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September 1, 2010

Ask the Experts: Toughest call in 2012 Rivals150?

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

What was the toughest decision to make in your 2012 Rivals150 ranking released Tuesday?

Meyer: Choosing the No. 1-ranked prospect is typically the toughest ranking decision because it is the most important decision. It's hard to feel good about a ranking if you feel like you missed on the top spot. I feel good about Andre Drummond as the No. 1 prospect in 2012. We did, however, closely examine other possibilities. Rivals.com doesn't ever want to go with a conventional pick just because it is safe.

Bossi: That's a tough one because there are always guys that are going to spark a lot of discussion. But, perhaps the most extended debate came in terms of who to put at the top slot between Andre Drummond and Isaiah Austin. That's good, though, a healthy give and take breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each guy as we go along only makes our rankings stronger. In the end, we decided that Drummond was a bit further along and that his physical tools outweighed Austin's upside and lack of strength.

We know UK 's John Calipari will land a ton of stars, but what school has been the biggest overachiever so far in this class?

Meyer: I'm not sure I would exactly use the term overachieving for Syracuse's recruiting class since Syracuse consistently recruits well. But Syracuse has a terrific inside/outside duo leading its recruiting class. Rakeem Christmas, the No. 12-ranked prospect in the Rivals150, is one of the best shot blockers in the class and has a promising offensive game. On the perimeter Michael Carter-Williams (No. 16) is a combo guard with length who has a great feel for the game. Supporting these two is three-star spot up shooter Trevor Cooney.

Bossi: I really like what Mike Rice and his staff have been able to do so far at Rutgers. I think that landing a kid like Kadeem Jack out of NYC sends out a statement that they can compete for high level recruits. The 2011 class is strengthened by the recent addition of Rivals150 point guard Myles Mack to go along with Jack, Malick Kone and Derrick Randall and the Scarlet Knights are already making waves in 2012. I also think that people should keep an eye on Rick Pitino down at Louisville. Despite some pretty negative press in the last year he's already pulled three quality recruits in Wayne Blackshear, Zach Price and Ryan Taylor and he's got them right in the mix with guys like Deuce Bello and Quincy Miller.

Whose decision has surprised you the most so far among the 2011 commitments?

Meyer: I was surprised that four-star point guard Jahii Carson chose Arizona State, especially before the season even started. Carson is a speed burner who is best suited for an up-tempo offense and pressure-defense style of play. In interviews late in the summer, he said he liked his home town school ASU but wanted to watch them play this year to make sure they really were going to implement a faster style of play like Herb Sendek had told him.

Bossi: There's two that surprised me and not as much for who they picked, but when they went down. With Kyle Wiltjer picking Kentucky, it's one that really came out of nowhere. Just a few days prior to his commitment it seemed that he didn't really have any idea of when he was going to make a decision. He only had one visit set and not many had even thought Kentucky was all that serious with him. Then boom, he announces for Kentucky without taking a visit. Next would be Rakeem Christmas to Syracuse. The Orange always looked to be deep into the mix with him, but he was one that we thought would take a bit more time in making his decision so it was a bit surprising when he committed in early August.

Who is the toughest - maybe not the best, but the most hard-nosed player - you saw in person this summer?

Meyer: Class of 2012 prospect Marcus Smart was the toughest prospect I saw this summer. He immediately reminded me of Paul Harris who played at Syracuse. Harris might be the toughest prospect I've ever scouted. Smart is a physically imposing, do-everything guard who absolutely loves contact and thrives on competitive confrontation.

Bossi: This is a really easy answer for me, 2012 wing Marcus Smart from Texas. He's as tough a player as I've ever seen on the high school level. He fights for rebounds, is an intense defender and has a knack for going and making plays when his team needs them the most. As far as I'm concerned, he's the gold standard for toughness in high school basketball.



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