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June 22, 2011
Ask the experts: Best state battles
Rivals.com basketball recruiting analysts Jerry Meyer and Eric Bossi weigh in on four current topics.
The battle for the top player in Wisconsin was mentioned in a story earlier this week. What's another state with an intriguing, tight competition for its top spot?
Bossi: It probably has to be in the state of Indiana. Top-five Mitch McGary is away at a prep school in New Hampshire, but he's a native of the state and one of several who are highly ranked. After him, Hanner Perea, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (who is leaving the state for his senior year), Gary Harris and Kevin Ferrell are all ranked among the nation's top 28 rising seniors. Right now, I'd personally give the edge to "Yogi" Ferrell out of that group. With his quickness, playmaking and ability to score at the point, I think he brings the most to the table of that group.
Down in Texas, I also think that the gap between five-star Cameron Ridley and high four-star Shaquille Cleare is narrowing a bit. Finally, in Georgia I think that things are much closer between Shaquille Goodwin, Robert Carter and Tony Parker. I see Parker gaining steam in that in-state race.
Meyer: I see a major battle brewing between Justin Jackson and Emmanuel Mudiay for the top spot in Texas in the 2014 class. In fact this battle might very well be a battle for the top spot nationally in the 2014 class. Most recently Jackson made the USA 16-U national team and Mudiay was a standout at the Nike Top 100 Underclassmen Camp.
July is just around the corner - what is the best event during that busy month in recruiting?
Bossi: Even though I won't get to cover it this year, I think one could argue that the adidas Invitational held in Indianapolis at the beginning of the evaluation period may be the best. Whereas Nike has already had all of its top teams together at three sessions of the EYBL, adidas is yet to have all of its flagship programs in one place for one event. That combined with relatively little competition those first few days of July makes the adidas Invitational a good choice.
Meyer: The Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., is always a great event as the culmination of the Nike EYBL. But I'm most looking forward to the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis. The majority of the elite prospects in the 2012 class are not in the EYBL and will be playing at the adidas event. Last year the event was well-organized and had a lot of top flight games going on in a centrally located area.
Are there any new coaching staffs hired after last season that have created a buzz among prospects?
Bossi: Time will tell how much they continue to capitalize, but it sure seems as if Frank Haith and his staff at Missouri have been coming up a lot. They Tigers already landed key transfers from Auburn's Earnest Ross, Pepperdine's Keion Bell and Louisville's George Goode, who will have immediate eligibility. Additionally they've landed three-star juco Quantel Denson for 2012 and four-star Ishmail Wainright along with three-star Tyrek Coger in 2013. Beyond that, the Tigers have been getting visits from five-star Rodney Purvis and four-stars Anton Gill, Greg McClinton, Malcolm Hill and Rivals150 ranked rising seniors Steve Taylor and Shawn Smith. Bottom line, there's been a flurry of activity in Columbia since Haith's arrival and Missouri has been getting mentioned quite a bit.
Meyer: I'm very interested to see what Dave Rice can accomplish on the recruiting front at UNLV. He is bringing an up-tempo style of play to the program, the city is filled with top prospects at Findlay Prep and Bishop Gorman along with other local schools, and his brother Grant Rice is the head coach at Bishop Gorman. The Findlay Prep prospects will give UNLV a close look and the Bishop Gorman prospects will definitely look closely at playing for their high school coach's brother in college. There is a growing sentiment that UNLV will be there until the bitter end in the battle for Shabazz Muhammad, who might just be the top prospect in the class of 2012.
Who has had the best dunk of the spring/summer travel circuit so far?
Bossi: I don't know that there is really any one particular dunk that has stood out to me. It gets tough to remember singular slams - unless they are truly special - after seeing so many of them. However, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett and Ricardo Gathers have turned into guys that are always going to throw down. What separates them is that not only do they get lift, but they have the power to dunk through contact and seem to enjoy rising up for slams out of a crowd. So rather than just one moment from those guys, it's been a body of work.
Meyer: I don't know if it was the best dunk I've seen this spring/summer, but it was the most recent one that caught my attention. Auburn commitment Jordan Price, who has been on a scoring roll this travel circuit, proved he can do more than knock down jumpers at the NBPA Top 100 Camp when he threw down an impressive driving dunk on the athletic Danuel House.