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August 12, 2010

Meyer's Mailbag: Who's the best in Texas?

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Aug 6: Can a PG top Teague in 2011?
July 17: Is Rivers Duke bound?
June 5: ACC's best class could get better

Got a question? Click here to send it to Meyer's Mailbag

There is a lot of talent down in Texas in the 2012 class. Who is the most talented of those prospects?

Is Scott Drew on the verge of being to power forwards what John Calipari is to point guards?

And is coaching the USA National Team a recruiting advantage or disadvantage for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke?

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


Texas talent

2012 talent in Texas right now is amazing. Who do you think is the best player in Texas now, and who do you think will be the best player from Texas in the long run?

- Lance from Mesquite

There are certainly a lot of talented 2012 prospects in the state of Texas. Eleven of the top 100 prospects in the country are from Texas, and seven out of the top 50 prospects in the country are out of Texas.

One Texas prospect in particular, however, stands out as the best prospect now and in the long run. Seven-foot forward Isaiah Austin out of Arlington (Texas) Grace Prep is that prospect.

The most unique prospect playing high school basketball in this country, Austin has the most advanced skill set I've ever seen in a player at his age and with his length. He handles, passes and shoots like a 6-foot-2 guard.

Now here comes a comparison. And note that this is a projection, and Austin has a long way to go to get in this player's realm. But Austin reminds me of Dirk Nowitzki. As a fellow 7-footer, Austin is primarily a face-up player with high level ball skills like Nowitzki. Austin will likely never be the pure shooter that Nowitzki is, but it looks like Austin will be a high level shooter. On the plus side for Austin, he is a better shot blocker than Nowitzki.

Areas of weakness for Austin are a lack of physical strength, a reluctance to play physical and a tendency to drift in and out of the game. The positive is that these are all areas that he has the capability to improve.


Forward thinking

Jerry, If Perry Jones is a one-and-done top 5-10 draft choice, would this help allow Scott Drew to be able to "pick and choose" power forwards every year? Similar to Calipari and PG's? Let's not forget that Calpari didn't produce any NBA PG's until Derrick Rose. Now, every PG wants to play for KY. Can Coach Drew do the same at the PF position?

- Stephen from Seoul, South Korea

Jones will certainly be a great test case for the Baylor program's ability to quickly develop an elite talent. First-round NBA Draft pick Ekpe Udoh was certainly a success story for a big man developing, but that was not a one-year turnaround out of high school. If we are talking about consistently nabbing elite power forwards every year, then one year is the window for development.

But "picking and choosing" is probably going a little too far. For one, Jones is already projected as high as the No. 2 pick in the draft by some analysts. So there are already extremely high expectations for Jones and the possibility of Baylor taking a hit if Jones slides down the draft board. Secondly, Jones is a Texas prospect, as was Udoh, and so is recent 2012 power forward commitment Isaiah Austin. So it is no safe bet that Baylor will be able to "pick and choose" on a national level even if they successfully develop these power forwards.

I don't want to come across too negative, however. Coach Drew is doing a great job recruiting, especially at the power forward position. Just the fact that you would ask this question and the fact that it is a legitimate question represents the positive momentum of the Baylor basketball program.


Three's a crowd?

Could a backcourt of Jabari Brown, Ben McLemore, and Josiah Turner co-exist? Also, how realistic is it that Kansas ends up with this class?

- Emerson from Spring Hill

Without a doubt these three backcourt players could co-exist, and I'm sure Kansas would love to have these three pieces as part of their puzzle.

Turner is a physical point guard with a well-rounded game. Brown is a knockdown shooter with the physical strength to guard the three if need be. And McLemore is a top-notch athlete with a well-rounded game who can also guard the two or the three.

It might be more realistic for Kansas to land two of these three highly recruited prospects, but getting all three is definitely a realistic possibility.

McLemore has been considered a heavy Kansas lean since the beginning of his recruitment. Turner has Kansas near the top of his list, if not at the top. Kansas is also firmly on Brown's list and there is talk of Turner and Brown wanting to play together. However, there is also talk that Washington might just be the team to beat for Brown.


Recruiting advantage?

With Coach K coaching the USA team do you think it has hurt or helped him on the recruiting trail?

- Daryl from Bryans Road

I addressed this question around this time last year, but it is worth addressing again because I'm even more convinced about the answer to the question. It has definitely helped Duke in recruiting to have Coach K coaching the national team.

Just looking at the numbers, Duke has the No. 10-ranked recruiting class coming in as freshmen this year, led by elite point guard Kyrie Irving. The 2011 recruiting class already consists of one five-star prospect and two four-star prospects with an excellent chance that elite guard Austin Rivers joins the class.

The prestige of Coach K coaching the most important team in America far outweighs whatever time it might take away from him personally recruiting. He still gets out on the road enough to decide which prospects he wants to go after, and those prospects seem to understand why he might not be sitting courtside at every one of their games in July.


Top-10 class?

What are the odds of Arizona landing Jahii Carson (PG), Norman Powell (SG), and Amir Garrett (SF) to go with Sidiki Johnson (PF) for the 2011 class. If they land those will that put them in a top 10 recruiting class?

- Motley from Tucson

There are realistic odds that Arizona could land these three prospects to go along with Johnson. Carson and Powell both have Arizona in their top three schools, and Arizona is one of the five high major schools that have offered Garrett.

Besides the fact that all four of these prospects are ranked as four-stars, this is a balanced class with four players who could play on the court together. Every year is a new year and all rankings are relative to that year, but in looking at the 2010 team rankings, this hypothetical Arizona class would be right on the cusp of a top 10 ranking.

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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