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June 12, 2009

Meyer's Mailbag: Top 2010 shooting guard?

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
June 5: Comparing Knight and Wall
May 29: 2010 prospects emerging
May 22: UK roster far from set
Who is the better prospect between Will Barton and Reggie Bullock, the top two shooting guards in the 2010 class?

Can Florida steal 2011 shooting guard P.J. Hairston out of ACC country?

What is Kentucky's next move in recruiting a shooting guard after losing out on Barton, its top target?

National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer answers these questions and more in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
Bullock vs. Barton

Explain the difference between Will Barton's game and Reggie Bullock's game? It seems to me that Bullock has more upside than Barton. Secondly, which one do you think will have a bigger impact?

-- Les from Winston-Salem, N.C.
Bullock is physically stronger than Barton and more of a pure shooter. Barton is a better one-on-one player with a wiggly dribble game and is a better passer.

Bullock certainly fits the mold of a physically strong NBA shooting guard who will hit transition and spot-up 3s and also score off turnaround jumpers. His dribble game is primarily a pull-up off a couple dribbles.

Barton reminds me of a mix of Rip Hamilton and Jamal Crawford in that he has that lanky build and can score running off screens and by creating off his dribble game. Barton also handles the ball well enough to play a little bit of point guard.

Both players are great prospects who are battling it out for that top shooting guard position in the 2010 class. If Bullock develops more of a dribble game, he might have the better upside. If Barton gains weight and refines his shooting stroke, he might have the better upside. It is a very difficult call at this point.

One thing that is certain is they will both have a major impact Bullock at North Carolina and Barton at Memphis. And I don't have the answer for who will have the bigger impact, either.

UNC lock?

Describe the game of P.J. Hairston. Is he a five-star caliber wing? And will Florida be able to steal him away from North Carolina?

-- Greg from Tampa, Fla.
Hairston is a sturdily built 6-foot-5 shooting guard who jumps well and can stroke it from deep. He has a reputation for being simply an offensive gunner, but this spring he is working hard to round out his game as a defender, rebounder and passer.

He definitely has five-star potential, but he hasn't fully convinced me yet that he is a five-star prospect. In my mind, he is right on that five-star cusp. If he proves that he does have a solid all-around game and can be counted on to stroke it from 3, then he is a no-brainer five-star. And I have a feeling he will prove this.

Florida has put some early work into recruiting Hairston, and Hairston has an offer from the Gators along with offers from Memphis and Wake Forest. North Carolina hasn't offered yet, but the Tar Heels likely will. Unfortunately for Florida, Hairston has several connections to North Carolina. For one, his mother is a huge UNC fan. He is AAU teammates with North Carolina 2010 commitment Reggie Bullock. And he attends the same high school Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley that produced current North Carolina player William Graves.

Package deal

Presuming Kentucky was the leader for Will Barton, what made him choose Memphis and what other options do the Wildcats have to use on their many scholarships next year? Is [Doron] Lamb a possibility? And how do their games compare?

-- Casey from Louisville, Ky.
Kentucky was the leader for Barton. The problem, though, was that they never got serious about Barton's younger brother Antonio Barton, who is also in the Class of 2010. Antonio is a high-major prospect, but he is not nearly the level of prospect that Kentucky is now recruiting under John Calipari. There are just too many better options at the point guard position (like Brandon Knight and Joe Jackson, for example) that Kentucky is recruiting.

As the No. 5-ranked shooting guard in the Class of 2010, Lamb is the highest-ranked uncommitted shooting guard on the board. He is now Kentucky's top target in the 2010 class.

Lamb, like Barton, is a high-level scorer. He doesn't have the explosiveness and wiggle to his game like Barton has, but he uses his size well and is crafty with the basketball. Defensively, Lamb doesn't have the potential that Barton has.

Quiet time

What is going on with Vander Blue?

-- Joe from Minneapolis
That is a good question. Ever since the highly ranked four-star prospect had a falling out with Wisconsin, his hometown school, things have been quiet. And it looks like things will remain quiet, at least for a while.

When I very recently got in touch with Blue, all he had to say was that he is open to everybody and that he will take official visits in the fall. He would not name any schools, so it probably won't be until July when we get a feel for which schools are in play based on what schools are tracking him during the evaluation period.

Duke's demise overstated?

Don't you think the demise of Duke has been overdone a bit much? Say what you want, it's still Coach K walking in your door. "I coach [Duke] for my main job and I spend my summers teaching Kobe, LeBron and Wade how to be winners." I think Duke may have suffered a little in recruiting, but long-term gains are worth it. I think Duke is going to pull a major coup in 2010.

-- Bobby from Florence, S.C.
Bobby, I do agree that Duke is still a very strong program despite some recent recruiting woes. We are far from seeing the demise of the program.

Duke, however, has suffered some crucial recruiting blows. There was a time when coach Mike Krzyzewski could walk into a door and cause a recruit to get weak in the knees and feel honored that Duke would recruit him. Nowadays, it just doesn't work that way.

Duke can no longer afford to just target one primary recruit per scholarship and wait until late in the recruiting process to offer. Tradition and reputation do not carry the weight with top recruits like they once did. Contemporary recruiting demands a constant grind of developing a relationship with prospects and their people and developing that relationship early in the process.

This is why Krzyzewski went to work earlier than usual on his 2010 recruiting and secured three ranked prospects in that class prior to the beginning of their junior seasons. The sting of losing targets like Brandan Wright and Greg Monroe in the past was a lesson for the Duke coaching staff.

I do think Krzyzewski coaching the Olympic team does help Duke's recruiting effort, but let's not get things twisted. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were winners long before they got on a basketball court with Krzyzewski. And with all due respect to Coach K, because he is a great coach, there are a lot of coaches who could win a gold medal with the talent on the USA roster.

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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