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February 29, 2012

Ask the experts: Looking toward Madness

MORE EXPERTS: Feb. 22 | Feb. 12

Rivals.com basketball recruiting analysts Jerry Meyer and Eric Bossi weigh in on four current topics.

Of all the players expected to play a major role in March Madness, whose stardom surprises you the most based on what you saw in high school of them?

Bossi: There's lots of guys who exceed expectations but Marquette just might have two of them in Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder. I saw a lot of DJO in both high school and junior college and only saw Crowder in juco ball. However, with each of them I thought they were both better suited to upper-level mid-major programs. I figured that they would be more role players and not the leaders and star players that they are now. Another player would probably be Draymond Green. I worried that he was out of shape and didn't have a position. I figured that Tom Izzo would maximize his ability, but I never thought it would be to the point that Green could be a Big Ten player of the year candidate.

Meyer: I was actually talking to a friend last night while watching the Michigan State- Indiana game about how badly we under-ranked Draymond Green. He has worked his body into top notch shape, is a tremendous competitor and has a refined and diverse skill set. I thought he was good when I scouted him, but I had no idea he would develop into the type of dominant player that he is now. .

What player who struggled this year surprises you based on what you saw in high school and expected from him in college?

Bossi: I tend to not worry as much about a freshman who is struggling because college can be such a massive adjustment on several levels. However, now that he's nearing the tail end of his sophomore year I'm surprised that Adreian Payne of Michigan State isn't producing more. He was a bit of an enigma in high school, but he routinely did things because of his athleticism and length that made you take notice. I thought a demanding coach such as Izzo was exactly what he needed but not even Izzo has been able to unlock Payne's potential just yet. Another guy who has been surprising to me is Pitt's Dante Taylor. Now a junior, he hasn't been a bad college player. But, I thought after seeing him in high school that he was the perfect big man recruit for Jamie Dixon and figured he'd be at least a 12- or 13-point and seven- or eight-rebound a night guy for two or three years.

Meyer: Everyone expected a lot more from Ole Miss guard Jelan Kendrick. A five-star prospect in everyone's rankings and ranked No. 15 in the 2010 Rivals150, Kendrick has never gotten on track as a college player. He had disciplinary issues at Memphis, and now at Ole Miss, he is averaging just five points and two rebounds per game.

Which of the five starting positions do you think is strongest right now in high school basketball?

Bossi: Good question. Right now I think the talent is definitely wing and power forward heavy but I lean slightly toward the wings. Look at the class of 2012, the wing talent is impressive. Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson (whose position is actually impossible to define), Ricardo Ledo, Devonta Pollard, Archie Goodwin, Marcus Smart, Danuel House, Sam Dekker, Winston Shepard, Cameron Biedscheid, Glenn Robinson III, Gary Harris and several others look like potential impact players in college.

Meyer: In the senior class, post players dominate the Rivals150 ranking. In the five-star range there are nine power forwards and then 21 power forwards in the four-star range. There is a total of 14 centers in the four- to five-star range.

And which is the weakest?

Bossi: Point guard. And I don't even think it's very close on this issue. The role of the point guard has changed quite a bit over the years so I'm not even talking about traditional setup guys. But there is definitely a lack of players who can initiate an offense and be trusted to make good decisions with the ball on a regular basis. Outside of a select group of guys at the very top of the 2012 and 2013 classes - it's too early to make a call on 2014 or 2015 - the current crop of point guards is quite thin.

Meyer: It would have to be the point guard position in the 2012 class. There are some quality point guards in the class, but some of the best ones such as Kyle Anderson don't fit the mold of the classic point guard. There are point guards such as Dominic Artis and Tyler Lewis that are likely undervalued as prospects, but as a whole the position is weak compared to the other positions.

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