Friday, February 06, 2009

The Mailbag: Feb. 6

This week’s mailbag covers a number of different questions. We re-examine the April recruiting period, or lack of it. We look at the state’s biggest sleeper. We discuss the top sophomores in the state and other topics in this week’s mailbag.

What are your thoughts on the decision by the NCAA regarding the April evaluation?

I have mixed feelings about it. I like it in the sense that the NCAA wants kids in the classroom on Fridays (imagine that) and I like it in the sense that the NCAA would like the high school coach to have more involvement with a young man’s decision. I think those are two very big positives.

However, I agree with those that argue that the spring being closed is not good for seniors that are still unsigned. The spring is indeed an important time for those that don’t have a place to call home for college at the Division I level. I’ve seen some players use the April period to earn a scholarship offer.

I would hope that seniors take advantage of the next two months in high school and play like they’ve never played before. What a better time to prove your worth as a basketball player than right now? The region tournament, the state tournament and the thought of earning a scholarship should be plenty of motivation to do whatever it takes to earn that oh-so-important offer.

The new rule regarding April is causing confusion for AAU teams across the country. What should we do? That is the question that a lot of programs are asking. My suggestion is this:

1. Stay close to home and save your money. What is the benefit or value of spending the money to travel to Houston or Arkansas or Ohio, etc?

2. If you are a 16 or 15 and under team, there is zero value in traveling in the spring. Most national analysts, myself included, don’t watch too much 16 and 15 and under basketball in the spring. Sure, we’ll catch a handful of games but those age groups are not the priority. Now that the spring is closed, most analysts will be watching the seniors more the usual because there is a major demand of information from the college coaches. And nearly all of the college coaches are concerned about the class of 2010.

3. If you are a team that will still travel and want to play nationally, I’d suggest going to one major event. Think economically and ask the national analysts where they will be at.

July should be very competitive. There is much more on the line. That makes for a great three weeks of basketball. And for that, I’m excited. The game has become so watered down over the last four years. Games in July are worse than root canals. Kids are playing upwards of 100 games by the time August 1 rolls around. Hopefully, that number will be cutback substantially.

I don’t think the high-major kids (aka kids like Derrick Favors, Al-Farouq Aminu, etc.) will have any problems with the rule.

However, the class of 2010 in Georgia doesn’t possess a high number of no-brainer high-major guys. The state does boast a number of good mid-major and low-major players. Those players will need to really perform in July. They will also need to make their first impression the very best impression.

Better fit for UGA - Knight or Anthony Grant? Do you think GA kids would be in favor for playing for Bobby Knight?

I think Anthony Grant is the best candidate of all of the candidates for the Georgia job. I respect what Bob Knight has done in his career. He has forgotten more basketball than I’ll ever learn, more than any of us have ever learned. But, and this is a very strong but, he is not the coach that Georgia needs. I’m not even sure Georgia wants Bob Knight.

Dennis Felton was thought to be a hard coach to play for, according to some players over the years in Athens. If Felton was hard, coach Knight is titanium.

I can’t picture too many kids in the state of Georgia that would want to or could even handle playing for coach Knight.

A young, dynamic coach is the way to go, in my opinion, for the Georgia program. Pumping new blood into the basketball community is the number one thing for instant success and long term competitive player in the SEC.

Knight would only be at Georgia for three years (or so, maybe less) anyways. Athletic Director Damon Evans would be back at square one and would be looking nationwide for a new coach all over again. I’m not sure that is what the school would want to do at this stage of the game.

My endorsement has and always be for Grant. He’s young. He knows the SEC lifestyle. He knows how to recruit nationally. He is well connected in the right places. He has a marketable name within basketball circles.

Justin, who are some of the best sleepers in the state?

That is a good question that warrants it’s own story. There are plenty to discuss. For this question’s sake, I’ll limit it to one player in the class of 2009.

Long County’s Jimmy Bacon is my top sleeper in the state. He’s well known in the coastal region and rightfully so. He is averaging 26.2 points and 13.8 rebounds a game. He is amongst the state leaders in nearly every statistical category. His team is 14-5 and undefeated in 2009.

Bacon is making a very strong case for the AA Player of the Year award and will likely be one of the best junior college players in the country next year.

Is [Raymond Higgs] at Athens Christian that good? Or a product of the level of basketball in that area?

I will find out on Saturday and include him my notes on him in my Notepad column. I’m looking forward to seeing him. I spoke to a college coach this week who stopped by to see him workout and the comment was that he is a high-major athlete with a low-major skill level but a mid-major scorer’s mentality. I’m looking forward to seeing him and his teammates go against Athens Academy and junior Jeremy Burgess.

Justin who are your top 5 players in the state from class of 2011 in order and what star ranking which you give them? 5 star 4 star etc.

Good question. And it is a very tough question to answer. The class of 2011 is shaping up to be a deep class and one that will be recruited quite heavily.

At this point, here are the 10 guys that I have as the top in sophomore class right now:

Kentavious Caldwell, Greenville
Nick Jacobs, South Atlanta
Nick Marshall, Wilcox County
E. Victor Nickerson, Paideia
Dai-Jon Parker, Milton
Ryon Riggins, Wesleyan
Julian Royal, Milton
Shannon Scott, Milton
Nigel Snipes, Paideia
Kevin Ware, Rockdale County

I think each of these kids are either high-major prospects now or will be by the time they are juniors. There are a number of kids that are knocking on the door. But, to date, those are the guys that I have seen or researched enough to put on that top 10 list.

As far as the stars go, I don’t do those. I don’t understand them. I don’t agree with them because truth be told, they don’t mean anything or even hold any value. So what that said, they are all 27 star recruits.

Do you know when the McDonald’s All-American teams will be announced?

Actually, I do. The teams will be announced on Feb. 18 on ESPN. I know that Derrick Favors is in. I don’t, however, know if Mfon Udofia and/or Lorenzo Brown are in the game.

To submit a question for next week's mailbag, click HERE.

Archived mailbags:
Jan. 15
Jan. 22
Jan. 30