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October 23, 2009

Meyer's Mailbag: Duke class could be great

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Oct 16: Knight behind previous No. 1s
Oct 9: Competition for top 2010 class
Oct 2: Who's getting the better PG?
So where does Duke's recruiting class rank now that it includes top-10 prospect Kyrie Irving? And what if Harrison Barnes joins the party?

Could Tennessee pull off a power forward double play and land Tobias Harris and Jayvaughn Pinkston?

And Rivals.com had former Syracuse and current Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jonny Flynn as a five-star prospect, but was he a high enough five-star prospect?

National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer answers these questions and more in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
Duke's next move

Where would this Duke recruiting class rank if they get Harrison Barnes? What about if they were able to land Barnes and Roscoe Smith?

-- Russell from Charlotte
As the rankings stand at this moment, a Duke recruiting class with Barnes would rank No. 2 nationally. Add Smith to the class, and Duke would surpass Ohio State for the No. 1 recruiting class in 2010. Duke would have two top-10 prospects, two more prospects ranked in the top 50 and a ranked three-star prospect.

As Duke's class stands right now without Barnes or Smith, it is the No. 5 ranked class between North Carolina State (No. 4) and North Carolina (No. 6). The entrance of Duke in the national recruiting rankings would give the ACC an impressive seven teams in the top 25 with six of those teams being in the top 10 and all seven teams in the top 13.

As for the chances of Smith signing with Duke, I don't see Duke getting both Barnes and Smith. Barnes and Smith could play together, but they are both primarily three men. I think the odds are better that Duke lands Barnes than Duke lands Smith.

Smith is down to Connecticut, Duke and Georgetown. He has officially visited Connecticut and Georgetown and unofficially visited Duke. Whether or not he takes an official visit to Duke is up in the air according to his father Brian Thompson.

Who would rank higher?

I was wanting to know who would be ranked higher out of high school- Samardo Samuels or Demarcus Cousins?

-- JR from Owensboro
Cousins gets the edge on this one. He is bigger and more talented than Samuels and projects as a better prospect. Samuels, however, gets the edge for playing with more consistent effort. At times Cousins will take a break from defending and rebounding, but his offensive skill set is about as good as it gets for a player his size.

The word out of Kentucky, however, is that Cousins is in the best shape of his life and is mentally focused on the task at hand. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain this focus and emotional balance under the glaring pressure of playing for Kentucky this year. I imagine we will see some great games as well as some very poor games from Cousins, especially early on.

It will be important for Kentucky's postseason aspirations that Cousins becomes a reliable high-level performer down the stretch of the season.

New York to Knoxville?

What do you think Tennessee's chances are at landing Tobias Harris and Jayvaughn Pinkston? Where would these two commitments put their recruiting class?

-- Hunter from Knoxville
I wouldn't be surprised if Tennessee landed both Harris and Pinkston. Certainly the competition is thick for Harris, but Tennessee is in a strong position in that race. With Pinkston, Tennessee just might be the leader in a mix with Villanova and St. John's.

The word is that both these New Yorkers are communicating with each other and the possibility of playing together an attractive scenario.

If Tennessee were to pull off a double play, the Volunteers would be right there with cross-state rival Memphis for the No. 2 spot in the current rankings. I know Coach Bruce Pearl says Memphis isn't a rival because both schools aren't in the same conference, but I don't know how he could deny that the two schools are vicious recruiting rivals.

Memphis' class is attractive because of the elite backcourt of Joe Jackson and Will Barton. At this point, though, the class lacks a big man, and this hypothetical Tennessee class has better balance. It would have an elite power forward in Harris and a rugged and solid four-star prospect in Pinkston to go along with a top-60 combo guard in Trae Golden and a skilled top-50 wing player in Jordan McRae.

I might not even have to make this call because it is far from a sure thing that Tennessee lands both Harris and Pinkston. In fact, Tennessee could easily come up empty on both prospects. Nonetheless, I probably would give this hypothetical Tennessee class the edge over Memphis, at least the way I see it now.

Too low?

Looking back at the rankings, was Jonny Flynn ranked too low?

-- Kevin from Niagara Falls
Flynn was definitely under-ranked in the class of 2007 as an overall prospect at No. 22. Looking back at the list, he should have been a top-10 prospect.

His position ranking as the No. 4-ranked point guard in that class is pretty accurate, however. I don't think you rank him ahead of Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo. In hindsight, though, he should be ahead of Nick Calathes, whom we ranked the No. 3 point guard.

If I could re-rank Flynn, I'd have him No. 8 overall behind Michael Beasley, Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, Kevin Love, James Harden and Blake Griffin (not necessarily in that order).

Top 10 to stay?

Do you think Kentucky fans should be concerned with only having one commitment so far for the 2010 class due to the fact that Wall, Cousins and Patterson will be gone?

-- Brad from Dayton
Every coach and fan is naturally concerned until prospects are committed, and even better, signed. There is no solace coming in second in a recruiting race, regardless of how many second place finishes a team has with top prospects.

Kentucky, however, isn't the only high-profile team low on commitments at this point. Add Kansas, Texas, Louisville, UCLA and others to this list.

The positive thing for Kentucky is that they are in the thick of the hunt with at least seven five-star prospects. Odds are good that Kentucky lands two or three of these recruits.

Jerry Meyer is a national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. Click here to send him a question or comment for his mailbag.

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