Thursday, October 1, 2009

NHR Mailbag: Oct. 1

Wow, what a week for questions. There are a number of great inquiries in this week's edition. We cover all kinds of topics, including one of the most underrated recruiting classes in 2010, Josh Selby, Roscoe Smith (pictured), North Carolina hoops and much, much more.

Anything you can tell me about the St. Joseph Hawks 2010 recruits?

I really like the 2010 recruiting class that Phil Martelli and staff are building. In fact, if they don’t crack the final top 30 team rankings in 2010, they will probably be one of the top 10 mid-major recruiting classes in 2010.

Clearly C.J. Aiken is the prize recruit at this stage. At 6-9 and highly athletic, he’s already a step above most players at his position in the Atlantic 10. His impact should be felt immediately.

As good as Aiken is and will be, I really like Darius Quarles in the class. He committed early to St. Joe’s and had he waited, it wouldn’t shock me at all if the entire Big East were to recruit him. Quarles is a legit 6-7 and a legit small forward. I really like his versatility and size on the wing. He and Aiken have great futures past college with basketball.

Langston Galloway, a Louisiana native, is an interesting commitment. He is a cerebral player that can play both guard positions. I’ve been watching him since he was a freshman in high school and have enjoyed watching his progression into the player he is now. Combo guards have shined at St. Joe’s in the past. No reason to think he can’t as well.

Quincy Miller ahead of Reggie Bullock? Elaborate please.

That was a tough call for me to rank Miller ahead of Bullock in the recent Hot Dozen rankings for North Carolina. I like Miller, a junior, a little more simply because he has more time to improve. With his size (6-8) and his shooting ability his position, he can be one of the most deadly offensive players in the country. Miller is a multi-talented prospect that can play all over the floor.

Bullock is the second best shooting guard in the county in the class of 2010 behind Memphis bound guard Will Barton in my opinion. Bullock has ideal size for a shooting guard and will be one of the best players in college basketball when he gets to Chapel Hill.

However, I think Miller has better long-term potential than Bullock. But not by much.

Any read on Josh Selby yet?

I really don’t have a good read on Selby. None whatsoever. But we can all guess, right? If I were to rank the schools in likeliness of landing the enigmatic guard from Baltimore it would be as follows: 1. Kentucky 2. Kansas 3. Syracuse 4. Baylor 5. Miami 6. Indiana. That is a total shot in the dark guess.

What are you feeling for Roscoe Smith? Back up for Duke in Barnes sweepstakes? Or real deal? UCONN is in on him hard.

Good question. Smith’s recruitment has always been a big mystery to me because I just can’t figure it out. I too have wondered if Smith is a back up if the Blue Devils can’t land Harrison Barnes or whether or not he is truly a must-get guy for Coach K and staff. Last year, Duke put all of it’s eggs in the Kenny Boynton basket and lost it all. I wonder if that led to more targets than usual in 2010.

I agree that Connecticut is in there strong with Smith. And, like Selby, I’m taking a shot in the dark with this one but I’d order the teams as such: Georgetown, Connecticut and Duke.

Xavier has had a tremendous amount of recent success both on the court (2 Elite Eight, 1 Sweet Sixteen) and off the court (multiple top 100 recruits). That being said, we receive tremendous notoriety as a "stepping stone" school for our head coaches and often unfairly receive the dreaded "mid-major" label. We now are consistently landing players ranked 70-150 range. Do you ever see X making the jump to compete for the upper echelon 4* recruits and potentially a 5*? Do you think given the players we are currently landing we can compete to take that next step to win a national championship? If not, what would it take i.e. new league, firm long term coaching commitment from Chris Mack?

Wow, that’s a loaded question. Let me start by saying Xavier is no longer a mid-major program. It is that simple. The school has been too deep into NCAA tournaments for too long to be considered that. The school administration is fully committed to the basketball program and every single head coach that has been there has struggled with the decision to leave the program for a school in a BCS conference.

You could even argue that outside of Thad Matta’s trip to the National Championship game with Mike Conley, Greg Oden and Daquan Cook, every coach that leaves Xavier for another program never had quite the same success when they coached in Cincinnati.

The team has been that successful with the 70-150 level players for so long. Rarely, if ever, do you have short term players at the school, too. The players that are in the 70-150 range stay for four years and you can build continuity which breeds success in college hoops.

If Xavier were to jump to say the Big East of Big Ten, they would clearly need to land the five-star type of players. But why make the jump to the Big East and face that brutal night in, night out schedule? Or even join the Big Ten, a conference where Xavier would immediately be a top three team in the league but give up an automatic first or second place finish in the Atlantic 10 every year? I understand the thought but the Atlantic 10 makes too much sense and Xavier has been very successful because of their current conference.

With Pierre Henderson-Niles graduating after this season and Angel Garcia’s health being questionable, the Memphis Tigers are only left with one true big man (Will Coleman) for the 2010 season. How are there chances looking with Tarik Black and are there any other bigs high on the radar?

Memphis has a very good chance at landing Black. With Joe Jackson on board and Chris Crawford making his decision on Thursday afternoon (and I wouldn’t be shocked if he picked Memphis), Black could be next to pledge to Josh Pastner. Black makes the most sense for the Tigers. I love his toughness, athleticism, rugged play and his attitude around the rim. He wants to punish the iron. How can you not love that in your big man?

Another name worth watching is Freddy Asprilla, a former center at Florida International who is now at a junior college. He is visiting Memphis in the near future and those around him would love to see him in a high profile situation for future pro endeavors.

With so much depending on a ultra fast point guard, who can handle the rock, to run North Carolina offense what point guard will be the next Ty Lawson or Ray Felton for the Tar Heels in the near future? And why is C.J. Leslie not rank in the top 15 and does Carolina get him?

Great question. North Carolina is at its best when speed is in the backcourt. Moreover, Roy Williams basketball teams are better when there is speed in the backcourt. This year’s team will be interesting to watch because there isn’t great speed there right now. And Kendall Marshall, as good as he is as a game manager and flat out winner, he isn’t the quickest guy either.

Finding speed in 2011 and/or 2012 is a must. A couple of guys to watch in 2011 are: Marquis Rankin (fits the speed mold), Quinn Cook.

Guys to watch in 2012: L.J. Rose, Jaylen Beckham and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera.

Regarding Leslie not being a top 15 player - I never saw him play at a level that a top 15 guy should be playing at. Now, I probably do have him undervalued as I don’t currently have him in the top 25. It is something that I acknowledged after I release my post-summer top 25. I need to see more consistency, attention to rebounding and finishing around the basket before I get too excited about him being an elite level player in 2010. Nevertheless, he’s a talent and getting better at those areas. I get the feeling that if UNC really wants him, they could probably get him.

Michael Bradley is interested in studying pharmacy, however Boston College doesn't have a pharmacy program. Any idea why he scheduled a visit to Boston College? Who do you think is currently the front-runner in his recruitment?

Kids say the darndest things. In all my years of covering recruiting, the major field is one of the most misunderstood angles. I, for one, changed my major three times. I went to school for pre-law and ended up in sport management with a communications focus. Mixed in the middle of all of that, I was an English major. Point of that story: majors change, opinions change and college coaches can really sell their program. Looks like Boston College certainly did.

As far as a front-runner – hard to really tell. If I were to take a guess, UConn would be my first choice.

Last week you said Reco McCarter was "harder to find than a missing sock in the dryer." However, VCU found him and received a verbal. According to some of the internet sites this was a major get for VCU. Any thoughts?

I wish I could elaborate on him. But since I’m still looking for that other missing sock, I can’t. Those that are close to him and those that have coached him have all spoken highly of him and believe he will be a valuable contributor for Shaka Smart.

How the heck did Binghamton find itself with five knuckleheads who had to be dismissed? Bad luck or did they sell their soul for a chance to go to the NCAAs? Can a coach survive this? Other than scouting intramural games is there any chance of replacing those players this late in the off-season?

Binghamton knew what they were getting into when they recruited those kids. Each of those guys came to college with history. Bad luck? Not really. Bad apples? Absolutely. Get enough bad apples together and the rot really begins to smell. The school and coach Kevin Broadus did the right thing by kicking each of these guys to the curb. But now you have to wonder about more ripple effect.

Joel Thirer, Binghamton’s Athletic Director, resigned on Wednesday. You do have to wonder if Broadus can survive this as well. Something tells me that he won’t.

As far as replacing the missing pieces – you can’t. Not right now at least. I’m not sure how you do it. Know anyone at Binghamton that can play ball? Or stand over 6-8? Have them make a trip down to the basketball office. And hopefully the campus police have never seen your face.

What's the deal with Shawn Kemp Jr.? Any idea why he re-opened his recruitment? Even though he was recruited by Alabama's previous coach I thought he recently solidified his commitment to Anthony Grant?

Kemp cited that he and the new Alabama staff wanted to feel each other out more.

I would not be shocked to see Georgia recruit Kemp and recruit him hard. Kemp grew up in Georgia. Mark Fox recruited Kemp when he was at Nevada and the Wolfpack were second on his list when he committed to Alabama last year. UGA also has Phillip Pearson on staff. Pearson was at Alabama when Kemp committed to the Tide. There are a lot of over-lapping connections for the Bulldogs.

I’d expect his recruitment to take on all comers at this point. Schools are looking high and low for players right now and Kemp is one of the best available big men in the country at the moment.

Anthony Grant signed point guard Ben Eblen this year and recently got a commitment from a higher rated point guard Trevor Releford for 2010. Did he just recruit over Eblen?

That happens. Eblen is a good player and I’m a fan of his game but truth be told, if he is your point guard, you aren’t beating teams like Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Ole Miss and South Carolina right now. Enter Releford. He at least gives you a shot in the highly competitive SEC right now.

The Tide coaches love Releford’s feel for the game and his ability to run a team. They believe he can be a starter from the day he gets to Tuscaloosa.

Moreover, Alabama needed Eblen in the 2009 class for depth purposes. A point guard was a need in 2010 regardless.

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