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December 24, 2011

Ask the experts: Most college ready?

MORE EXPERTS: Dec. 14| Dec. 8 | Nov. 14 | Oct. 23

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

Which post player out of the 2012 class do you think will have the biggest impact as a freshman?

Meyer: Anthony Bennett isn't the highest ranked post prospect in the Rivals150, but he is a solid top 10 prospect who some would argue should even be in the top-five range. More importantly concerning the type of impact he will have as a freshman, Bennett will have the easiest transition to the college game of all the top post players.

Bennett has superior physical strength. He is an explosive athlete. He consistently gives a great effort and plays with a high motor. And his skill set is diverse enough where he can produce in the paint, outside the paint, in transition and in the half court. In addition, he is such a relentless rebounder, he can put up numbers even when he doesn't get a lot of touches in the offense.

Bossi: There is no shortage of top interior prospects in the class of 2012. However, some of the best, like Baylor-bound Isaiah Austin, will need to bulk up before they can fully reach their potential. Mitch McGary is one guy who should be ready from a physical standpoint and he understands how to play hard but he hasn't looked as explosive as a senior as he did during the summer. Steven Adams has a very good chance to make an immediate impact at Pittsburgh, but he'll not only be adapting to the rigors of college, he'll be adjusting to an entirely different culture as he makes his way to the the U.S. from New Zealand. So, for now, because of his physical readiness and his school's need for a low post player, I'll go ahead and go with the Michigan-bound McGary.

Which college freshman has impressed you the most so far this season?

Meyer: There are a number of freshmen who are playing well this year, but the overall play and seamless transition into his team's system by Bradley Beal has impressed me. Entering a Florida roster loaded with scoring guards, Beal is leading the Gators in minutes played and is second in scoring with 15.5 points again. Perhaps most impressive are the rebounding numbers for Beal, who has a played a lot at the three. He is averaging 6.3 rebounds per game. The chemistry of Florida's backcourt has stayed intact if not improved with the infusion of Beal, and the team is looking good with a 10-2 record.

Bossi: There have certainly been plenty of guys that have been good as freshman. Last year's No. 1 player Austin Rivers has been electric at times for Duke and Anthony Davis has had his moments at Kentucky. If Washington had a little bit better record -- and he had fewer turnovers -- I'd be very tempted to go with Tony Wroten who is averaging 16 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Instead, I'll stick with the guy who was one of my favorite players to ever watch on the high school level and go with Florida Gator Bradley Beal. Everybody knew that the 6-foot-4 shooting guard would be able to score as a freshman and he's done that to the tune of 15.5 points per game. However, Beal has also been impressive defensively and on the glass where he's averaged over six rebounds per game from the wing. While he hasn't shot the ball poorly, Beal has a chance to compete for SEC player of the year honors if he can push shooting percentages up a little more.

Is there a 2012 prospect you have seen during this high school season that will likely find a spot in the final Rivals150 this spring?

Meyer: I was quite impressed with the play of Ole Miss commitment Anthony Cortesia at the City of Palms Classic. At 6-foot-9, Cortesia, who is from Venezuela, is a sharpshooter from outside, can slash to the basket and has an advanced feel for the game. There just aren't many players at his size who can do what he does. As he gets stronger and becomes a more physical player, Cortesia will further tap into his vast potential.

Bossi: Through the games that I've seen so far this season, a guy that jumps out to me is Arkansas-bound Michael Qualls. The 6-foot-5 small forward from Shreveport (La.) Huntington has been putting up big numbers, has shown more game than I realized he had and is really coming into his own. One of the nation's top run and jump athletes, the long armed wing is also a perfect fit for Mike Anderson's pressing, up-and-down style in Fayetteville.

Five-star prospect Jarnell Stokes committed to Tennessee on Thursday. What does he mean to Cuonzo Martin's program?

Meyer: It has been pretty rough sailing for Tennessee this year, but the Volunteers have a steadying hand coming on deck in five-star prospect Jarnell Stokes. Immediately, Stokes will be a physical force in the paint and a superior rebounder. He might need a little adjustment time to find his scoring touch at the SEC level, but Stokes will find that touch sooner than later.

But perhaps even bigger than the impact Stokes will have on the court, he is the first signature recruit for Tennessee's first-year head coach Cuonzo Martin. Momentum is critical in recruiting, and Stokes' commitment jumpstarts Tennessee's recruiting effort. Great players want to play with great players. Top prospects will take notice of this commitment, and Martin and his staff hope to parlay it into other significant recruiting wins. And better yet for Volunteer fans, Martin pulled Stokes out of Memphis.

Bossi: During his first year at the helm in Knoxville, Martin and his staff has experienced their fair share of bumps and bruises. On the recruiting trail, the lack of a big-name commitment has also had Volunteers fans asking whether or not Martin is ready to recruit in the SEC. Landing Stokes while beating off SEC titans like Kentucky and Florida as well as hometown favorites Memphis says that Martin is very much ready to recruit with the big boys. A five-star prospect, Stokes is a potential star in the Volunteers frontcourt. Perhaps most importantly, it gives Martin and his staff an entrance into the talent-rich city of Memphis if things go well for Stokes in Knoxville.



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