Rivals.com basketball recruiting analysts Jerry Meyer and Eric Bossi weigh in on four current topics.
Which program or programs outside the Big Six conferences is compiling the most impressive 2011 class so far?
Meyer:Xavier is almost always at the top of the list for non-Big Six schools in regards to basketball recruiting. They are at the top of the list so far in the class of 2011. Four-star small forward Dezmine Wells is a powerful athlete with a versatile game. Darwin Davis is a point guard with scoring punch. And rounding out the class is Jalen Reynolds, a promising power forward prospect.
Bossi: Well, if you go strictly by conference then there's no other answer than Chris Mack's Xavier program. They are currently No. 18 in our top 20 classes for 2011 thanks to four-star Dezmine Wells and three-stars Darwin Davis and Jalen Reynolds. The same thing could be said for Butler where they've amassed a nice class led by Rivals150 member Roosevelt Jones. Others that jump out at me are Houston where James Dickey and his staff have landed three in-state, three-star prospects. Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference has its own trio of Texas bred three-stars and UTEP and New Mexico are a couple of others that have put together good-looking classes at non Big Six programs.
Meyer: Number one, Matta has both a powerful presence and a down-to-earth approach to his persona. That is a potent combination when it comes to recruiting. Ohio State is also in a fertile region for prospects. And Matta always surrounds himself with a top-notch coaching staff. Also, those that follow recruiting closely know how success on the court and recruiting success are intertwined. Lately, Ohio State has had plenty of both.
Bossi: I think coach Matta and his staff have an awful lot going for them. Ohio State is a great job, there's a deep local talent base and they've shown that they can put guys into the NBA. Those are all really appealing things to a kid. On top of that, Matta has a great personality and he's got as good a group of assistants as there is in the country in Dave Dickerson, Jeff Boals, Brandon Miller and their basketball ops guy David Egelhoff.
Is there a young assistant coach making his mark - perhaps for the first time - in a big way on the recruiting trail?
Meyer: I really like what Ulric Maligi brings to the Houston staff. He is a dynamic and aggressive recruiter who is well liked across the business. Although he is young, he brings a wealth of grassroots experience to his job as a former coach for the successful Dallas Mustangs travel team.
Bossi: I wouldn't call him a first timer, but Illinois assistant Jerrance Howard has got to be one of the best young assistants in the country. A local kid who is working at the school that he attended, he's got a great sense of his area and a lot of passion for the program that he's working for.
Which state(s) do you see producing a lot more talent in recent years that might surprise people?
Meyer: Iowa is generally thought of as a state that consistently produces solid mid-major talent but not high major talent. The state, however, has farmed out some quality high major prospects across the country recently. North Carolina grabbed Harrison Barnes, one of the premier prospects in the class of 2010, out of the state. Arizona State also landed Chanse Creekmur out of Iowa. In 2011 Jarrod Uthoff is committed to Wisconsin and Josh Oglesby is committed to Iowa. The 2012 class has at least three high major prospects in Marcus Paige, Wesley Staten and Adam Woodbury. And the 2013 class has one of the top national prospects in Peter Jok. It will be interesting to see what type of success the new coaches at Iowa and Iowa State have at retaining their state's top prospects.
Bossi: I don't know that I could narrow it down to one state. But I do think that we don't talk nearly enough about how much talent southern states have been putting out. I still think that people sleep some on the South because a lot of the states down there are more traditional football states. North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee are all putting out a lot of talent these days.