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July 31, 2009

Meyer's Mailbag: Who's the top SF prospect?

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
July 22: A closer look at the nation's best
June 25: Breaking down Miller
June 12: Top 2010 shooting guard?
Who is the better prospect out of the top two small forwards in the country - Mike Gilchrist or Harrison Barnes?

Does Michigan have a legitimate shot at four-star wing Casey Prather?

And where does Tennessee turn now that point guard recruits Josh Selby and Aaron Craft have decommitted?

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

Jerry's Mailbag
Top prospect?

I know a lot about Mike Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes, but, in your opinion, who is a better player now and for the future?

-- Corin from Philadelphia
I give Gilchrist the edge now and in the future. Gilchrist is improving as a shooter, but Barnes is the better outside shooter now and will likely always be a better shooter. But outside of shooting, Gilchrist is a better ballhandler, passer, defender and rebounder. When the two matched up against each other at the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp, Gilchrist was the better player and prospect in that game.

Barnes is an excellent player who is going to have a long and productive career. Gilchrist, however, is one of those rare players - like a John Wall - who has both substance and star power to his game. With Wall, you have a feeling that he might be one of the best to play his position. The same can be said about Gilchrist as a wing player. He has all the intangibles, size and athleticism, can handle like a point guard, grind out plays at the rim and defend multiple positions at a high level.

The bottom line: If Gilchrist can develop a consistent outside jumper, there is no telling how good he can be.

Michigan in the mix

I would like to know if Michigan still is in the running for Jackson, Tenn., winger Casey Prather? Is Michigan high on his list or am I wasting my time looking for more info?

-- Paul from Ypsilanti, Mich.
Michigan is very much in the running for Prather, who recently had a strong showing in the adidas Super 64 event. There is talk that Prather might visit Michigan the second week in September for the Notre Dame football game, but those plans have not been finalized yet. Regardless, Michigan is expected to get a visit from Prather.

Florida, who just offered Prather, and Vanderbilt and Clemson, who have been recruiting Prather over the long haul, are likely candidates as well to host Prather for an official visit.

The Michigan staff is intrigued by how Prather's versatility, athleticism and motor will fit into their system despite the fact that he is not known for his outside shooting ability. Prather is intrigued by the opportunity for immediate playing time at Michigan.

Tennessee's next move

Where will Bruce Pearl turn for point guard help now that Josh Selby has reopened his recruitment? Has Selby spoken to Pearl since decommitting?

-- Michael from Knoxville, Tenn.
The Volunteers took a double shot to the gut when Aaron Craft and then Selby decommitted. Selby is no longer an option for Tennessee, and I highly doubt that there has been any communication between Selby and Pearl since Selby spurned Tennessee.

But there is no time for the Tennessee coaching staff to look back, and their eyes are set on some other point guard prospects. Five-star prospect Joe Jackson is at the top of Tennessee's priority list. Although Tennessee has relentlessly recruited Jackson over the long haul, they realize it is not going to be easy to get him out of Memphis, and there is plenty of competition outside the city for Jackson as well.

Trevor Releford is also a target for Tennessee. A pass-first playmaker, Releford is also a target for a number of programs.

Tennessee is also in the mix for Wisconsin decommitment Vander Blue, and the Vols have their eyes on another four-star point guard Trae Golden as well.

Raising his game

With Chris Crawford's performance in last week's AAU event, do you see him making a big jump in the rankings?

-- Nathan from Memphis, Tenn.
Crawford was sensational in Las Vegas, and he was pivotal in the Memphis Magic winning the adidas Super 64 event. He hit clutch 3-pointer after clutch 3-pointer, including the winner in the championship game. Besides his elite shooting ability, Crawford played an intelligent floor game as a role player and made some athletic plays.

He will jump into the rankings, likely into the four-star range. There is a premium on shooters with a solid physique and a solid all-around game, and Crawford fits this mold. Coaches took notice, and he now has a slew of offers. Georgetown, Memphis, Tennessee, Iowa State, UTEP, Southeast Missouri, Missouri, Texas Southern, Arkansas, Miami and LSU have all offered Crawford, Memphis Magic coach Eric Robinson said.

Leaving Ohio?

When did Adreian Payne say he wanted to play outside of Ohio? Not saying that he didn't, but if he had the entire city of Dayton would have exploded when he said that, and I haven't heard a thing mentioned about it.

-- Alan from Dayton, Ohio
Payne told Rivals.com's Brian Snow in early July at the King City Classic that he wanted to go to school outside the state of Ohio. Then this past week in Orlando, Fla., he told Snow that he is down to a final list of Kentucky, Michigan State, Arizona, West Virginia and Kansas.

Although Payne has not publicly named a leader, there is a lot of talk that Kentucky is the team to beat at this point.

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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