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February 15, 2011

Ask the Experts: Who's in line for a bump?

MORE EXPERTS: Duke loaded | Look out for Villanova | Fast risers | Teams to watch

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

If you had to pick right now, who do you think would make the biggest jump in the final Rivals150 for the class of 2011?

Meyer: I've written before about Nick Johnson's impressive play this season and the likelihood of him moving up in the rankings. The other prospect in the rankings who will likely make a big jump is Otto Porter. He is 6 feet 8, highly skilled and has a great feel for the game. We didn't see him over the spring and summer, so we were quite conservative in our ranking of him.

Bossi: For me, I think I have to go with Otto Porter, the near 6-foot-9 forward from Sikeston (Mo.) Scott County Central. He's currently a four-star and ranked No. 97 nationally, but there's a good chance that he could make a push for a ranking in five-star thanks to his unique blend of size, skill and fluid athleticism.

Junior swingman J.P. Tokoto recently cut his list of schools to eight. During the summer his reputation took a bit of a hit due to some struggles. Can he return to five-star status?

Meyer: The rankings are always fluid as we work to figure things out, and as is the case with any prospect, Tokoto could certainly move up, or down for that matter, in the rankings. He will definitely be one of the top "must see" prospects when the travel circuit begins in April.

Bossi: The struggles of the 6-foot-5 junior was one of the biggest stories of last year's NBPA Camp and he was just ok when we saw him playing against 17 and under competition. But, it's not like this kid is a slouch. He's still a solid four-star and the 40th ranked player in the class of 2012. Based on his athleticism, length and body control, he certainly has the physical tools to make the jump back to five-star status. He must, however, work on his jumper and play with a bit more of an edge.

Monday night, class of 2013 shooting guard Kendall Stephens committed to Purdue. What's your opinion on recruits making such early decisions?

Meyer: I don't really have an opinion since I'm not in a position to judge other people's decisions. If a recruit has wanted to go to a certain school, the opportunity to commit presents itself and the prospect wants to end his recruitment, then it makes sense to commit early. There is always the possibility of a decommitment regardless of when a prospect commits. In Stephens' case his father was a star at Purdue, so an early commitment to the Boilermakers makes sense and wasn't a surprise.

Bossi: In general, I don't see what the rush is for any high schooler to make a decision so early in the process. I think it's actually risky on both sides because so much can change with the player and with who is actually running the program at a school they commit to. However, in this particular case, it doesn't seem to be as worrisome to me. Stephens is following in the footsteps of his father who played at Purdue and likely knows as much now about the program as he would as a senior in high school.

As it does every year, the recent announcement of the McDonald's All-American game roster created a stir. What measures would you like to see taken to make sure that the best players are selected?

Meyer: One key change for the McDonald's selection process would be to get away from a rigid adherence to so many players per position. In today's game positions are becoming antiquated. Bigs stretch the defense by shooting outside. Guards will post up mismatches. More and more, teams are going with smaller, quicker and more skilled lineups. The two lowest ranked prospects in the game this year are both centers while the top omissions are all perimeter players.

Bossi: This was the first year that I have ever participated as a voting member for the game. I don't think it will ever be possible to announce a team without controversy, there's simply too much coverage of these kids for that to happen. However, the one thing that I would like to see most is to eliminate position designations in the voting process. This year's class is wing heavy and I think the game could have been more representative of that. I understand using positions to try and field balanced teams, but the fact is the game has changed and there are few teams that play with a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center. I'd like to see a ballot where we just listed our top 50, 40, 25 or whatever versus one where we have that but have to divide by position as well.

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