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February 15, 2007

Mailbag: Blair making HS season count

Pittsburgh recruit DeJuan Blair has taken his game to another level during the high school season, and Pitt fans want to know if he will jump in the rankings.

Tennessee fans have concerns about landing a big man and possibly having to replace outstanding shooter Chris Lofton.

Memphis fans are wondering what they can expect from Derrick Rose next year.

These topics and more are addressed by National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer in this week's mailbag.

Jerry's Mailbag
Jerry, Pitt recruit DeJuan Blair had an amazing performance at the Primetime Shootout at Sovereign Bank Arena. Against a loaded and very talented Dematha Catholic team, Blair put up 32 points, 20 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 5 steals. Do you think there's any chance that he could rise up in the rankings? .
Sid from Pittsburgh
DeJuan Blair will likely move up in our rankings. This high school season has revealed aspects of his game that weren't as evident during the summer.

First of all, Blair is not wearing the heavy knee braces that he wore during the summer circuit. He appears to be twice as athletic as he was then. He is quicker and is jumping higher.

Blair is an outstanding competitor who plays with passion and has great leadership qualities on the court. Playing for his high school team in a situation where there is good team chemistry has provided Blair the setting to really shine.

Now, I doubt Blair will put up gaudy stats against the big bodies in the Big East, but there is no doubt that he will be provide solid production. Although you can point out limitations in his game, Blair has a mature grasp on how a big man plays to his strengths and avoids his weaknesses.

What is Tennessee's biggest fear in recruiting? Finding a big man or finding a replacement for Chris Lofton?
Doug from Knoxville
Good question, Doug. As is the case with most good questions, there really isn't an either/or answer to this question. The fact is Tennessee needs both.

It appears, however, that Tennessee is making the most headway in landing some size. The Vols are in the final four schools - along with Connecticut, Florida and Cincinnati - for unsigned senior center Anthony McClain. Tennessee is also in a very good position to land class of 2008 combo forward Chris Singleton, whose stock is rising quickly. It will also be interesting to see how 2008 four-star power forward Philip Jurick's recruitment develops. Tennessee likes him, but so does Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and others. In fact, Tubby Smith recently watched him play. The Tennessee staff has been down to Chattanooga a good bit as well.

I know Tennessee is pursuing Elliot Williams, a 2008 four-star guard out of Memphis, but he is more of a slasher than a shooter. Jason Jones is a left-handed shooting guard out of Ridgeway High School in Memphis who is flying under the radar. The Vols coaching staff is high on Jones.

Is Anthony McClain still looking at UConn now that it seems Hasheem Thabeet will likely stay for another year and there are no other scholarships available. Also, what are the chances Tyreke Evans selects UConn over the likes of UNC and Texas?
Scott from Hartford
Anthony McClain is still looking at UConn, but it will be tough for UConn to land him if Hasheem Thabeet stays in school. For one, I don't know if a scholarship will be available for McClain if Thabeet stays. Secondly, I don't know if McClain will want to go there if Thabeet stays. Early playing time is one of the most important factors in McClain's college choice.

The chances of UConn landing Evans appear to have improved because it looks like UNC is moving out of the picture. UConn, Louisville and Texas are some of the main names you hear regarding to Evans.

What should the fans of the Memphis Tigers expect from Derrick Rose?
Sam from Germantown
Memphis Tigers fans should expect to watch one of the most exciting and yet solid point guards in the country. He'll likely play for the Tigers for one season before he enters the draft. I really believe that Rose is the type of point guard that can take the Memphis attack to a national championship level.

Offensively, Memphis likes to score in the lane or kick the ball out for 3-pointers. Rose can get the ball to any spot on the court, and excels at finding the open man. He will also take the speed of the Memphis offense to a new level. He can play faster than Darius Washington - and with more control and skill.

With Rose, you have everything you could want in a young point guard: off-the-charts athleticism, a team-oriented approach to the game and a high skill level that continues to improve.

As best I can tell, Ohio State has seven current underclassman and nine commits from the classes of 2007 and 2008 and is still recruiting others. I realize that many of the current underclassmen may turn pro early, but this seems a little risky as well as presumptive. What do you think?
Frank from Rutherfordton
It would be more of a risk for Ohio State's recruiting to assume guys are going to stay in Columbus. OSU landed the No. 2 recruiting class in 2006. Right now it has the sixth ranked class for '07 and the top class for 2008. Thad Matta and his staff has to assume they will have heavy turnover. Greg Oden, Daequan Cook and Mike Conley Jr. will be gone sooner than later. Kosta Koufos in the 2007 class could easily be an early entry in addition to the players who will complete their eligibility.

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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