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June 5, 2009

Meyer's Mailbag: Comparing Knight and Wall

Jerry Meyer is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags
May 29: 2010 prospects emerging
May 22: UK roster far from set
May 15: Will Ross remain No. 1 in 2011?
What are the similarities between No. 1 point guards and overall prospects John Wall and Brandon Knight?

How good of a recruiting class does Georgia Tech have coming in this year?

And why aren't more high-level programs recruiting five-star point guard Joe Jackson?

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

Jerry's Mailbag

Can you compare John Wall to Brandon Knight? What are their similarities and differences?

-- John from Carrollton
Let's start with the physiques of the two No. 1 prospects in their respective classes. Wall is a sinewy 6-foot-4 guard, whereas Knight is more bulked up at 6-3. Both prospects have a game that starts with speed with the ball (although Knight doesn't have that freakish gear of speed like Wall). Wall relies more on change of directions when speed isn't enough, while Knight barrels through traffic with his physical strength.

As scorers, Wall's advantage over Knight is that he jumps better and has the exquisite body control to make him an outstanding finisher in the lane. When Knight is in the lane, he is more apt to seek out contact and try to draw the foul. The advantage Knight has over Wall is that he is a terrific pull-up jump shooter from behind the arc, and he is just a better overall long-range shooter than Wall. In fact, Knight's pull-up jumper from 3-point range is his most dangerous weapon, but it can work against him when he relies on it too much.

At this stage in his game, Knight is much more likely to put up 30 points and have five assists. Wall is more likely to have 18 points and 12 assists. Wall has a better feel for finding scorers when he penetrates. Knight plays more with a scorer's mentality.

Defensively, both players can be dominating. The have great lateral quickness and length. Wall is a little longer and does more damage in the open court, picking up steals with his speed and anticipation. Knight is an impressive half-court defender who uses his strength to keep his opponent out of the lane. Both players also rebound their position at a high level.

The main similarity between the two is that they are elite point guard prospects. Once you break down their games, you find they are effective in different ways.

Laying the foundation

How do you feel about Georgia Tech's class featuring Derrick Favors?

-- Marcus from Atlanta
Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt has a great class coming in next year. It is a top-five class in the country that features five ranked prospects at five different positions. Favors is the only five-star prospect, but he is an elite prospect, and the other four prospects are players who can contribute right away and will likely be there all four years.

In fact, as great a player as Favors is as a post player, point guard Mfon Udofia might be just as valuable as a recruit for Georgia Tech. Iman Shumpert will be able to move off the ball and focus on scoring, while Udofia will bring top-notch leadership and competitiveness as the team's point guard. Udofia knows what to do with the basketball and is simply known for winning games.

Glen Rice is a versatile backcourt player who excels at making plays off the dribble. Brian Oliver is an outstanding wing shooter with size. And Kammeon Holsey is a versatile and athletic forward who will be a quality complement to Favors.

Favors will likely only be with Georgia Tech for one season, but he should dominate the paint for the Yellow Jackets and command an extraordinary amount of defensive attention, freeing up his teammates.

This class gives Georgia Tech a great foundation on which to build its program in the following years.

Local ties

Joe Jackson is the second-best point guard in the nation in the Class of 2010 in my opinion, but looking at his list it seem a lot of big school are looking over him. Why aren't schools like Kansas, Louisville, Syracuse, Florida and UConn, which need to add a point guard, not recruiting him?

-- Chris from Memphis
Jackson is a big-time prospect and is coming off a great showing at the Pangos All-American Camp. He is extremely athletic, competitive and great with the basketball in his hands. I don't think he is the second-best point guard prospect in the 2010 class, but I do think he is a top-five point guard prospect in the class.

When analyzing why the schools you mentioned aren't recruiting him, you have to start with the No. 1 point guard prospect Brandon Knight. Syracuse, Florida and UConn are all targeting him. Kansas is also recruiting him, but the Jayhawks are hot after Ray McCallum as well. Louisville has Cory Joseph, the No. 2-ranked point guard, as its main target.

A big part of recruiting is also weighing out the chances of landing a recruit. Most programs feel it is going to be awful difficult to beat out hometown Memphis to land Jackson, and recruiting him just isn't worth the effort. And if Kentucky strikes out on Knight, then coach John Calipari will have a great shot at Jackson. And I haven't even mentioned Tennessee, which has put a lot of time and effort into recruiting Jackson.

One final piece

Would Ohio State be better served to try to get Aaron Craft into that touted 2010 class or wait to maybe get higher-rated point guard prospects in Phil Pressey, Joe Jackson or Cory Joseph? It's not a guarantee that those three would go to OSU, nor is it with Craft, but the kid is on [AAU team] All-Ohio Red with Jared Sullinger and Jordan Sibert (so he has friends already in the class).

-- Oliver from Cleveland
I think Craft is the man for Ohio State. For one, the growing mutual attraction between Craft and Ohio State and the chance to play in his home state had a whole lot to do with his decommitment from Tennessee. The continued pursuit of Jackson by Tennessee probably didn't help either.

Craft would be a perfect glue guy at the point guard spot with the No. 1-ranked recruiting class talent that Ohio State would have around him. Craft is physical and tough on both sides of the basketball, and he has a great feel for where to be on the court and where to get the ball.

As for the other more highly ranked point guards you mention in your question, I just don't like Ohio State's chances of landing any of those three.

Questions remain

Lance Stephenson still has not picked a college, I thought the deadline was May 20. Have you heard anything, and what happened to the deadline?

-- Anthony from Mineola
May 20 was the deadline for signing a letter of intent. That is an agreement honored by the NCAA that binds a prospect and a university for a one-year period. Certainly prospects can be released from this contract if the university releases them.

But a prospect does not have to sign a letter of intent to attend a university on scholarship. The prospect can simply sign scholarship papers and attend the school. In fact, a prospect can only sign one letter of intent per year. So any prospect that is released from a letter of intent and then "signs" that same year with another school, he is not signing another letter of intent but is signing scholarship papers.

So the only deadline for Stephenson is the deadline for enrolling at a particular school. He would need to academically qualify through the NCAA Clearinghouse before he could play on scholarship. And with Stephenson's case there are questions about his amateur status that he would also have to work through, as there are with Renardo Sidney at the moment.

Who knows when there will be a resolution to Stephenson's recruitment? It doesn't look like anything will happen until after his sexual misconduct case hearing takes place later this month. And as to what I'm hearing, Memphis and Florida International are pursuing Stephenson, and Arizona, Maryland and Florida appear to be straddling the fence in a wait-and-see posture in their recruitment of Stephenson.

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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