With the July evaluation period kicking in, a lot of fans are eager for breakdowns on their school's top targets and committed players.
In this week's mailbag, national basketball and recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer provides his take on Scotty Hopson, Iman Shumpert and other top prospects.
How high for Hopson?
Jerry, I was wondering if you could comment more on Scotty Hopson's performance at the LeBron James Skills Academy and how you think he will project as a college player. Also, everything that I have read lately has Scotty as at least a top-10 caliber prospect. But after a jump back to 50 and now still only No. 20, what will it take for him to climb back into his initial 10 position.
-- Seth from Vicksburg
----- Scotty Hopson might very well end up in the top 10. His ranking has been the victim of his inconsistent play. We have always known Hopson was a very talented player, but his passion for
the game and desire to compete have been in question. Apparently he has turned the corner in this regard, because his play this summer has been inspired.
Offensively, he is nearly unguardable as a scorer. He has a great jump shot and can slash to the basket with explosiveness and finesse. His high-rising floater off the dribble is a thing of beauty, and
it's a surprise when it doesn't go in.
Where Hopson needs to improve is in his defensive play and his work on the boards. He needs to take the motor he plays with when the ball is in his hands and apply it to other areas of his game.
He has a chance to be a very special player in college, and projects as a legitimate NBA shooting guard prospect.
Shumpert on the rise
I was wondering what your take on Iman Shumpert is? I heard he just got offered by UNC and would like to know what caliber player he is. Thanks!
-- Alex from Oak Park
----- Iman Shumpert has a great chance at breaking into a five-star ranking. I was quite impressed with his passing ability and overall feel for the game at the LeBron James US Skills Academy.
Shumpert also defended well and looks to be a legitimate combo guard at 6-foot-4. His ability to play both guard positions makes him an attractive prospect. I think he could excel at either position.
As a shooting guard, he has adequate size and a smooth jumper. He shot the ball very well off the catch, and also brings a point-guard mentality to the position. He's a quality post feeder and has
the ability to blend into the flow of the game.
As a point guard, he gives you great size and the ability to smother smaller point guards with his length and quickness. He doesn't dominate the ball, and has a feel for passing the ball up the floor.
I also like the way he plays at a controlled speed once he beats his man and gets inside the arc. His tempo allows him to make sound decisions on the move. The one reservation I had after
watching him is whether he lets the game come to him too much. Sometimes I think he should force the action a little more as a playmaker.
Future bright for Waiters
Syracuse recently picked up Dion Waiters, a 2010 recruit. What can you tell me about this kid?
-- Andrew from Athens
I really liked what I saw out of Dion Waiters at the Nike Hoop Jamboree. He is powerfully built at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds and has quickness as well. He played aggressively as a point guard,
but I didn't feel he forced too much action. He wasn't shy about shooting, but most of his attempts found the bottom of the net. Defenders had a tough time keeping him in front, and Waiters looked
very comfortable shooting the ball off the quick pull-up.
He certainly has a scorer's mentality, but the ability to be an overall playmaker appeared to be there. He also has the tools to be an excellent defender.
Thompson moving up '09 list?
My favorite team is UCLA, and I have been following their recruiting very closely. It seems like their 2008 class may end up being one of the best in the country, but the 2009 class intrigues me. I
know about the Wear twins and Jordan Hamilton, whom they are targeting, but lately I have been hearing a lot of clamor about this kid Hollis Thompson. Who is he, and is he the type of player that can compete and make the 2009 class among the best? Thanks in advance.
-- Bryan from Atlanta
----- Hollis Thompson is an intriguing prospect who will very likely move up in the 2009 class (he is currently ranked No. 36). Although he didn't dominate at the LeBron James US Skills
Academy, he did prove that he can play toe-to-toe with the big boys in the 2008 class. Thompson is a likely candidate for five-star status.
An intelligent player, Thompson has a great feel for how to play without the ball. That is a rare trait these days. With the ball in his hands, Thompson makes the quick pass and rarely overdribbles.
He also shoots the ball well off the catch. Simply put, he's an efficient player.
Now, he doesn't handle the ball like Arizona State-bound James Harden, but there is something about Thompson that really reminds me of Harden. It could be Thompson's efficiency, length
and sneaky athleticism.
Blessing or curse?
Do you think it helps or hurts Jerry Wainwright coaching the 19U USA Team during the July evaluation period? Since these games are in Serbia, home of Demon-hopeful Drazen Zlovaric (who is
also playing in these games), do you think it gives DePaul a "leg-up" on his recruitment? Thanks as always!
-- Michael from Chicago
It is a great honor for Wainwright to coach the team and represent the USA, but unfortunately it probably hurts DePaul's recruiting efforts more than it helps them. It does help in that it is a
prestigious honor to coach the team, and I'm sure it does help DePaul in the recruitment of Drazen Zlovaric.
The downside is that Wainwright is missing valuable evaluation time. July is the biggest month in the recruiting calendar, and it will be difficult to make up for the missed time.