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October 9, 2009

Meyer's Mailbag: Competition for top 2010 class

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Oct 2: Who's getting the better PG?
Sept 25: Poole a big get for UK?
Sept 18: Will Cavs win under Bennett?
Is Memphis on the way to surpassing Ohio State for the No. 1 spot in the 2010 team recruiting rankings?

Should Texas A&M have a spot in the 2010 team recruiting rankings?

And what is the latest with Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones, two Oklahoma recruiting targets?

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

Jerry's Mailbag
New No. 1?

How will Memphis' recruiting class stack up with Ohio State's if the Tigers add Tarik Black, who would provide some balance to the guard-heavy class?

-- Justin from Memphis, Tenn.
Adding Black would put Memphis neck and neck with Ohio State. When comparing the two classes the differentiating element is whether you value dynamic playmaking guard play or dominant scoring big men.

Memphis, by far, has the best backcourt committed in the 2010 class. Will Barton and Joe Jackson are elite players who will be able to dominate games together. Then throw in a marksman like Chris Crawford, and Memphis has a threesome that will be extremely difficult to defend. Expect all three to log major minutes on the court together.

Black isn't a scorer like Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State, but he has a high motor and is an excellent offensive rebounder. Defensively, he can guard the four and the five and is a top-notch shot blocker.

Ohio State's class begins with Sullinger and Thomas. Both are prolific scorers who can punish defenders with their physical play. Sullinger is a consistent producer in the post (in the mold of a Kevin Love or Tyler Hansbrough) who always brings a physical competitive edge to the court. Thomas sometimes falls in love with the 3-point shot, but he is at his best when he is in the high post or low post executing the high-low game, which I'm sure we will see a lot of with him and Sullinger at Ohio State.

The Buckeyes also have quality perimeter players in the class with Jordan Sibert, Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr., but they are far from being dominant players like Barton and Jackson.

So again, if you value guard play, Memphis' hypothetical class with Black gets the edge. If you value dominant interior players, then Ohio State is your class.

Add Black and top-10 prospect Jelan Kendrick to Memphis' class and there is no discussion regarding the top class in the country.

Help on the way for UCLA?

If UCLA were to pick up commitments from Trey Zeigler, Josh Smith and Ray McCallum, along with prior commit Tyler Lamb, where would that put the Bruins in the rankings? What is the likelihood that this will happen?

-- Kevin from Montebello, Calif.
As the rankings stand at the moment, this hypothetical class would be in a fight with Memphis for the No. 2 spot in the rankings.

Smith, a five-star center, would give UCLA a dominant presence inside (the Memphis class is currently without any big men at all). Zeigler, Lamb and McCallum are all quality perimeter players who could play at the same time. They just don't have the star power that elite guards Will Barton and Joe Jackson of the Memphis class have.

This hypothetical UCLA class is a realistic possibility. Most consider the Bruins as the likely destination for Smith. Zeigler and McCallum are a more difficult call with both players being from Michigan and their dads both coaching at the mid-major level, but UCLA has a realistic chance at landing them. Just this past weekend UCLA hosted all four of these prospects on official visits.

Caracter resurfaces

Whatever happened to Derrick Caracter?

-- Sal from Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Caracter - the post prodigy who burst onto the national scene before he was even in high school, the man child who outplayed Greg Oden at the ABCD camp, the troubled Louisville player who didn't last under Rick Pitino - is now on the roster at UTEP.

He enrolled last January at the school and is expected to become eligible for the Miners after the first semester this year. UTEP coach Tony Barbee recruited Caracter as an assistant at Memphis and decided to give the 6-foot-9, 275-pound post prospect another shot at the college game.

Not quite top 20

Why hasn't Texas A&M hit the top 20 in the recruiting rankings? I mean, Daniel Alexander, Tobi Oyedeji and now Keith Davis (who should be another four-star recruit) are all on board.

-- Luis from El Paso, Texas
This Texas A&M class falls just outside the top 20. Mark Turgeon has picked up three quality big men. Oyedeji is an active big man who has a developing skill game with a dose of athleticism. Alexander is a face-up four man who can stretch the defense with his shooting ability. And Davis is an athletic post player who probably is underrated at this time.

Nonetheless, I still give Georgetown's two-man class, which is No. 20 at the moment, the edge over Texas A&M's class. Georgetown has a post player in Nate Lubick, who is ranked No. 48, and a point guard in Markel Starks, who is ranked No. 74.

Texas A&M's highest-ranked recruit is Oyedeji at No. 82. The class doesn't have a perimeter player, and neither of these three 4/5 men are dominant scorers.

Now if Texas A&M can land a quality guard, its class starts to look a whole lot better. The Aggies are in the hunt for elite guard Kyrie Irving, who is officially visiting the campus this weekend, but most would consider this one to be an uphill battle for Texas A&M.

Five-star Sooners?

Please break down the recruitment of Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones, and where do the Sooners stand in the running to land these two five-stars?

-- Jeff from Oklahoma
Coach Jeff Capel has certainly elevated the Oklahoma program and has the Sooners in the mix with some of the top prospects in the country. Two of those prospects are Lamb and Jones.

Lamb, the No. 21-ranked prospect in the Rivals150, visited Oklahoma last weekend. Arizona, Kansas and Kentucky are also in the mix. Most would consider Oklahoma in good position with Lamb but facing stiff competition from Kansas, which he will visit for midnight madness, and Arizona. Kentucky is also in the mix, and Lamb is expected to visit both Arizona and Kentucky.

Jones, the No. 13-ranked prospect in the Rivals150, travels to Oklahoma for a visit this weekend. It is the first official visit out of the seven schools that he intends to visit before the early signing period. Jones is also involved with Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Oregon, UCLA and Washington. It is difficult to get a gauge on how the schools stack up with Jones, but Oklahoma has a chance to jump ahead of the field by being the first school to host him.

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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