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May 5, 2011

Ask the experts: Final thoughts on 2011

MORE EXPERTS: April 21 | April 5 | March 30 | March 22

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

Now that you've released the final 2011 Rivals rankings, what single thing most stands out about that class?

Bossi: What stands out for me is that it reminds me of the class of 2005. What I mean is that it is a decent class that will produce some good college players and plenty of guys will eventually make the NBA. However, I think that it is a bit down in potential "stars" at either the college or NBA levels.

Meyer: The 2011 class is better than people anticipated it to be. There isn't that surefire superstar in the class, but there is great depth through each of the star rankings. At the bottom of the five-star range are some prospects that could be strong pros. It was difficult to order the four-stars because there is strong parity in how those guys project as college players. And there are about 100 guys who could arguably be ranked as three-star prospects.

Who was the most difficult player to rank in that class and why?

Bossi: For me personally it's Quincy Miller. I like what he brings to the table a lot and think that he's a very versatile four-man on the college level. I also think that he's going to put in the work to add strength and improve on his areas of weakness for college and beyond. Unfortunately, though, he lost his senior season due to an ACL injury and it made it awfully tough to compare him with others, not being able to get a more recent look at him. That entire section of LeBryan Nash, Miller and James McAdoo was really tough to rank.

Meyer: Marquis Teague and LeBryan Nash were tough for me. Both of these prospects have what you look for physically to be a dominant player at their positions. You can easily see them translating to the NBA as a point guard (Teague) and wing player (Nash) with their size, strength, athleticism and skill set. But at the same time there so often seems to be something missing in their game. I never feel that lack of intangibles or competitive greatness in Mike Gilchrist. Teague and Nash are more physically talented than Gilchrist, but you just can't say they are better because of this missing element. I'm really hoping they discover this element within themselves as they progress as players.

What's one thing you've started changing your mind about after the last few weeks of live coverage?

Bossi: When you spend as much time in the gym as we do watching players, you think about a lot of things. How to tweak the evaluation process, which game you need to see next, who you need to interview, who needs a picture on his profile: All questions going through your mind. Bottom line, there's a lot to keep track of. With that in mind, I've realized that multi-court facilities where we can see more kids have become a necessity. However, I've also realized that I much prefer evaluating in a gym where there is only one game that I can actually see on the floor in front of me. The entire setup of the six-, eight- and even 12-court facilities while providing access to lots of kids, also adds significantly to the number of potential distractions. I think being able to focus is important and for that reason I'll be doing my best to stick to single gyms where I can from here on out.

Meyer: I'm starting to think a lot of prospects with heavy hype in the 2012 class aren't as good as a lot of prospects in the class who don't have as much hype. Every year I go through this process, but it seems to really apply to this class. Hopefully our upcoming rankings will fight through the hype machine and give a high-quality perspective on these prospects' true talents.

Blake Griffin easily won the NBA's rookie of the year on Wednesday. What do you remember about him as a high school player?

Bossi: This is pretty funny. I remember seeing him play for the first time with Athlete's First between his sophomore and junior seasons of high school at the Nike Memorial Day Classic in New Orleans. At the time, he was probably only about 6-foot-6 and they were trying to play him as a small forward. I remember thinking that it would never work because it was clear the kid was more suited to play the four. I thought at the time that he would be an upper end mid-major to lower end high-major prospect. By the same time the next year, he'd grown a few inches, was playing pretty much exclusively on the interior and was dunking everything in sight. By the end of his senior year at the 2007 McDonald's All-American game it was clear that he was going to be an NBA player quickly, but nobody could have predicted he would keep developing like he has. An interesting side note, that Athlete's First team from May of 2005 featured current St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford who, of course, was one of five finalists for the NFL's Rookie of the Year this past season.

Meyer: I remember how physically imposing he was. He didn't always assert himself like he does now, but when Griffin wanted to make a play it was going to take an epic effort by someone to prevent him from making that play. The success of Griffin has given me a better appreciation for explosive athleticism and relentless effort. He also taught me that a prospect can learn to play harder.



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