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June 9, 2011

Ask the experts: Position still lacks depth

MORE EXPERTS: June 1 | May 25 | May 18 | May 11

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

Headed into the spring travel circuit there was concern about the lack of point guard depth in the class of 2012. With July rapidly approaching, has that perception changed at all?

Bossi: For me, the point guard position is still a major concern. Other than a few guys - notably Kris Dunn and Dominic Artis - there haven't been many guys who have come from off the radar and established themselves has potentially high-level point guard prospects. For the most part, the guys who make up the list of the best available point guards are the same guys that we've known about for a year or two now. That's great that those guys have lived up to expectations, but it's not good for college programs looking for floor generals because there's just not much depth at that position. Further, at this early stage, it's looking like 2013's class of point guards could be very similar in terms of not having much depth.

Meyer: No one has come out of the woodwork to emerge as an elite point guard. But outside the top three or so point guards, there is a growing perception in me that the rest of the ranked point guards could be radically rearranged and the order of the point guards in the class might be more accurate than they are now. There is the concern that a lot of point guards are ranked ahead of other point guards because of their preceding reputation. There are point guards further down the list such as Kris Dunn, Tyler Lewis, Mike Gesell and Dominic Artis who have been impressive lately.

The video/mixtape crews have now become a fixture at events. Is there any concern that their presence is beginning to impact the way players conduct themselves on the floor?

Bossi: This is something that has been discussed quite a bit at events this spring. There have been instances of kids picking up technical fouls for walking over and saying stuff to the cameras after plays. Some have also complained about seeing camera guys running to chest bump, dap up or shout out instructions to players during games. While these are isolated incidents, they do have a negative impact on the way some perceive the mixtape phenomenon, culture or whatever you want to call it. Over the years I've become friends with many mixtape guys and I admire their grinder's mentality and enjoy watching the increasingly slick and entertaining videos they put together. But I've also seen an increasing amount of inappropriate behavior from guys who are there as credentialed media. Remember, credentialed media is supposed to cover the action, not insert itself into the action.

Meyer: It has been impacting the way players act and this spring it has become glaringly obvious that it is having a negative impact on the game. It is disheartening enough to know that prospects are playing more for their ranking and for the coaches than to win the game. Now we have prospects constantly aware of the cameras and are playing to impress video guys who have attached themselves as ad hoc publicists. It seems to be the next step in the denigration of American basketball.

This weekend USA Basketball is holding tryouts for its 16-and-under team. Other than giving players a chance to play for their country, what sets USA Basketball apart from other events?

Bossi: It's been a few years since I've had the good fortune to attend a USA Basketball event, but they are the best. Everything is on time, the kids who are supposed to be there show up and the level of play is always high. What I love most about the USA workouts is that they find a very nice blend of scrimmaging and skill development. I feel like everybody involved - the kids, scouts, coaches - all walk away having learned something. I can't say that's always the case at other events.

Meyer: It all hinges on the fact that these players are competing for a chance to represent their country. Players have much less influence on them to play for themselves and become more absorbed in the idea of playing for something bigger. The players who stay obsessed with themselves inevitably stick out like a sore thumb at USA events. From a scouting perspective, you learn a lot about the make-up of the prospects and are able to watch them play in a structured environment that more accurately represents what it will be like when they play in college, international and NBA levels.

How important is it that the NCAA give coaches back the opportunity to evaluate players with their grassroots teams during the spring?

Bossi: It's perhaps the single most important thing that needs to be addressed. Each week I cover events and each week I get feedback from kids and coaches regarding offers they received from schools. Clearly, these offers aren't coming from what schools have seen but from what they have heard, read or watched on YouTube highlight reels. Is it any wonder that as these types of offers have increased, so have transfers? I'd love to see college programs get three weekends in the spring - I'd even settle for two - to evaluate prospects at grassroots events. I know that the elimination of evaluations at spring grassroots events was well-intentioned, but it looks to have been a major fail at this point. Kids are still missing lots of school to attend events, the middle man has not been eliminated and schools are giving out offers to guys that they didn't see.

Meyer: It is really important. It is difficult to get an accurate evaluation on a prospect in some type of open gym situation at his high school. Plus the scope of players who can be evaluated is significantly limited. Coaches have to blindly prioritize targets and then watch them in not so competitive situations in the spring. The irony is that the NCAA is empowering the people it is supposedly trying to de-empower. Coaches have to lean more on the opinions and agendas of third person parties to figure out whom to recruit rather than doing it with their own eyes.



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