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October 16, 2009

Meyer's Mailbag: Knight behind previous No. 1s

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Oct 9: Competition for top 2010 class
Oct 2: Who's getting the better PG?
Sept 25: Poole a big get for UK?
Michigan State and N.C. State fans are curious where their potential 2010 recruiting classes would land in the rankings?

How would some of the top prospects in recent years rank against each other?

Could a couple of Kentucky's top power forward recruiting targets coexist with each other?

These questions and more are addressed by National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
Ranking the No. 1s

If John Wall, Mike Gilchrist, Greg Oden, Michael Beasley, LeBron James, Brandon Knight, and Dwight Howard were all in the same recruiting class, what would have been their rankings based on their final HS evaluations?

-- Russ from Lexington
Tough question, but a fun question. My mind might very well change tomorrow, but here is how I would rank these guys against each other, trying not to take into consideration their play after high school.

No. 1: LeBron James - Perhaps a one-of-a-kind high school player.

No. 2: John Wall - He has a chance to take the point guard position to another level.

No. 3: Mike Gilchrist - I keep trying to avoid comparing him to the game's greatest small forward and player.

No. 4: Greg Oden - He was dominant defensively and unstoppable offensively as a prep player.

No. 5: Dwight Howard - He was physically dominant, and you could see the upside.

No. 6: Michael Beasley - He had the total package as a rebounding and scoring four man.

No. 7: Brandon Knight - Has everything you want in a big and physical point guard.

Coexisting at Kentucky?

With UK after Tobias Harris, C.J. Leslie, and Terrence Jones, could you see two of three playing together? Or are they so similar it would be a one-or-the-other deal?

-- Mark from Kentucky
All three of these prospects are primarily four men, but it is conceivable for all three to actually be on the court together - especially in the "Dribble Drive" offense. Leslie is capable of playing down a position at small forward. Out of the three, he has the best speed and quickness. He can defend a three and is the overall best defender of these prospects. With his leaping ability, he can even guard a center in a pinch. Offensively, he could play a wing slasher role.

Both Harris and Jones could move back and forth between power forward and center. I like Jones guarding the five, because of his physical strength.

Now, it is highly unlikely that Kentucky would land all three of these prospects, but these guys are skilled enough and versatile enough, that most any team in the country would love the chance to put all three of them on the court at the same time.

Spartan class

If Michigan State could pick up either Trey Zeigler or Adreian Payne, could they vault into the top five classes of 2010? Do you think that Izzo has put together the best long-term stimulus package of any other team for another chance at a Final Four?

-- Frank from Flint
Landing either of those prospects would put Michigan State in strong contention for a top-five spot as the rankings stand at the moment. The class would then have two immediate impact players in Keith Appling and either Zeigler or Payne.

I don't know if coach Tom Izzo's "long term stimulus package" is the best of any other team out there, but it is certainly near the top. Michigan State has a terrific team returning this year, and a solid to perhaps very good recruiting class. Izzo has found a successful formula of mixing star recruits in with developing recruits. It has provided stability and consistency to the program, whereas some programs live year by year with their recruiting. Others haven't been able to consistently put together good enough talent.

Michigan State has an identity as a program that plays physical and competes. Players that embrace the system improve, and as we saw last year, the team improves as a whole throughout the season.

Ellis vs. Goodman

Jerry, Could you provide a breakdown/comparison of the games of 2012 prospects Perry Ellis and Jordan Goodman? Which player do you think has a higher ceiling?

-- Greg from Hutchinson
Although Ellis and Goodman are both power forwards, their games differ greatly. Ellis has a mature and strong body. He also has a mature game. Not the most athletic player, Ellis isn't a vertical player who plays above the rim. But with his understanding of positioning and angles, Ellis is a big-time scoring and rebounding threat around the basket.

Goodman, on the other hand, has a thin, wiry body. His game is more of a finesse game, and he prefers to play facing the basket. Certainly Goodman doesn't have the strength of Ellis and isn't as good in traffic. But Goodman is more of a running and jumping athlete. That said, Goodman's game is not as developed or refined as Ellis' game.

Because of the underdeveloped nature of his game, Goodman has more upside than Ellis. However, it is very questionable that Goodman will ever develop the body and game to match where Ellis is right now.

Ellis might not be the superstar that he has prematurely been billed as by some, but he is a high-major power forward who will be productive at the next level. With Goodman, there are question marks because of the development that his game needs.

Top 10 to stay?

Hey Jerry - With NC State landing Luke Cothron last week to join Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown, will the Wolfpack have a top-10 class on its hands? Also, if they land C.J. Leslie, could we be looking at a top three or, dare I say it, a No. 1 class?

-- Jeff from Washington
NC State's 2010 recruiting class should hold up as a top-10 class. Right now the class is ranked No. 4, and it is difficult to see six teams jumping ahead of them in the rankings.

Land Leslie, and the Wolfpack jump Syracuse and Memphis for the No. 2 spot in the rankings.

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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