Weekly Notebook: March 11

Austin Rivers

Over the past week a lot has gone on in the world of college basketball and recruiting. The mythical national championship took place, and the debate raged on who would be the national high school player of the year. Also many kids decided to end their recruitments and make their college commitment.

Player of the Year

Right now Anthony Davis is the Scout.com No. 1 player in the nation, but that is different than thinking he is the national player of the year. While it isn't his fault, Davis played on a team that racked up a lot of losses. Because of that Davis probably isn't a contender for an award like that.

That leaves a few logical candidates remaining for such an honor. It would come down most likely to Duke pledge Austin Rivers and Kentucky signee Michael Gilchrist.

Both Rivers and Gilchrist are elite level players who had big time high school seasons leading their teams to great seasons. Also while not a lifetime achievement award, both have had excellent overall careers.

The case for Gilchrist is simple. He is the best player on one of the premier teams in the nation. While Elizabeth (NJ) St. Patrick's fell to Jersey City (NJ) St. Anthony's in what was a mythical national title game, Gilchrist still had an excellent season. He led St. Patrick's all year long, and did everything possible to help them during the season.

Whether it was offense, defense, rebounding, Gilchrist put up close to 20 points and 11 rebounds every time out on the floor this season, and had St. Patrick's in the position to come home with a national title.

With Rivers it is much of the same. He was a dominant player all season long at Winter Park (FL) High School. Rivers led Winter Park to the 6A State Title, which was the second in as many years for Rivers.

Along the way this season Rivers managed to put up a ridiculous 29.2 points per game and 6.1 boards per contest. Also in the biggest games that Winter Park played, Rivers shined the brightest showing his ultra competitiveness and flair for making plays at the big moments on the big stage.

Overall the edge would go to Rivers in this player of the year debate because of the big scoring numbers, and the fact that without him his team is going to struggle. Gilchrist has no less than five other division I prospects on his team, and without him St. Patrick's is still one of the best teams in the nation.

Rivers brought Winter Park to another level, and while in his team's biggest game Gilchrist scored seven points and grabbed 11 boards in a loss, Rivers scored 25 for his while also scoring 11 rebounds propelling them to a win.

That big game play at the right time is what gives the edge to Rivers, and separates his season from the rest.

This of course raises the question, can Rivers rise to No. 1 in the Scout.com rankings? The answer is maybe. We are always evaluating and adjusting the rankings in our mind, and both Rivers and Davis will be put to the test for an entire week at the McDonald's All-American Game, and if Rivers rises above Davis he will be rewarded accordingly.

The Most Unique Prospect in 2012

One of the most unique players in the 2012 class is Kyle Anderson. Anderson is a 6-foot-8 power forward from St. Anthony's, and someone who is as interesting of an evaluation as there is in high school basketball right now.

He is so unique that opinions from coaches, to scouts, to classmates all vary, and some of them are very strong in their feelings. Heck even inside Scout.com world headquarters there is a significant debate brewing as to what to do with Anderson.

What makes Anderson such an interesting case is that he is a 6-foot-8 power forward with no power and not a lot of forward in his game. He has guard skills, plays like a guard, and is probably at his best in that role on the offensive end. However on the defensive end he has to guard front court players, and is someone who is going to have to be put in a position to succeed with help principals within a scheme.

That is what sparks such an interesting debate on Anderson. No one denies his incredible skill level for his size or his impressive basketball IQ, but the debate comes when discussing how that will translate to the next level.

Those who view Anderson as an elite level player say that he has the savvy to be successful despite his lack of explosiveness and athleticism. Anderson is one of only a handful of players in the nation that you can run an offense through when he isn't at the point guard spot. A player such as Greg Monroe fit that description at Georgetown where with his passing and ability to score on his own in the mid-range and on the block, the Hoyas used his skill set to set up the offense and played through him.

Teams will be able to do that with Anderson. When he catches the ball in the mid-post or high post, Anderson is a threat to turn and face, drive his man, or make a fade away jumper by creating space off of a post up opportunity. Also if a man cuts and is open, Anderson will find him, as his first instinct is to pass.

That ability to put pressure on the defense from an area other than the point guard spot at the top is rare and unique, and something not often seen.

For those who don't believe as much in Anderson, they sight his lack of athleticism and quickness as mitigating factors. Some feel that when guarded by a long and athletic 6-foot-8 or taller forward at the college level, Anderson won't be able to have much success.

While Anderson can get by guys right now off the dribble, when those same players are coached and taught how to play defense, how to use their athleticism, and how to play hard each and every possession on both ends of the floor, it might not be so easy.

Also going against that same player on the other end is something that can give Anderson problems. While Anderson is 6-foot-8, he has never been a kid that defends on the block, and doesn't have the lateral foot speed to defend on the perimeter. When facing off with a strong and athletic forward it could be an issue for him.

There is no debate that Anderson is a high-major player and someone who is a top prospect. The debate just becomes is he an elite top 20 or even top 10 type of kid. Right now there is no right or wrong answer, but rest assured he will be talked about quite a bit this spring and summer as he is put to the test against the other best players in the class.

Commitment Catch-up

It was a busy week for commitments, especially at the high-major level. It all began with a flurry of pledges coming all throughout the day on Sunday.

Things got going with Mike Cheatham pledging to Marshall. The Baltimore native is a good snag for Tom Herrion and his staff, and gives them a player who can step in and give quality minutes at either guard spot.

Cheatham was then followed by Wesley Gordon who pledged to Colorado. Gordon is a nearly 6-foot-8 big man who is garnering a lot of praise and was just beginning to blow up on the radar of coaches. He is under the radar right now, but that might change as the spring and summer progress.

After those two in the morning, things really got going in the evening on Sunday as a trio of ACC teams locked up pledges. Montrezl Harrell committed to Virginia Tech, and it is a huge get for the Hokies. Harrell is a four-star power forward who is an absolute beast. Then his AAU teammate Aaron Rountree decided the time was right for him and committed to Wake Forest. All the while at NC State, the Wolfpack had Jaqawn Raymond on a visit. During his trip, Raymond decided he wanted to play his college ball in Raleigh and committed to NC State.

Things would slow down for a little bit, but later in the week it was Braxton Ogbueze picking Florida and Kevin Thomas pledging to Texas. Ogbueze was one of the few remaining high level 2012 point guards, and a huge get for Florida. Thomas is an ultra athletic forward who will come in right away and give the Longhorns depth and athleticism on the wing or up front.

Also a pair of junior college commitments took place. West Virginia snagged Dominic Rutledge while UCLA got De'End Parker. Parker had committed to Pac 10 rival California only days earlier, but upon learning that UCLA wanted him, he quickly switched gears and decided on the Bruins.

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