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August 26, 2011

Ask the experts: Breaking down the rankings

MORE EXPERTS: Aug. 15 | July 19 | July 6 | June 22

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

What stood out to you the most in ranking the class of 2012?

Meyer: I was really impressed with the quality of prospects in the upper half of the four-star range. That was the toughest part of the Rivals150 to rank because of the parity of quality prospects in that range. In fact, legitimate arguments could be made that many of those high four-star prospects are on par with some of the bottom five-star prospects. I don't know if 2012 will produce any marquee superstars, but it could produce a high number of NBA players.

Bossi: I believe Jerry touched on this when he wrote about the rankings on Thursday, but the class of 2012 has turned out to be much deeper than initially realized. For the last year, the class has been getting bashed a bit for being poor and I don't think that's fair at this point. The point guard class remains perhaps a little average, but several of those guys have stepped their game up. The stretch of higher ranked four-star players starting with Shaquille Goodwin at No. 27 and ending with Montay Brandon at No. 60 is really strong and is likely to produce several guys who could one day make a pretty good living playing the game of basketball either in the NBA or overseas.

Which five-star, four-star and three-star prospect do you feel may be under ranked?

Meyer: I'd like to think we have everyone properly ranked in the Rivals150, but of course that isn't the case. Nonetheless, answers to questions like this don't become clear until you have the advantage of hindsight. There are prospects, however, who give you a feeling that one day you are going to wish you ranked them higher. In the five-star range, Kris Dunn gives me that feeling. It is a point guard's game right now in the NBA, and Dunn has the tools to be a star at that position. In the four-star range it is Glenn Robinson III. He is blossoming as a player and he comes from a talented lineage. Out of the three-star range, I wouldn't be surprised if Mike Tobey blossoms at Virginia into a player who should have been ranked higher. The Virginia staff is excited about developing him, and he does have potential.

Bossi: In the five-star range, I would make a case for Kaleb Tarczewski or Archie Goodwin. But the guy I would probably settle in on is Indiana wing Gary Harris. When I watch him play, I think of a young Shannon Brown and he's one of those guys I feel is going to make plays wherever he ends up on the floor. In the four-star range, I really like the trio of Omar Calhoun, Willie Cauley and Winston Shepard who check in at No. 39 though No. 41. Calhoun is one of the most lethal scorers in the class while Cauley has as much upside as anybody in the country and Shepard is matchup nightmare who is really starting to find his rhythm. In the three-stars, I'm really focused on the first and last of our ranked three-stars. At No. 106, big man Christopher Obekpa is a physical shot-blocker who can rebound. At No. 150, DeVon Walker is a lengthy wing who can really defend and has the physical tools to explode with just a little more polishing of his skills.

Some have suggested that Shabazz Muhammad is the better short-term prospect while Andre Drummond is the best pro prospect. What do you think of that?

Meyer: Both are great prospects, but I like Muhammad in the short-term and long-term. What he does well at this level, I expect to fully translate to the NBA. He is a natural competitor who is becoming more explosive, has a complete game and can score in a variety of ways. I expect him to be a quality NBA scorer. With Drummond, he isn't going to be a big scorer in the NBA unless he improves his outside shooting. I don't envision him just beasting players down low for big points in the NBA. I do think he will be a high-impact defender and rebounder in a Tyson Chandler-type way. Whether or not Drummond will be a big NBA scorer is a question mark.

Bossi: First, the highest level is the NBA, so I don't know why somebody would rank the guy they see as the best prospect at the ultimate level second. Moving on, I do think that it's a good argument as to which of the two is a better prospect. Drummond has great size, is a freak athlete and can do some really unique things with the ball. On the other hand, Muhammad is a big-time competitor, a workhorse and has consistently gotten better in every phase of his game. The more we thought about, the more Muhammad looks like he's the slightly better prospect regardless of level. If we had given the edge to Drummond, especially long term, then we would have ranked him No. 1.

Recent Providence commit Kris Dunn is one of the most interesting stories in the class of 2012. What's allowed him to go from un-ranked to pushing the national top 10 in a span of five months?

Meyer: Exposure and confidence. We didn't really know about Dunn until he hit the scene at the Real Deal on the Rock in April. As the travel circuit continued, Dunn became more assured of his abilities and more assertive. By the end of July I became convinced he has greatness in him.

Bossi: It's been a combination of several things. First, Dunn got the chance to perform and he did so consistently. But beyond that, he's got a unique blend of size, athleticism, playmaking ability and upside that no other point guard in the class of 2012 has, at least not in my mind. He looks better every time out, isn't afraid to try and make a play and has plenty of room to expand his game as he gets more polished. I love big, athletic, versatile point guards and Dunn certainly fits that mold. What a terrific pickup for Providence.

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