Good afternoon hoop fans! Today is the final day of the late recruiting period. Make sure you check back with ESPN.com for all you recruiting needs. We got a lot to get to so let's get going!
If UK can get Meeks back, how far can UK honestly go? Immediate Final Four team? National Champion front-runner?
Will, with Meeks coming back all the pieces will be there to make a deep NCAA run. How far? Who knows. Chemistry and cohesiveness play a huge role but the talent is certainly there. And with Coach Cal calling the shots I'd be real excited right now.
I know this is probably going to be asked a lot today. But, coming from a life long Kentucky fan, do you feel that Kentucky will be the favorite going into next season?
Thanks, Gavin. I absolutely think that UK will be one of the favorites to win the SEC, along with Tennessee, Mississippi State and Florida.
Young players take time to adjust to the style and atmosphere of collegiate basketball. How important is it to have Jodie Meeks return to kentucky to provide a second leader and help players adjust? And do you think Coach Cal can keep all of these big recruits happy with playing time?
Hi John. Having Jodie Meeks come back to set the tone and be a leader is invaluable for a coaching staff. Similar to what Chauncey Billups has done for the Nuggets this season. And, yes, I think coach Cal can keep these kids happy because they're all playing for the same goal: a national championship. There will be enough playing time for everyone.
Where do you see UK in the mix with or without Meeks back?
James, obviously I see UK being a title contender with Meeks. Without his veteran leadership and scoring it would be much tougher. But, they would still be a favorite both in the conference and nationally.
With Vander Blue opening up his recruitment yesterday, What are the chances Buzz Williams can go into Madison and snag him?
Alex, I think Buzz and Marquette will have a great chance. Also look out for Notre Dame, Minnesota and other Big East and Big Ten schools.
A&Ms class seems to be full of some highly underrated players this year. What are your thoughts?
Hi Ryan. I really like A&M's class and the job Mark Sturgeon and his staff are doing. They do have some underrated kids coming in. Khris Middleton was a kid who was probably overlooked by many and should have a fantastic career. He's a SF who can shoot, drive and rebound.
What are your thoughts on Texas A&Ms recruiting class this year? Do you think any of them can contribute much as true freshman?
More A&M love! I also really like Naji Hibbert.
Paul, what do you think of Arizona's recruiting class? and what about if they land Lance Stephenson? AND...WILL they land him?? thanks!
Sean Miller has done an excellent job in such a short time. Arizona needed an infusion of talent and depth as they struck out during the early period. Very impressive job landing three ESPNU 100 kids. If they add Lance it'll give them that much more firepower next season. Although, the only person who seems to know what Lance will do is Lance.
Is louisville getting any closer to replacing jeremy tyler? heard melo josh smith are candidates, thanks
Hi Brett. With Tyler off the board the Cardinals will be looking at Fab Melo, Josh Smith and Adreian Payne. Coach Pitino has plenty of time to find someone.
How would you rank the top 5 incoming athletes? And the top three classes?
The top 5 incoming athletes are John Wall, John Henson, Derrick Favors, Kenny Boynton and Avery Bradley. We just released our Top 25 classes today and the first 3 are Kentucky, North Carolina and Villanova.
Hi Paul, where do you think Harrison Barnes will end up. Thanks
Thanks Brendan. First of all, Barnes is a very special player. He's a perimeter player with all the instincts and tools and athletic ability to be a shooting guard or small forward. His mid-range game, 3-point shot and ability to get to the rim is outstanding. He's looking at Duke, Kansas, Florida, Iowa State, Kentucky, UNC, Minnesota, Stanford, Oklahoma and UCLA. He'll probably narrow it down after the July evaluation period.
Marquette's class has received a good amount of attention. How good is it?
Dave, I really like Marquette's class. In our final Top 25 classes, they check in at No. 14. Buzz Williams and his staff had a lot to replace and they did a terrific job. Junior Cadougan leads this class along with Jeronne Maymon.
After losing out on Wall, how important is it now for Coach K to land Knight or Irving in 2010?
Thanks Doug. Obviously, them not landing Wall puts more of a premium on getting a high powered PG in 2010. Knight certainly sticks out with Irving, Joe Jackson, Ray McCallum, Cory Joseph and Phil Presey who are also among the elite lead guards in the class. Look for Duke to come up big at that position in 2010.
Thanks Paul....doesnt Lance have to make a decision by today?
Good question. No, he doesn't have to make one by today. Today's only the last day to sign a letter of intent, which is binding. After today he can make a verbal commitment and sign scholarship papers but it would not be binding. He would be free to change his mind.
How is Beilein doing with Michigan's 2010 class? Is there NCAA tournament success last season going to help their recruiting?
Jamie, in 2010 they have an early verbal from Evan Smotrycz. He's a super skilled power forward. He has NBA range and has the ability to make plays off the dribble. He's also a smart passer. Yes, John Beilein will take their success last year and use it as a recruiting tool. I also like the class they have coming in this fall.
Hi Paul- Why do you think Gary Williams is in contention but loses a lot of marquee recruits in the end (i.e., DeShawn Painter and soon-to-be Lance Stephenson)?
I think that idea gets blown out of proportion. He recruits his own way. They have two talented forwards coming in in Padgett and Williams. If you also look at 2010's Terrence Jones, he's a really elite player. Gary is one of the best college basketball coaches who continues to win and produce. What you need to look at is what he's done with who he's had. Let's not forget the National Title in 2002.
Paul, how's Villanova looking for 2010? I know 2009 has been amazing, but I'm wondering if we'll be able to get top 5 recruiting classes every year, a la North Carolina.
Thanks Phil. In 2010 the Wildcats have a couple of strong early commitments. James Bell is an unbelievable athlete with quickness. He's very strong and will be a mismatch nightmare for Big East opponents with his ability to shoot the ball or take his defender off the dribble. Markus Kennedy has great potential at the power forward spot. He's a wide body with good hands and foot work and can score though contact at the rim. It's difficult to continually get top 5 classes just because of scholarship limits. But Coach Wright has done a tremendous job recruiting since the day he arrived and I expect he'll continue to do so.
What mid range player (Say in the 30-70 range), do you think has a chance to make an impact above their rank and make a freshman all american team.
Steve, that's an excellent question. Some kids that come to mind are C.J. Harris who'll be at Wake, Joey Brooks at ND, Scott Wood at NC State, Sam Dower at Gonzaga, Carlos Lopez going to UNLV, Darius Theus to VCU and Keith Clanton at Central Florida are all ranked in the mid-major category and have a chance to be some of the best freshman in their leagues.
Paul, does Purdue have anybody coming in that could help them out? We'll have a great junior class next year, but we just lacked that star potential.
Phil, although they have no 2009 superstars they have a bunch of very good players. Matt Painter recruits good players and gives them a chance to play as freshman and develop. Their 2010 class is one of the best in the Big Ten, led by PF Travis Carroll.
everyone knows how great Coach Cal's first recruiting class is. Can he continue to bring in top notch players by the bunches?
Brian, he will always bring in guys that will help win the SEC and make deep tourney runs. It's tough, though, to continually land superstars every year. It's a minor miracle what he's done already. He will still recruit players that need development.
Where do Kyrie Irving and Dominique Ferguson end up? I saw them both play and was especially impressed with Irving.
Hi Mark. Irving has continued to impress all spring long. We saw him play last summer and ranked him as one of the top players in his class. As far as recruiting goes he'll have his choice. Kentucky, Indiana, Duke, Florida, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, Texas A&M are all players. Ferguson has Lousiville, Kentucky, Arizona, Purdue, Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana, Duke, DePaul and Villanova. Stay tuned.
I was surprised about how good Avery Bradley turned out to be. What kinda impact can we expect from him and Jordan Hamilton when they suit up for the Long Horns?
Anthony, I think you'll see an immediate impact. Bradley took a while to develop through hard work at both ends of the floor. He'll bring skill, athleticism and toughness to Austin. Hamilton has a chance to be special as well. Both guys have the talent, skill and great size for their positions. Coach Barnes will do a great job enhancing thier perimeter games, helping them become complete players. He's had that kind of success everywhere he's been.
Do you think Billy G will get a coaching job this year?
Absolutely. Look at his body of work. Just because one situation didn't work out the way everyone wanted it to doesn't mean he won't resurface. The next school to get him will be very fortunate.
Paul - what is it that Calipari does to entice these recruits to play for him? He has never coached a National Champion and his ability to produce NBA "superstars" is grossly over-rated (Dajuan Wagner = BUST, Marcus Camby = NBA Role Player). And yet a kid like John Wall LOVES him and elects to play far from home and his sick mother when two far better teams, programs, and coaches are right in his back yard. I just don't get it. What gives?
Tim, after being in the college game for a long time I can tell you Coach Cal is an outstanding coach and recruiter. As far as Wall goes, just look at the success he had with Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans at a place (Memphis) that wasn't high profile before he got there. Now you have a chance to be the point guard for the preeminent team in the country. He's won many conference championships and been to the final four twice. It think the decision for Wall was easy, although he couldn't go wrong with any choice he made.
Thanks for all the great questions. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. Here at Scouts, Inc. we'll be covering the Bob Gibbons tournament in N.C., the Nike Memorial Day Tournament in Georgia and the Hax Memorial Day tourney in California. We will continue to bring you the best information in recruiting. Thanks!