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March 21, 2013

Mailbag: Does Madness matter?


Even with March Madness in gear, Rivals.com basketball recruiting analyst Eric Bossi takes the time to open up his mailbag.

March badness?

How much does a team's NCAA performance matter to recruits?
-- Micah, Dallas (via email)

My general view is that it doesn't really seem to matter all that much, or at least not as much as I wish it did. I do think that many recruits would at least like the chance to play in the tournament, but nobody is cutting Kentucky off their list because they lost to Robert Morris in the NIT.

Kansas didn't lose traction with recruits for losing to Northern Iowa or VCU. I talk to kids all the time getting recruited by Texas who bring up Kevin Durant and what he did for the program when they lost in the second round in his year. The fact is that kids for the most part care about their relationship with the coach and playing style. Obviously, regular tournament success is another selling point so I don't in any way mean to discount that it can help. I just don't think it makes a big difference in the grand scheme of things.

Personally, I wish kids would take a lot longer look at the postseason success of teams. Especially when it comes to picking a team that has continually struggled in one league versus a team that maybe plays in a lesser league but always competes for titles and NCAA Tourney appearances.

Devalued Schilling?

Talk to me about Michigan State's most recent commitment Gavin Schilling. Why isn't he ranked?
-- Jeff, Battle Creek (via email)

Tom Izzo and his staff are on the board in 2013 now and I think Schilling is a guy who eventually turns into a pretty good player for them. However, I'm not certain that he makes a huge impact right away. In the past I have compared Schilling to Kansas freshman Perry Ellis. Of course, I don't think Schilling is as far along as the former McDonald's All-American was coming out of high school, but I see a similar game, similar size and some upside. Schilling has a nice 6-foot-8 frame with strong shoulders, good hands and he is a fine athlete. After being a bit quiet in the summer, he's taken a big step forward at Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep as a senior. He's expanded his game and can make 12-foot jumpers, attack some with a dribble or two and he's become a more physical rebounder. Currently a three-star prospect, Schilling is definitely going to be in the discussion for inclusion in the final Rivals150 for 2013.

Extra seasoning?

What are the pros and cons of a fifth year (prep school)?
-- @stinkypete34 (via Twitter)

I think that it can be very beneficial for a player to take a post-graduate year. However, I think it is also important for kids and their families to understand that it isn't for everybody and that going to "prep" school doesn't magically make you a player. I think prep schools can offer better competition, a chance to adjust for a year before college and are a great place for borderline players, whether it be mid- to high-major, low- to mid-major or Div. II to Div. I types to work on their game and help their recruitment.

Prep school can also give a kid a chance to improve some coursework and their test scores. However, it is important to find a reputable school and make sure that academics are thoroughly checked to be sure that questionable students can even see any benefit from prep school or if they are just delaying junior college.

Most of all, a kid has to look at himself in the mirror and decide if he's really going to be able to improve his situation. If a kid and their family aren't totally sure that spending an extra year in high school will help them and that the athlete will put in the work, well then it's time to go ahead and move on to college and pick the best option available.

Stats it

How much do scouts try to use statistical info in their evaluations? Do you use that info personally in yours?
-- @mualumnus (via Twitter)

I don't think anybody who scouts high school basketball can use stats in their evaluations as much as they would like to. I know I can't. The thing with high school is that there are such varying levels of competition and how accurate stats are that it is tough to put too much stock into them.

Myself, I like to know what a kid averages, shoots, etc., and then I can take that information when I'm watching them in person and see if what I see on the floor matches what I'm being told about stats. But I'm not going to make too much of it. I do think they are getting better, though, and we'll likely see them continue to advance and become a bigger part of scouting.

For instance, the Nike EYBL keeps pretty good stats and I find those to be valuable. I know the competition level and it helps to be able to go back and see if stats and performance match. At the end of the day, there is just too much of a variety in level of play, how coaches use players and stat accuracy to make too much of high school stats.

Under the radar

Is there anybody that didn't make the rankings during your recent updates to the classes of 2014 and 2015 that we should keep an eye on this summer?
-- Dale, Los Angeles (via email)

There are two kids in your neck of the woods from the class of 2014 that intrigue me. Seven-footer Thomas Welsh from Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola and near seven-footer Idrissa Diallo from Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral. Though similar in size, they are about as different in terms of playing styles as two players could be.

Welsh isn't the world's greatest athlete, but he has good hands, a very nice level of skill and plays with reasonable physicality. Diallo doesn't have the greatest skill, but he is a big-time, run-and-jump athlete who plays way over the rim and runs the floor like a much-smaller player. Each player seems to be improving rapidly and they are both guys that I would really like to get more familiar with because I still haven't gotten to see a lot of them.

In 2015, the name that keeps coming up for me is James Bolden from Covington (Kent.) Holmes. I've only been able to watch the 6-foot-1 point guard in one game and that was one that I watched online. But the sophomore looks to be a dynamic athlete who can really score and has some vision. I know Xavier just offered and if everything I hear matches up with his actual game, then I'm betting many more will be on the way.

Good comp, bad comp

Can you compare Rashad Vaughn and Kevon Looney?
-- @tchoopsczar (via Twitter)

I can certainly compare Vaughn and Looney, but it is pretty evident that the five-star juniors are totally different types of players. A 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Minneapolis, Vaughn is an athletically explosive wing who has tremendous range and well above average natural scoring instincts.

From Milwaukee, Looney has now grown to around 6-foot-9 and is trending more as a power forward. He is not the same level of run-and-jump athlete that Vaughn is, but he is very smart, fundamentally sound and has become a big-time factor as a shot-blocker and rebounder as his game has evolved. Vaughn still has tons of untapped ability as he improves his ball-handling and becomes consistent with his effort -- an area in which he's made tremendous strides. Looney could be a little less straight up and down at times and will continue to add strength as time goes on. Both Vaughn and Looney are part of a pretty strong group of kids in the Midwest for 2014.



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