Rivals.com basketball recruiting analysts Jerry Meyer and Eric Bossi weigh in on four current topics.
Which 2011 recruiting class outside the national rankings impresses you the most?
Bossi: I guess a lot depends on whether you really consider 2010 five-star Tony Mitchell a "recruit" but I'm really impressed with what Johnny Jones and his staff at North Texas has done on the recruiting trail. They've already built the Mean Green into a program that can compete with teams from the BCS conferences (wins over Texas Tech and LSU this season). In addition to Mitchell, they will bring in Rivals150 wing Jordan Williams next season. The rest of the signing class with in-staters Forrest Robinson, Chris Jones, Trey Norris and junior college guard Brandon Walton is impressive as well.
Meyer:Villanova has the No. 7 recruiting class in the Big East and just missed out on a spot in the national rankings. Four-star point guard Tyrone Johnson has a physical and mature game, and is capable of playing off the ball. Darrun Hilliard and Achraf Yacoubou are capable wing scorers. And big man Markus Kennedy will bolster the frontline with his strength and skilled game.
Who is a player currently outside the 2011 Rivals150 that you feel is making a strong case for inclusion when final rankings are done this spring?
Bossi: Given that he just missed the cut coming out of the summer, Boston College signee Ryan Anderson of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly was a guy whose progress will be monitored closely. As it turns out, the 6-foot-8 face-up forward is having a very strong senior season and has evaluators on the West Coast buzzing with his performance. On the year, Anderson is averaging an impressive double-double of slightly more than 17 points and 10 rebounds a game. More impressively, he's led 16-0 Poly to the No. 4 ranking in Rivals High's Top 100, while being named MVP of the Pacific Shores, National Prep Classic and Torrey Pines Holiday Classic tournaments.
Meyer:Colorado signee Spencer Dinwiddie really impressed me at the Spalding Hoophall Classic a few weeks ago. In a 16-point win over Mount Vernon High, Dinwiddie controlled the game from his point guard position while only attempting three shots. Once Taft grabbed the initial lead, Dinwiddie controlled the pace and fed the ball to his post players for a game-high 11 assists. He has great length and court presence for a point guard, giving him excellent upside for the next level.
Is there a prospect on the horizon who could have a similar impact inside as a freshman as Jared Sullinger?
Bossi: Probably more than any other position, the big guys often face a major transition in terms of how much bigger and stronger inside guys are in college. For whatever reason, big guys seem to arrive in college less skilled. They don't touch the ball as much as the wings and point guards, who seem to have an easier time flourishing as freshmen. In the class of 2011, I do think that Indiana signee Cody Zeller has the skill level to make an instant impact and he's done a very good job of adding strength. Should that continue, I think he could make an immediate impact. Looking across all the high school classes, the two guys who stick out to me are 2012's Andre Drummond and 2013's Julius Randle. Both already are equipped with the physical tools to play college basketball and have high skill levels.
Meyer: Out of the 2012 class, DaJuan Coleman might not have the upside that fellow post players Andre Drummond and Isaiah Austin have. Coleman's strength and physical style, however, might give him the best chance to be dominant as a freshman out of these highly ranked big men. Coleman controls a lot of space, scores through contact and has great hands and a soft touch. As long as he stays in shape, he will be ready to produce quality numbers from the moment he steps onto a college court.
Who is a coach on the mid-major level that you feel will be attractive to high-major programs when the annual hiring/firing cycle begins at the end of the season?
Bossi: Because I'm based out of Kansas City, I have the opportunity to see a lot of Missouri Valley Conference games and from what I've seen, Wichita State's Gregg Marshall and Missouri State's Cuonzo Martin both have to be on the radars of high-major colleges. Martin has brought the Bears back from life-support status in just three years and has proven that he can both develop players and find hidden gems on the recruiting trail. In Marshall's case, he proved at Winthrop that he can build an NCAA Tournament team and he's in the process of doing so again at Wichita State. Notably, Marshall has been able to attract recruits from outside the Midwest.
Meyer: Now in his sixth season as head coach, Dave Rose has turned BYU into a national power. The play of Jimmer Fredette has created a huge buzz around the program, but the coaching and recruiting of Rose is the foundation of the program. He is considered one of the top coaches in the country, and I wouldn't know why a high-major program wouldn't go after him.