The Vanswers

Who's making their move up the rankings after a maybe too-eventful spring AAU period

May 11, 2007

By Van Coleman



Van Coleman

Van is one of the nation's premier recruiting experts.
E-mail here! Recruiting Expert and Generation Next's Van Coleman offers his opinions on five topics that have dominated his conversations throughout the week.


Where Kentucky, Duke and Florida will finish if they land Jai Lucas and/or Patrick Patterson:


Recruiting Class Rankings for the spring haven't been held hostage this long in some time. Both players talked a lot about going to school together throughout the process, and they have two of their final three schools in common.


But, let's not put it totally on the two players. After all, they were ready to make a decision at the McDonald's All-American Game before coaching changes clouded the recruiting picture for this dynamite duo!


Lucas is down to Kentucky, Florida and Oklahoma State while it's Kentucky, Florida and Duke for Patterson.

Their decisions will affect the rankings toward the top as some of those schools are set to finish high and did so in the fall.


Syracuse, USC and Indiana owned the top three spots, but Duke or Florida will certainly push to be in that  company with landing either one of the players.


With Florida being a common school between the two kids, and the Gators already checking in at No. 8, they would have a chance to grab the No. 1 spot if they were to land both.


They would potentially sit with two Top 15s in Patterson and Nick Calathes, and two other Top 35s in Lucas and Alex Tyus. Chandler Parsons also checks in at No. 54.


Landing one of them would still push them into that top three group with Syracuse, USC and Indiana.


Duke could crack as high as maybe No. 3 with the addition of Patterson. Their current group is made up of three Top 30s in Kyle Singler (No. 6), Taylor King (No. 28) and Nolan Smith (No. 29).


With the hiring of Billy Gillispie, Kentucky added Alex Legion in the spring (No. 36) after he was released from his letter of intent at Michigan - a big get for the `Cats. They've also kept everybody coming that signed in the fall, and if both Lucas and Patterson were to jump on board, we'd consider it a Top 10 class. They'd essentially be adding three Top 40s - the kind of thing Kentucky fans feel they should do every year.


But everything is still on hold. From what I've been told by John Lucas, Jai and his family will make a decision Monday and announce a press conference date for later that week to let the media know of the choice.


We could see a list trimmed to two on Monday, or nothing said at all until the coaches are called with the decision. It wouldn't even be surprising to see two press conferences going on at the same time in different places - that's just how this recruitment has gone.


Class of 2008 Rankings


A player that may belong among the top five is Ed Davis, who sits at No. 8 in our pre-Spring update. He had a great Boo Williams Tournament and has played very solid since. I look forward to seeing him at the Nike Memorial Day Classic. He's been giving consistency that we haven't seen from all the rest at the top. No. 6-rated Al-Farouq Aminu is another consistent player who is playing his way into top five territory.


Outside the top 10, but making a push up, is Michael Dunigan. He's had a great past few weeks and been a beast inside blocking shots. One Big Ten assistant told me if Dunigan were to play in the Big Ten that he may lead the league in blocks his freshman season.


Tyler Zeller is another big man making his move. The 7-footer for Indiana Elite put on about 20 pounds and is up to the 205-10 range. At Real Deal on the Hill, he was dominant inside. At the Kingwood, he was dominant inside. His consistency has been phenomenal and he's setting himself up to get into the Top 25-30 range, and potentially be a candidate for a McDonald's All-American spot.


Romero Osby looks every bit of the No. 14 spot he's at. He's a premier wing in a class short of them and is real athletic with great skills. The big dogs are starting to howl and people who think he won't leave the South may question that thought with the big-timers across the country dialing his number.


JaMychael Green, the 6-foot-8 powerman out of Montgomery, plays hard every minute and is creeping into the Top 30.


Iman Shumpert can fill it from deep and has combo skills with the ball. He's an excellent passer and a good ball handler with a chance to be Top 20-40 nationally. I've still got to see more of him before I can say he breaks into the McDonald's field. He averaged just 15 points a game in high school and maybe didn't get the opportunity to show himself in that arena like he is now. He's had the flash and glitter the past couple weeks, but we'll need to see more.


Elliot Williams absolutely lights it up and should be a high priority for hometown schools Memphis and Tennessee. If you walk over to the court he's playing on you know you're going to see him get 20. It doesn't take him a tremendous amount of shots to do it either,


Courtney Fortson is a player I look forward to seeing again. This tough hard nosed point guard from Southeast Elite flat out finds ways to beat people. This is a guy who wins and in a class with flashy point guards, but when it comes down it people might be saying at the end of the road that they should have been there on this productive point.


Josh Crittle, DeShawn Thomas and Jerime Richmond are some others proving their worth. Thomas might not be a LeBron James, but he's looking hard to knock off the top spot in the Class of 2010. He's a long, lean, aggressive athlete who can score from the arc on in.


I'll be on the road the next five weekends and after the NBPA Camp, we'll update our Class of 2008 rankings. In the next two-to-three weeks, expect and update on the Class of 2009 where we jump the number of ranked players from 60 to 100.


Prep School Issue


One of the things I'm hoping the NCAA doesn't do is go so far over board thinking that the 30-40 prep schools that have been there the last 40-50 years and have had great coaching are part of any "diploma mills."


The disappointment I see is for the players coming out of the average public school who need a prep school but can only now take one core course at the prep.  With the rule change to go to 16 hours of core courses, it's two more than most kids have been attuning themselves for (the rule was 14) and they aren't grandfathered in, which is ludicrous.


The legit schools would do a great job of not only getting them those two courses, but making it happen for them with another year of maturity before college.


I think the NCAA needs to take a breath and step back. They need to monitor the situation more instead of throwing their hands up and making it impossible for kids to go prep and not go forward.


Another question I have is whether all high school students entering college are required to have 16 core courses? Athletes shouldn't have different requirements than anyone else. If there's an increase for them, there should be an increase for the rest. No high school I know is pushing 16.


If they sat down and talked to the guys at South Kent (Conn.), St. Thomas More (Conn.), Hargrave Military Academy (Va.), Fork Union Military Academy (Va.) and Maine Central Institute, they'd see that they've had kids go on to college prepared and ready to go to real classes. Those schools have been relevant for as long as I've been in the business, some 30 years now.


I'm wondering why everyone is in the same pot now. Some of the Johnny-come-latelys do in fact have good academic situations with them. But then again, not all of them do and it's those that should be addressed after looked into. Not all the prep schools.


Just because there's one bad apple doesn't mean you throw the barrel out.


The Spring's Live Period


This past spring it was clear that coaches were crammed into being on the road four straight weekends to recruit and for the kids they were starting to miss more school than they have been in the past. When the live period was cut down, it forced coaches to have to make quicker decisions about who they're going to recruit and made the players feel obligated to have to be out playing on the road every weekend in April.


With that the case, and there practically no fall period and summer being limited, it makes the spring semester difficult for the kids. They're missing Thursdays and Fridays of school for what's five or six straight weekends starting the end of March and into May.


I don't see why the spring doesn't have two weeks in each month instead of all the live weekends being banged into April. It would give a concentration on school for the kids and give the coaches better time to figure out who to recruit and some time to spend with their families with the season just having ended.

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