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February 21, 2014

Mailbag: Latest on Turner

THE LIST: Class of 2015 Rivals150

With college basketball season in full swing, Rivals.com basketball recruiting analyst Eric Bossi dives into his mailbag.

Latest on Turner

"Is there anything new with Myles Turner? Has he set up any other visits?"
-- Brandon M., Oklahoma City (via email)

I guess you could say that there is and there isn't anything new on the nation's No. 6 player, Myles Turner. The big man from Dallas (Texas) Trinity is the top unsigned player in the country and will likely be the only player at April's McDonald's All-American game who hasn't made his college choice. So, what's the hold up?

I don't know that I would say that there is a hold up. Turner has always said that he would take his time with his recruitment. He visited Ohio State in the fall and Oklahoma State here a few weekends ago. The five-star big man's high school season just finished and he has three visits left that he can take and places like Arizona, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Texas are under consideration for official visits. Also, given his recent unofficial to SMU, we have to give the Mustangs more consideration. Turner and his family haven't been giving out many hints either.

However, the grapevine is active with chatter regarding where Turner may be leaning towards. For most of the winter, the chatter has focused on the Longhorns, Jayhawks and Cowboys while Larry Brown and the Mustangs hung around just outside that group. In the last couple of weeks, SMU seems to have replaced Oklahoma State in getting the most talk. Texas gets a lot of run because of proximity to home and a lineup that has a nice spot for him in the frontcourt -- especially with Texas showing that they can play Jonathan Holmes as a three. Kansas has obviously become well known for developing big men but Turner wants to see whether or not freshman Joel Embiid will return. If Turner decides previous to Embiid making his intentions clear (even if only privately to the Kansas staff) then it could be tough for the Jayhawks.

I expect that we will see visits set up soon. For now though, based on what I've been hearing, Texas looks to be in the best position.

Strong push

"Have you seen any currently unranked players that you feel could make a strong push for the final Rivals150? When will those rankings be released?" -- Carter, Los Angeles (via email)

I'll start with the second question. I expect that we will roll out a final ranking of the class of 2014 sometime around late April. Last year we did rankings previous to gathering intel and observing the Nike Hoops Summit and Jordan Brand Classic and there are a few big changes that would have happened had we waited. For instance, Embiid would have been a lot higher. So, this year we won't update the rankings until after all of the main All-Star games have been played. The rankings in the classes of 2015 and 2016 will get updates in March before the travel ball season kicks in.

Back to the first part of your question, it seems that every spring there are about 10-12 players that we would like to find room for in the Rivals150 but finding that many players to move out is tough. The same thing will happen this year. In doing preliminary lists it's more about figuring out who drops out than identifying who we want to move into the rankings. Right now, there are three players that stand out to me. Unsigned point guard Devonte Graham, Creighton bound wing Ronnie Harrell and Loyola Marymount signee Elijah Stewart

In fact, all three of those guys stand out as players who probably need to enter the rankings in four-star territory. Graham is the best available point guard in the country and has great size and playmaking ability. Harrell is a tall and lanky wing with a high level of skill while Stewart is as big a steal as there is in the class of 2014 because of his all-around game.

Trending back

"What trend on the court would you like to see return that's dwindled as of late? Could be anything as little as headbands, or tapping backboards on layups to something much more relevant to the actual game... For me, it's guards with post games. I understand some of that has gone away as more and more teams use zone defenses, but give me another Nick Van Exel, Mark Jackson or even Quentin Richardson (before he got older and just stood behind the arc and hoisted)."
-- Danny, Skokie, Ill. (via email)

From the not so serious category I am hoping that we continue to see a trend away from mohawks. I've always been a fan of the post dunk backboard slap with one hand but some refs are a bit testy about that one.

I am in agreement with you about guards who have post games. However, I have a little bit of a twist on it. I think we need coaches who are willing to post up guards more than we need guards who can post up. In the NBA, a guard who can post is a very valuable and quite often used weapon. For some reason, though, college and high school coaches just don't seem to like to post their guards or even their wings for that matter. I would really love to see more inverting of the offense by coaches to take advantage. Seems like we see a lot of small three guard lineups these days and coaches get away with them because those little guys aren't being forced to guard enough in the post when they give up few inches in size.

Projecting Davis

"Do you see Eric Davis as a true point guard in college? Do you still believe he is leaning towards leaving the state?"
-- @umwolfpack87 (via Twitter)

We actually changed Davis from a point guard to a shooting guard in our database within the last week. Really, he's a scoring combo guard meaning that he has the game of a natural two but the size of a point guard. He handles well enough to play the point but he doesn't seem all that comfortable in being the guy who initiates and orchestrates a team's offense each trip up the floor. Davis' strength is as a pure scorer so he's naturally more comfortable playing off the ball. Can he develop into more of a full time one? Sure, if he improves his decision making and playmaking. But, the way I see it why try and fit a square peg into a round hole. Put him in positions to score first and let him develop his playmaking over time. As for picking a school, he does strike me as a kid who is willing to look outside of not only the state of Michigan but the Big Ten conference.

Point guard drought

"Are the next couple classes better stocked with elite PGs or is the cupboard still pretty bare? PG seems to be light."
-- @acieearl (via Twitter)

Everything is relative and seems to go in cycles. Right now, it would appear that we are in a cycle of point guard play that doesn't feature many elite floor generals. There are certainly many very good floor generals but the high school ranks aren't currently overflowing with guys that you watch and say to yourself "he looks like he's going to be a great pro some day."

In 2015, the point guard who currently rank the highest like Tyler Dorsey and Isaiah Briscoe could easily be viewed as shooting or combo guards. The highest rated true point guard is Jalen Brunson who hasn't yet shown quite the speed and athleticism you would like to see out of a guard his size if he is going to be truly elite. An up an comer like Justin Simon, he's another that many might not really view as a point guard. Bottom line, if you can play the point in 2015 you have a lot of room to impress. It should be noted, though, that the West seems to have a pretty good group of points and combos in 2015 with guys like Aaron Holiday, Kendall Small, Marcus LoVett and others out there along with the already mentioned Dorsey and Simon.

Early on, 2016 is looking to be quite similar. Some of the guys with the most elite potential like Seventh Woods haven't quite proven to be true point guards while some of the more traditional point guards don't have either the size or athleticism you would ideally like to see in an elite point guard prospect. But, it is obviously quite early with that class.

Best left on the board

"The class of 2014 is pretty much picked over. Who are the top remaining point guard prospects on the board?"
-- Joshua, Dallas (via email)

In an earlier question about currently unranked players I brought up Devonte Graham and he is easily the top available point guard. The North Carolina native has outstanding size, good speed and good athleticism to go along with his steady decision-making. However, Appalachian State's refusal to release him from the letter of intent he signed during the fall of 2012 means that he is likely going to be ineligible his freshman year. That creates problems for those seeking immediate help but he is a legitimate high major prospect.

After Graham, there are several tweeners. Devin Watson from California is a former Oregon State commit who is very speedy and can really score the ball. But, he is also relatively slight and a sub six-footer. Texas A&M and St. Mary's are a few that are active with him. Another sub six-footer who has gotten a lot of attention is prep schooler Jarvis Garrett. The Milwaukee product is tough, makes mid range jumpers and competes. Marquette and Rhode Island have been getting a lot of mention with him of late.

Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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