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February 11, 2011

Meyer's mailbag: Illini's future

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
Feb 4: Chol and the Pac-10
Jan 28: Skinny on Davis
Jan 23: Rivers safe at No. 1?

Got a question? Click here to send it to Meyer's Mailbag

What holes will Illinois' incoming freshmen need to fill next year?

Is Arizona on its way to becoming a Pac-10 power again?

And does the departure of Larry Drew affect North Carolina's approach to recruiting?

These questions and more are addressed by National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer in this week's mailbag.


Young and talented Illini

In your opinion, with all of Illinois' young players already on the team, will the 2011 class have player that will make an impact next year? I have watched Devin Langford play for three years. The sky is the limit for this kid. He is a good scorer when he needs to be, but a great passer and shot blocker

- Greg from Decatur

Illinois will certainly need some of the freshmen out of its No. 11 ranked recruiting class to make an impact next year. Illinois loses its best player and point guard Demetri McCamey and its three top frontcourt players (if you count Jereme Richmond as a wing) - Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale and Bill Cole.

Tracy Abrams has the opportunity to secure major minutes at the point guard position.

Mike Shaw certainly needs to come to campus ready to play heavy minutes on the frontline. Nnanna Egwu has an opportunity to provide depth to the frontcourt.

Illinois will be deepest at the wing position so it isn't as a pressing need for Langford and Mycheal Henry to perform as the other freshmen. But both of these wing prospects are talented enough to work themselves into the rotation as freshmen.


Is Arizona coming back?

How do you think Arizona's recent success will influence 2012 recruits such as Brandon Ashley and Shabazz Muhammad?

- Jacob from Tucson

I'm not speaking to the specific recruitments of Ashley and Muhammad, but I feel certain that Arizona is going to rise up as a power in the new Pac-12. There is just too much history behind the Arizona program, and coach Sean Miller is just too good of a coach for this not to happen in my opinion.

Currently Arizona stands atop the Pac-10 rankings and is getting great publicity for the development of future high NBA draft pick Derrick Williams. A potent 2011 recruiting class is on the way next year, and the best thing for Arizona is that two of those recruits- Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson were snubbed by the McDonald's All-American game. These recruits will likely get more publicity for being snubbed then they would have gotten if they had made the team. It is also very likely that they will come to campus with more of a fire to prove that they are two of the top players in the country.

Also with a five-star prospect Grant Jerrett committed in the 2012 class, there is a whole lot of positive momentum in the Arizona basketball. Can't see a reason why that would change any time soon.


Don't sweat Drew departure

Jerry, what does UNC do after the departure of Larry Drew? Do you take a 2011 or go the JuCo route? Thanks.

- Ellington from Anderson

North Carolina takes a deep breath and then lets out a sigh of relief. There is nothing worse than having a marginal player on your team who isn't down with the program and doesn't want to be there. Sometimes you sell your soul for a malcontent baller and hope the good will outweigh the bad. But I have never known of a team who lost an unhappy player such as Drew that didn't get better after his departure.

Kendall Marshall has some holes in his game at this point, but he is definitely an upgrade at the position and has already made North Carolina better this year.

North Carolina has one of the top point guards in 2012's Marcus Paige committed, so there is no need to try to sign someone late in 2011. Hopefully for UNC, Dexter Strickland can handle backup point guard duties for a year and then Paige will be on the roster.


Beal is similar to Allen

Brad Beal is obviously one of the best guards in the country. Since bursting on the national scene the summer of his freshman year, Beal has been successful by winning multiple gold medals and being a state champ. Since then he has improved and became a top 10 player. With that being said, do you believe Beal will move even higher in the rankings?

- Matthew from St. Louis

At No. 7 in the country, Beal probably isn't going to go any higher. Nonetheless, I wanted to answer your question and give Beal some ink, because he is one of those prospects you wish you could rank higher if you could.

The reason why is because of his mature and sophisticated game. As a shooting guard Beal doesn't have a weakness, and he has a prolific strength as a scorer.

We just saw Ray Allen break the NBA three-point record, and there is a lot of Allen in Beal. I'm not saying that Beal will be the next Allen, but Beal shares the same qualities as a determined competitor, a reliable player in all areas of the game and a deadly shooter.


Indiana's farm system

Do you think that with all of the 2012 recruits playing AAU ball on the same team, it will help Indiana in the long run, as far as chemistry? And will it equate to more wins?

- Dave from Indianapolis

It only helps Indiana having its recruits come up through its "farm system" on the Indiana Elite. These prospects are used to having Indiana on their jersey and competing for that name. They have also been competing together and developing a communal pride and identity.

We have seen the success that Ohio State and Purdue have had with multiple AAU teammates playing together. I expect Indiana to experience a tangible boost when these talented teammates get on the roster.

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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