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February 22, 2012

Ask the experts: Mid-majors on the rise

MORE EXPERTS: Feb. 12

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

Which of the current mid-majors in or around the top 25 could really benefit from this season in recruiting?

Bossi: That's a really good question because the first thing that many of the top mid-major programs will have to do is fight off programs from big conferences coming to take their guy. For instance, I would think that Wichita State, which has already started to recruit very well, has put itself in position to keep recruiting well with all of the exposure. Schools such as Creighton, San Diego State and Gonzaga, where the coaches look to be in for the long haul, will also continue to experience success. If somebody wants to call UNLV a mid-major (it is only by conference standards, but certainly not as a program), then I really see its recruiting continue to progress along a high-major level. Another that stands out to me is Long Beach State. Seems that the 49ers have received a lot of exposure this year and they let their guys play, which should translate to more recruiting success.

Meyer: Murray State is in a great position to parlay its tremendous season into strong future recruiting. The Racers have received a good amount of national publicity and had a big win on national television last weekend. Murray State doesn't need to recruit nationally but is in a region where it can reach into the Midwest and the South to recruit. I've noticed a significant amount of high-major recruits have Murray State on their school list, along with the high-major schools.

As high school postseason hits, what state tournament would you most enjoy watching this year?

Bossi: Call me old-fashioned, but I'm a huge fan of the one-class state tournament system and for that reason, Kentucky wins for me. The best 16 teams in the state, regardless of how big the school is, make it to Lexington and play in Rupp Arena in front of huge crowds. Of course, it would be tough to go wrong with state tournaments in Illinois, Texas or Indiana because they are always pretty stacked. Also, though not a state tournament, I would love to be able to go watch the NEPSAC schools play in their tournaments in New England.

Meyer: I've always been intrigued by the Texas state tournament and the talent that plays in that event. Although not a state tournament, the playoffs in Memphis are intriguing because of all the talent in that city and the vigorous support of basketball in Memphis. It is truly a basketball city.

Who is the most personable high school prospect among the elite kids?

Bossi: Right now, we are pretty lucky because most of the elite kids have pretty good personalities. They've all been dealing with media for so long that they are comfortable. Personally, I think it's a toss-up between 2012's Winston Shepard and 2013's Chris Walker. Both are entertaining interviews, have outgoing personalities and aren't afraid to give an answer that isn't the usual canned response.

Meyer: Winston Shepard is working his way closer to being in the elite category as a prospect, and he definitely has an elite personality when it comes to being outgoing and responding openly and candidly to questions. He doesn't follow typical conventional thought and isn't afraid to speak his mind. In an age when many of the top prospects are programmed to follow a certain party line, it is refreshing to have a guy with a little less of a filter such as Shepard.

What college program will have a tough time overcoming this down season in recruiting?

Bossi: Looking across the landscape, South Carolina looks as if it has a tough road ahead. Justly or not, Darrin Horn's job has been the subject of rampant speculation and the Gamecocks are struggling on the floor and with their recruiting.

Meyer: Connecticut is in a dangerous position. There are a lot of questions about the coaching longevity of Jim Calhoun, concerns about team chemistry and the piling up of losses. Perhaps the name and brand of Connecticut will be enough to weather the storm, but there is also the strong possibility of an upcoming dry recruiting season.



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