January 23, 2010

Meyer's Mailbag: Another top class for UK?

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Jan 15: Top teams chasing Ross
Jan 7: Big men in high demand
Dec 17: Can UK land 2011's top three?

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

Could Kentucky put together a 2010 recruiting class that would surpass Memphis for the No. 1 ranking?

Could there be a shakeup at the top of the Rivals150 for the class of 2010?

How do two of the top point guards in the 2010 class - Brandon Knight and Kyrie Irving - compare?

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


Class under construction

If Kentucky lands Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, C.J. Leslie and Doron Lamb to go along with Stacey Poole, will that be enough to overtake Memphis as the top recruiting class for the second year in a row?

- Drew from Ft. Wright

Memphis certainly has a loaded recruiting class with seven recruits - three of which are in the top 12. A hypothetical Kentucky class, however, of Knight, Jones, Leslie, Lamb and Poole would take over the No. 1 spot in the rankings.

This hypothetical five-man recruiting class would give Kentucky a legitimate starting lineup in the class. Knight would be the point guard, Lamb at the off guard, Poole as the small forward and Jones and Leslie as the two big men. All five prospects are ranked in the top 30, with Knight No. 1, Jones No. 13, Leslie No. 14, Lamb No. 21 and Poole No. 27.

In addition, these players would fit in terrifically in John Calipari's dribble-drive offense. Knight and Lamb are crafty with the basketball, Poole is a powerful slasher and Jones and Leslie are extremely skilled ballhandlers as post players.

Now, handicapping the likelihood of Kentucky landing this class is another story. But Coach Calipari - who has already signed Poole - does have a realistic chance of landing each of the other prospects.


New No. 1?

Jerry, could there be a new No. 1 in the next 2010 update, or is Brandon Knight holding steady? Could someone like Tobias Harris or Josh Selby bump Knight out of that No. 1 spot, or is Knight there to stay?

Franklin from Memphis

I don't necessarily foresee a change at the top of the rankings, but Knight as the No. 1 prospect is not set in stone. Truth be told, a strong argument can be made for the top five prospect in the Rivals150 being the top prospect in the class. There is no John Wall - a player who is significantly better the rest - in this year's class.

There just isn't that much separation between the top five prospects in the 2010 class. Knight is a prolific scorer, playmaker and defender who plays the game's marquee position. Selby, however, is right there with Knight in pretty much every measurable for a point guard.

Harris has as complete a game as any of the power forwards in the class. Jared Sullinger is a potential Kevin Love as a rugged low post player. And Harrison Barnes, the top wing player in the class, has a well-rounded game.

Similar to the 2008 class, the postseason all-star games for the 2010 class should be ultra-competitive affairs with multiple prospects jockeying for the No. 1 ranking.


Impact freshmen?

Please compare Brandon Knight and Kyrie Irving? Are both capable of running the show as freshmen at elite programs? Can either come close to the success Wall is having as a freshman?

- Teddy from Westchester

First of all, both Knight and Irving are fully capable of running the show as freshman. John Wall, however, is a unique talent who appears destined to win player of the year honors as a freshman. I don't think we can expect anyone in the 2010 class to enjoy the type of first-year success that Wall is enjoying.

Knight and Irving are both ultra-competitive and physical lead guards. They handle the ball at a high level and generally can get the ball to wherever they want on the court. They also pass the ball well, but both are a little more oriented as scorers than distributors.

As scorers, I would give Knight the edge as a long distance shooter. I'd call it a wash when it comes to scoring in the midrange and getting the ball to the basket. As penetrators, Knight is a little more powerful and Irving perhaps a little more crafty.

Athletically, Knight is more explosive and a little longer. This factors into their defensive play more than any other area. Knight is an elite defender who moves his feet extremely well and can hold his position on the court. Irving has great instincts as an off-the-ball defender and creates havoc with his quick, strong hands. But he does not move his feet nearly as well as Knight.


More for Memphis?

Is Memphis done for recruiting in 2010?

- Matt from Memphis

Coach Josh Pastner has recruited seven prospects to Memphis and holds the No. 1 ranked 2010 recruiting class. However, he is not finished yet in 2010. Memphis would love to add one more quality prospect to its 2010 class. I don't see them signing a prospect just to sign an eighth prospect, but they will sign a prospect who can help them win Conference USA and compete for a national championship.

It appears that Todd Mayo, the younger brother of O.J. Mayo, is the target for that eighth scholarship slot. Mayo is averaging more than 26 points per game for Germantown High School in suburban Memphis. Like his older brother, Mayo is a powerful combo guard who can score in bunches - but he also has a versatile game.

Mayo's recruitment is getting a late start because he did not play on the travel circuit. Memphis will have plenty of competition from the likes of Tennessee, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.


Early entries

How surprised would you be if Patrick Patterson is the only starter to enter the draft for Kentucky after this year?

- Bryan from Loveland

I wouldn't be surprised. I would be utterly shocked if Kentucky only lost Patterson to the NBA.

I don't see any way John Wall comes back as the projected No. 1 pick. Demarcus Cousins is a lock for the first round and a potential lottery pick. And even Eric Bledsoe could possibly test the NBA draft waters. The NBA folks love him as a point guard. The question would be what threshold Bledsoe has for how high he needs to be picked in order to enter the draft.

The heavy losses Kentucky will likely suffer after this season mean Calipari will be under a great deal of pressure to sign a top-flight class this spring.

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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