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December 17, 2009

Meyer's Mailbag: Can UK land 2011's top three?

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Dec 13: Bruins search for a PG
Dec 3: Mitchell's stock climbing?
Nov 28: UK waits on 2010 prospects
Could Kentucky possibly land the top three prospects in the class of 2011?

Why isn't high-scoring wing J.T. Terrell ranked higher?

Is it an issue that all of Illinois' 2010 and 2011 recruits are from Illinois?

These questions and more are addressed by National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
Targeting the top three

What are the chances of Kentucky getting the top three prospects in the class of 2011?

-- Kenneth from Murray
Actually, the chances are pretty good. Mike Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Quincy Miller all have strong interest in Kentucky.

The quick handicap on Gilchrist has him choosing between Kentucky and Villanova. Certainly other schools are involved, but these two are considered the favorites (Gilchrist was on hand for Kentucky's midnight madness).

Teague was expected to commit to Louisville last spring, but the Cardinals program hit some bumps in the road - and then John Calipari took the Kentucky job. Teague, the top point guard in the 2011 class, has to be interested in running Calipari's "Dribble-drive" offense. Along with Louisville and Kentucky, Indiana and Purdue are hot after their top in-state prospect.

Miller's recruitment appears to be wide open at the moment. Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky and others are pursuing Miller. Playing in the same travel team program that John Wall played in, Miller hasn't hidden his attraction to the Kentucky program. He even took an unofficial visit to Lexington for Kentucky's matchup against North Carolina.


Why isn't J.T. Terrell a top-30 prospect. He showed he can be an elite scorer this summer.

-- Kershaun from Seat Pleasant
Terrell, who is ranked No. 78 in the Rivals150, is definitely one of the top shooters and scorers in the 2010 class. He scored this summer and is also putting up big numbers this season.

However, Terrell is not known for doing much more than scoring. He can be a feast-or-famine type scorer who takes shots in high volume. In fact, I've seen Terrell destroy team chemistry on more than one occasion with his single focus on getting up shots.

Now, there is a lot to be said for a player like Terrell who can create a shot, isn't afraid to take a tough shot and can make both a tough shot and clutch shot. This is a special talent, which is why he is ranked as a four-star prospect.

When Terrell gets to Wake Forest, he will be a valuable asset for the program if he is able to maintain his shot-making ability while playing within the team concept. If he is able to develop other aspects of his game and become more than just a scorer, then we might look back and say that a No. 78 ranking was too low.

Illini stay in state

For the longest time I have been on Bruce Weber for not being able to get big-time recruits into Illinois. Now, however, he has had this class, he has the great class next year, and the year after that is shaping up nicely in my opinion. My only fear is that all the players he's been getting are from the state of Illinois. Should I be concerned now with his lack of ability to recruit outside the state, or am I just nitpicking?

-- John from Chicago
I'll take the opposite viewpoint and argue that it is a great sign for the Illinois basketball program that it is locking up the top in-state talent. Illinois is one of the top states in the country at producing basketball talent.

In the 2010 Rivals150, there are eight prospects from Illinois. In the 2011 Rivals150, there are 11 prospects from Illinois.

In the 2010 class, Illinois has signed the top three in-state prospects. In the 2011 class, Illinois' two commitments are four-star prospects.

I'm not saying that Illinois can annually compete for a Big Ten championship and challenge for Final Four appearances with solely Illinois talent. I am saying, though, that Illinois talent is a great foundation for a championship program. Without that foundation, the Illinois program is doomed.

Big boost

Jerry, If MSU can land Trey Zeigler where will that put coach Tom Izzo's recruiting class? Still excited about this year, but daydreaming about 2010.

-- Jeff from Marion
Trey Zeigler, the No. 26 prospect in the Rivals150, is going to give some school's recruiting class a big boost. He is a total package wing player who will be ready to compete as a freshman.

Michigan State presently sits at No. 6 nationally behind Syracuse in our team recruiting rankings. Add Zeigler to a class of Adreian Payne (No. 20), Keith Appling (No. 34), Russell Byrd (No. 108) and Alex Gauna (No. 149), and Michigan State moves past Syracuse and Tennessee to the No. 4 spot behind Memphis, Ohio State and North Carolina.

Expecting turnover

Coach Travis Ford has a full roster this year with only one senior and one junior (James Anderson who says he is leaving for the NBA after this season), yet he has five signees for next year. How is he going to do this? Just run some kids off?

-- Craig from Stillwater
Obviously, a program does not have to have an available scholarship to sign a prospect. And in some cases, Coaches do run players off. In the vast majority of cases, however, players run themselves off.

Especially in today's contemporary game, there is a high rate of turnover in college basketball programs. At last count there are already 26 Division I transfers in this early season. You can count on that number increasing greatly by the time the next school year arrives.

Today's players typically have very little patience when it comes to playing time. They want to play early, and they want to play a lot. After a year of riding the pine and then seeing that they are clearly being recruited over, they see the writing on the wall and are more than willing to move on to sometimes greener pastures.

Also, academic casualties open up roster spots on both ends of this equation. Players will have to leave school because of inadequate academic performance. Also, recruits will fail to qualify and have to go to junior college or prep school. In fact, Oklahoma State experienced this in its 2009 recruiting class when four-star prospect Karron Johnson failed to qualify.

It isn't necessarily typical to oversign at the level Oklahoma State has in 2010, but oversigning is not uncommon. A coach worth his salt knows the lay of the land with his program, and these situations always seem to work themselves out in the end.

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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