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September 10, 2011

Ask the experts: Stillwater surge

MORE EXPERTS: Sept. 2 | Aug. 26 | Aug. 15 | July 19

Rivals.com basketball recruiting analysts Jerry Meyer and Eric Bossi weigh in on four current topics.

How big of a pickup is Marcus Smart for Oklahoma State?

Bossi: The 6-foot-4 guard from Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus is a monstrous pickup for Travis Ford and his staff. A physical bull of a guard, he's a dribble drive playmaker, terrific rebounder and excellent defender. As much as he brings in terms of basketball skill, it's his intangibles that really set him apart. Smart is maybe the most competitive kid in all of high school basketball, a leader and he simply finds ways to win. It's not tough to envision him becoming the face of Oklahoma State basketball.

Meyer: Getting Marcus Smart would be a huge pickup for any team, but it is an exceptionally huge pick up for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have been a good team but it seems like they have had trouble getting over the hump and winning the big games. Smart is the perfect antidote for that problem. Known for his heart and winning ways, Smart is the type of talent who could galvanize the Oklahoma State program and push it over that hump.

What kind of contribution should Oklahoma State fans expect from Phil Forte?

Bossi: Smart's teammate at Flower Mound and during the summer on the Texas Assault, Forte is one of the nation's best three-point shooters. While he gets listed as a point guard, Forte is much more of a shooting guard and not exactly the biggest guy at about 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-11. I wouldn't expect him to make an instant impact, but I think he's a guy who eventually finds his way onto the floor. If there's anybody who has proven to be a fan of sub-6-foot shooters it's Ford and there's always room in the Cowboys' offense for an undersized shooter.

Meyer: It will be very similar to the role that Keiton Page has played for Oklahoma State. His role will be knocking down deep jumpers. In fact, Forte isn't as quick or good a ballhandler as Page, but he is more of a pure shooter than Page. It wouldn't be unreasonable at all to consider Forte as the best shooter in the 2012 class.

Indiana has been holding onto the top spot in the class of 2012 recruiting rankings for a while. Who is most likely to pass them?

Bossi: If Arizona can land Kaleb Tarczewski then you certainly have to start considering the Wildcats to leapfrog into the top spot because that would give them two five-star big men - Brandon Ashley is already onboard - to go along with high four-star shooting guard Gabe York and top 50 post Grant Jerrett. However, the team that I'm fully expecting to make a run is Kentucky. The Wildcats have been quieter than usual up until this point, but after seeing what John Calipari has done on the recruiting front since arriving in Lexington, it is hard to think those Wildcats won't start making some noise once he gets back from Argentina where he's coaching Dominican Republic national team.

Meyer: Arizona and Providence have a lot of recruiting momentum and are ranked right behind Indiana. Arizona is the best candidate because it is involved with a couple five-star prospects: Kaleb Tarczewski and Danuel House. If Arizona lands one of these prospects, it will move ahead of Indiana's existing class.

Today's players play basketball year-round and spend less time playing other sports. Is that a good or bad thing?

Bossi: Personally, I think it's a bad thing. That is, if the player is interested in playing other sports. I think some of these kids are getting turned into robots with having to play so much and being discouraged to do other sports. If anything, playing another sport gives a top prospect an outlet to do something that comes with a little less pressure to be great but allows them to compete and have fun. Look at Gary Harris and Willie Cauley, who are playing football this year. Sure there's the chance of injury, but this is their last chance to get out and play a sport they love and I'm all for it.

Meyer: It is great to spend a lot of time on your craft, but most of these basketball players are just playing basketball and not really honing their craft. Knowing how to efficiently develop skill level, develop physical strength and play against top competition is the path to maxing out on your ability. But just playing one sport isn't necessarily healthy. I love a prospect who is competing in areas other than basketball. Players can learn aspects of being an athlete in one sport and then carry that over to the basketball court. It also is a good antidote to becoming burned out or too psychologically obsessed with having basketball success.

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