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March 12, 2009

Meyer's Mailbag: 2009 big men ready for impact

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
March 6: Tyler in contention for No. 1?
Feb 27: KU, USC to feel five-star impact
Feb 20: Breaking down Barnes
Does Oklahoma have a capable replacement for Blake Griffin with recruit Keith Gallon?

How will DeMarcus Cousins impact Memphis' offensive attack?

And who are the top candidates for the No. 1 spot in the 2010 rankings when they are updated?

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

Jerry's Mailbag
Gallon's impact

Assuming Blake Griffin goes to the NBA, do you see Keith Gallon coming in for Oklahoma next year and making a big impact and being a top freshman?

-- Drew from St. Louis
I do see "Tiny" making a big impact at Oklahoma. He has had a tremendous year for Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy, and he has his body moving in the right direction. I've always said that Gallon is an NBA talent if he ever gets serious about his game and his conditioning. Well, it looks like Gallon has gotten serious, and it has paid big dividends for him.

If Gallon keeps it up, he will be one of the better offensive interior players in the country. He is a load on the low block and can also stretch the defense with his 3-point shooting. Need help against the press, and Gallon is the perfect big man to help beat pressure. Double team him down low, and he is an excellent passer.

I also expect Andrew Fitzgerald to do great things with the Sooners. Another big body, Fitzgerald gobbles up rebounds and has a great feel for putting the ball in the basket. He will likely share time with Gallon because of defensive concerns. But if OU coach Jeff Capel can figure out a way for them to coexist on the defensive end, they would be a dangerous duo on the offensive end.

Ready to dominate?

What impact will DeMarcus Cousins have in Memphis?

-- Carlos from Memphis
Cousins will give Memphis a look that it has not had in a long time as a dominant offensive post player. Look for Memphis coach John Calipari to tweak the dribble-drive offense and get Cousins consistently involved on the ball side of the offense to take advantage of his impressive scoring and passing ability.

There simply isn't an area on the court where Cousins isn't effective offensively. Cousins' size and skill package would make him a formidable presence in high ball-screen situations. And if Memphis wants to give the point guard a break from initiating the action, Cousins is the perfect post-up player. With his size and strength he can command any space he wants on the court. Once he has the ball, the defense has to choose its poison. Defend him one-on-one, and Cousins scores. Double team him, and he finds the open man.

Holding down the top spot

With the spring AAU season closely around the corner, when will the 2010 rankings be updated? Who are the prime candidates for the No. 1 overall spot and why?

-- Marticus from Memphis
The 2010 rankings will be updated after evaluating the travel circuit in April. Josh Smith presently has the No. 1 spot, and there is a very good chance he holds it. He does have some heavy competition, however, breathing down his neck.

Right behind him at No. 2 is the top point guard in the class, Brandon Knight. Continuing to improve and further establish himself as an elite prospect, Knight could possibly follow in the footsteps of John Wall as a point guard taking the No. 1 overall spot.

The other top candidate for the No. 1 spot going into the travel season is Jeremy Tyler. The Amare Stoudemire clone had a monster senior season and appears to be taking positive strides in controlling his emotions on the court. Similar to DeMarcus Cousins in the 2009 class, there really isn't any one player who can stop Tyler other than himself.

Warren vs. Evans

I think Willie Warren is the best freshman in the country. I know Tyreke Evans is bigger, but I think Warren is more athletic and a better shooter. I think if they switched places, Warren would average about 20-25 [points] at Memphis. What do you think?

-- Nkem House
Warren is certainly having one of the top freshman seasons this year, averaging 14.7 points and 3.1 assists entering Thursday's Big 12 tournament game with Oklahoma State. More important, he has found his niche on a talented team, making Oklahoma a championship contender. Coming into the season there were questions about whether Warren was a selfish player and could fit in on a college team. Warren has answered those questions.

I agree that Warren is a better shooter than Evans, but I'm not so sure he would average 20 points per game if he traded spots with Evans. There are too many other weapons on the Memphis team. Evans was averaging 16.9 points through Wednesday. Warren matches that but probably doesn't get much more than that.

Incoming Illini

What do you make of Bruce Weber's '09 recruiting class at Illinois? To me, just by positions and athletic skills, this class could resemble the Illinois '05 team with Dee Brown, Deron Williams, James Augustine and Luther Head. What's your take?

-- Andrew from Lexington
Illinois will get a lot of production over the coming years from its 2009 class, but I'm not so sure I would compare it to the foursome of Brown, Williams, Augustine and Head. Yes, the 2009 class has three guards and a power forward, but I don't know if you have a full-time point guard out of Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and Joseph Bertrand so they can log heavy minutes on the court together.

Secondly, Tyler Griffey doesn't have the size to hold down the 5 position like Augustine did. Augustine was a finesse big man who met his match in Sean May, but he played the 5 position on that Illinois team. Griffey, on the other hand, is a skilled 4 man who will stretch the defense with his 3-point shooting.

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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