Who are the top remaining 2011 recruiting targets for Duke?
What should Syracuse fans expect from its incoming freshman class?
Is the city of Memphis the top producer of basketball talent in the country?
These questions and more are addressed by National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer in this week's mailbag.
Champs chase top talent
Now that Duke has another scholarship available with the departure of Carrick Felix, who appears to be the most likely to fill it in 2011 as of now?
- Tyler from Charleston
With four-star prospects Michael Gbinije and Tyler Adams already in the fold for 2011, Duke is looking to add more high-profile prospects to its 2011 haul.
The top candidate to join the 2011 recruiting class is elite combo guard Austin Rivers. Count him as a heavy Duke lean.
Also in the mix is top 10 prospect Quincy Miller. I get the feeling Kentucky is the unofficial leader, however, at this point, but Duke is a player for Miller.
Athletic post player Amir Williams of Detroit is also a prime recruiting target and does have an offer from Duke.
And combo guard Chasson Randle, who plays for the Chicago based Illinois Wolves, is also involved with Duke. He will stick around after this weekend's Tournament of Champions to unofficially visit Duke.
Holes to fill
With the loss of Wes Johnson, Andy Rautins, and Arinze Onuaku, there will be a lot of pressure on Syracuse's incoming freshman class to perform right away. What can Syracuse fans realistically expect from its freshmen this year?
- Rob from Charlottesville
Reinforcements are on the way in Syracuse's top 10 2010 recruiting class. Five-star post prospect Frabricio de Melo is Syracuse's top recruit and should have an instant impact. At 7-feet, 250-plus pounds, Melo will take up a lot of space in the middle of Syracuse's zone. But he won't just be a defender. Melo has an array of post moves and should provide some scoring for Syracuse. The key for Melo is his conditioning, and it looked good a couple months ago at the McDonald's All-American Game.
Highly ranked four-star combo guard Dion Waiters should have an impact as well. He has a college-ready body and is adept at executing the high ball screen which Syracuse likes to run.
Combo forward C.J. Fair had a strong senior season, and I wouldn't be surprised if he is a valuable contributor by the end of the season.
Center Baye Moussa Kieta is a bit of a project, but he is an adept shot-blocker. This skill alone might get him some minutes as an anchor for Syracuse's zone.
Breaking down Dawson
What are your thoughts on four-star prospect Branden Dawson? Does IU have any chance at landing him?
- Branden from Indianapolis
There might not be a better combo forward rebounder in the class of 2011 than Dawson. He is explosive in traffic and has an insatiable thirst for tracking down the ball.
His competitive zeal and physicality are at the top of the charts, and he will be a force in the college game.
Whether or not he can take his game to the NBA level is still very much a question. At 6 feet 6 he is undersized for his skill set. He has limited shooting range and doesn't handle the ball like you would expect an NBA small forward to handle it.
There is plenty of time for development, however. With his work ethic, Dawson could very well develop the skills he needs to play at that level.
Dawson continues to maintain that Indiana and Purdue are his two top schools, so Indiana certainly has a chance to land him. I would give the unofficial edge to Purdue, though.
I'm not sure if Memphis produces the most basketball talent of any city in the country, but I do know that Memphis is squarely in the discussion for that title. Over the years Memphis has produced great talent, and the current crop of prospects in the city is as impressive as ever.
Certainly a lot of talent comes out of Atlanta, Baltimore/D.C., Houston, Chicago and other cities, but Memphis very well might deserve to be at the top of the list.
Memphis is a recruiting mine for schools in the southeast, and it has become a recruiting destination for every school in the country as well.
Big men tend to come along at a slower pace and have more variations in their game. I was wondering what your thoughts are on Amir Williams. How does he compare to some of his fellow big men and where is his development at this time? Is he better suited to an up-tempo offense?
- David from Stowe
It is definitely true that most big men come around at a slower pace than wings and guards. With that in mind, it is tough to project how good a player like Williams will become.
The great thing about Williams is that he possesses attributes you can't teach. He has length and athleticism which make him one of the better shot blockers and rebounders in the class.
The question right now is what type of offensive player he is going to become?
Right now, Williams is the No. 4-ranked center and No. 39 overall prospect in the 2011 class. I have a feeling his rankings will only improve and that five-star status is a strong possibility.
And as for style of play, an up-tempo style would work in his favor because his athleticism and mobility are two of his best assets.