February 13, 2009

Meyer's Mailbag: Duke closing in on big commit?

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Feb 6: Stephenson, Cousins still looking
Jan 30: Five-star possibilities
Jan 23: Rankings climb for Tech
Despite Wednesday night's loss to North Carolina, Duke fans are in a frenzy about elite 2010 prospect Harrison Barnes sitting behind the bench in a Duke T-shirt. Is it just a matter of time before Barnes commits to Duke?

Is Peyton Siva the answer to Louisville's backcourt problems?

These questions and more are addressed in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
Barnes bound for Duke?

I'm sure your getting tons of questions on Harrison Barnes, but what's the latest? He looked good in the Duke T-shirt and the Blue Devils could have used him on the floor in the second half.

-- Matt from New Jersey
Barnes is quite a hot topic right now in the recruiting world. Barnes, from Ames, Iowa, traveled to Durham for his second unofficial visit and sat behind the bench in a Duke T-shirt. It was thought that Barnes would have a drawn-out recruitment. But things appear to be loosening up and momentum seems to be building toward what could be an earlier-than-expected commitment to Duke.

Barnes might wait things out and visit other schools. Duke might not be the school after all. When asked by Rivals.com on Thursday if a commitment was imminent, Barnes said a commitment wouldn't happen anytime soon and that his focus is on getting a state-title ring.

Whether a commitment is sooner or later, odds seem awful strong right now that Barnes one day will wear more than just a Duke T-shirt.

Problems at the point

Do you think Peyton Siva will be the end of Louisville's problems at point guard?

-- Rob from Louisville, Ky.
It probably isn't a good sign for a team's point guards if two forwards lead a team in assists, and that is the case for Louisville with Terrence Williams and Earl Clark. Guard Edgar Sosa is third on the team in assists, but Louisville's guards are more in the mold of shooting guards than point guards. Alas, none of the guards average in double figures, either, with Sosa and Jerry Smith being the high scorers at 7.5 points per game.

Siva, from Seattle, basically is cut from the same mold as Louisville's current guards. What Siva does best is use his athleticism to score, both at the rim in transition and from behind the arc.

Siva is a quality player who will improve Louisville's dismal 29.6 percent 3-point shooting. But Siva might not be the point guard Louisville fans are hungry to have on the roster.

Next step for LSU

What prospects will LSU be bringing in this next year, and how is the recruitment of Renardo Sidney going?

-- Robert from Shreveport, La.
Coming off a huge double-overtime win at Mississippi State, LSU is 20-4 overall and owns a two-game lead in the SEC West. Trent Johnson once again is proving his prowess as a coach, and what ultimately will determine the success of the Tigers' program is how well Johnson and his staff can recruit in the Southeast.

In his first go-round recruiting for LSU, Johnson went to the West Coast for four-star prospect Aaron Dotson and mined his own backyard for three-star prospect Eddie Ludwig. Dotson, from Seattle, is a strong-bodied shooting guard with a solid all-around game. At one time, he appeared destined for Louisville, but Johnson was able to lure him down to the bayou. Ludwig, from the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, is a skilled 6-foot-8 power forward who wasn't a high-profile recruit. But his high basketball IQ should help him flourish in Johnson's system.

This 2009 class isn't an overly impressive class, but if Johnson is able to keep the best of Louisiana at home and also recruit nationally, he should bring in the caliber of players he needs to stay atop the SEC West.

As for Sidney, LSU has taken a stab at trying to land the top-10 prospect. But Sidney, a Mississippi native who goes to high school in Los Angeles, doesn't have LSU on his latest list of schools, which includes UCLA, USC, UNLV, Mississippi State and Texas. If Sidney gets a qualifying ACT or SAT score this spring, look for him to go to either UCLA or USC.

Bad rule?

With the new recruiting rules regarding the live evaluation period, will the three-star and two-star athletes suffer or flourish? Or is it bad for everyone?

-- Christopher from Chicago
It's bad for everyone, and I just don't get the logic behind eliminating the weekend evaluation periods in April. You will see more "chances" being taken by coaching staffs who recruit prospects without enough proper evaluation. You then will see more transfers by players.

Sure, coaches can travel to high schools and watch open gyms (if an open gym is possible at the particular high school), but how good an evaluation can you get watching a Division I prospect play against teammates who are, more than likely, much less talented.

Maybe the big-budget schools are the winners because they can afford to jump around the country from high school to high school to see prospects in April.

Instead of taking power away from travel-team coaches, it gives them more power by putting college coaches in a position to have to rely on the hype instead of being able to evaluate them on their own.

Senior prospects who haven't yet signed basically are completely left in the cold with no chance to attract a scholarship. Under-the-radar prospects won't have the chance to prove their worth by playing against known prospects in front of college coaches.

And I don't buy the argument that it is best for the players academically. When these players get in college, they will be traveling all over the place during the school year. Do you really think a player who is at-risk academically and plays in a tournament when he shouldn't because coaches are there to evaluate now will stay at home and study just because college coaches aren't there? The same events that took place in April when coaches could come out are still taking place now that coaches can't come out.

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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