.

Look for a shift in Florida's recruiting strategy, and look for Donovan to go all out to land Knight, whom they do have a good shot at getting.

Not done yet

Is North Carolina done recruiting this year? Who are they looking at to pair with Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall?

-- Gary from Charlotte, N.C.
Coach Roy Williams is not done recruiting. He is working to add a quality small forward to North Carolina's 2010 recruiting class. No. 2-ranked overall prospect Harrison Barnes is Williams' top target, but he is playing catch up to at least Duke and Kansas.

Roscoe Smith and Casey Prather are plan "B" options. And the sleeper recruit is the long and intriguing Rod Odom. Williams and his staff will closely watch these three prospects in July.

Missing piece

With Ohio State's 2010 class looking to be one of the best, do you think they will be able to get a point guard? Who are they looking at to fill the position?

-- Grayson from Columbus, Ohio
This is exactly the irony of Ohio State's 2010 recruiting class. It is the No. 1-ranked recruiting class and is stacked at every position except point guard, which is a major priority for the program.

The other irony is that Ohio State didn't recruit two four-star point guards from its own state. Juwan Staten is instead committed to Dayton, and Aaron Craft is headed to Tennessee.

Presently, Phil Pressey, Cory Joseph, Trevor Releford, Joe Jackson and Lavonte Dority are on the Ohio State hot board at the point guard position.

Pressey and Jackson are highly unlikely to be Buckeyes in my opinion. Ohio State does have a good shot at Joseph, whom they and most of the rest of the country have offered. Releford and Dority might be more realistic options.

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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