The last time Rivals updated their 2009 recruit rankings, Rodney Williams was positioned as the #28 player in the country. Now, as his recruitment is said to be picking up, Rivals sends Williams tumbling down to #95 in the country.
It's not surprising to see some fluctuations in these rankings, but that large of drop is more than surprising. But thanks to the reporting of Twin Cities Hoops Czar, we have an answer.
In my last post, I noted that Rodney Williams had a drastic drop in his ranking. I asked Rivals.com what their logic was behind dropping Rodney Williams from #28 to #95 in their latest rankings. Their head scouting guru Jerry Meyer responded with this answer.
"We were giving Williams a big benefit of the doubt with the #28 ranking based on his athletic ability and potential. Unfortunately, we just haven't seen progress. He looked very out of place at the Nike Global Challenge and was just okay at Lebron Skills Camp. Can really jump, but don't know if he'll get the feel for the game and skill level for that athleticism to really translate."
Very interesting take from Meyer, and it means that the Gophers cannot get the top-two rated players in Minnesota. With Rivals' #19 player, Royce White, already committed to the Gophers, the next highest rated in-state product is Arizona State commit Trent Lockett from Minnetonka. The Gophers never offered Lockett.
We shouldn't read this as horrible news on Williams. He clearly is highly regarded among college coaches, with a nice set of offers from the likes of John Calipari and Jim Calhoun, among others. And as Meyer points out, Williams has a load of talent, even if he hasn't put the entire package together yet.
So, who else in the Rivals Top 150 (and not) are the Gophers after? Below the fold you'll see the Gophers are concentrating on two areas: point guard and big men. This makes a lot of sense considering the talent the Gophers have on board or on the way at the wing positions.
Eric Bledsoe, PG, Birmingham, Ala -- Ranked as the #12 point guard in the country, and #67 overall, Bledsoe recently told GopherIllustrated (subscription) that the Gophers, along with UAB, are currently his top two. There is no doubt that the Gophers desperately need a true point guard to team with Al Nolen. Lawrence Westbrook is a two guard. Devoe Joseph has been pegged as a scorer who can play the point. Bledsoe is described as a floor leader. And with the talent that he would have as a Gopher--Sampson, Iverson, Bostick, Joseph, Hoffarber and Westbrook--he'd have the supporting cast to excel. Of this list, Bledsoe is the guy I mostt want to see join White and WIlliams in the Class of '09.
Matt Vogrich, G, Lake Forest, Ill -- A three-star, permiter oriented guard is ranked as Rivals' #131 player in the 2009 class. Probably more of a two than a one, Vogrich can reportedly handle the point in fine fashion. The Gophers haven't--that I've seen--officially offered Vogrich, and he seems to be leaning towards Notre Dame or Michigan.
Johnnie Lacy, PG, Fitchburg, Mass -- A Wisconsin product who is playing his senior year of ball in Massachusetts, Lacy (#110) is another pure point guard that the Gophers have offered. As of early August, only Minnesota and Marquette had offered Lacy, but Tennessee, Texas and Indiana are also interested, according to Rivals. Lacy seems inclined to play for Bruce Pearl should he have the chance.
Darius Smith, PG, Chicago, Ill -- Another point guard, #113 in the nation, Smith is most often lauded for his quickness and defense. Smith's recruitment seems entirely wide-open, and he has seen interest from a load of schools, according to GopherIllustrated.
Nick Russell, PG, Arlington, Tx -- With an offer list exceptionally long, Russell would seem the biggest longshot on the list to wear maroon and gold, even though he's ranked in the same area as the aformentioned guards at #114 in the country. Russell has offers from Big Ten teams Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota, pretty much the entire Big 12 and an assortment of top-level Pac 10 schools.
Sam Dower, PF, Osseo, Minn -- Point guard isn't the only need for the Gophers. While Iverson and Sampson are two great additions, the Gophers desperately need to continue to add size. A skilled left-handed big man Dower (#119) would fit that criteria as a 6'9, 220 pound power forward. The Gophers would seem to be in competition with Gonzaga for the services of Dower. The Gonzaga blog the Kennel Report took a thorough look at Dower here. If the Zags land Dower, it will be in part because they were after Dower before Tubby Smith and the rest of the country.
Torin Walker, PF, Columbus, Ga -- A Rivals 3-star power forward (not in the Top 150) Walker is another 6'9, 220 pound power forward that would fill Minnesota's need for size. Described as a lanky, shot-blocking type of power forward, GopherIllustrated reports that the Gophers will be in Walker's top five and he wants to visit Dinkytown. But others are in the mix, including Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Kentucky and Georgia.
Daniel Miller, C, Loganville, Ga -- At 6'10, 235 pounds, this 3-star big man would fill Minnesota's need for bulk. Dennis Felton and the Georgia Bulldogs would seem to have the edge in landing Miller.
Trevor Williams, C, Denver, Colo -- An even bigger center, Williams stands at 6'11 and 250 pounds. That's beef. Unranked entirely by Rivals, Tubby Smith and the Gophers entered the Williams sweepstakes late. Colorado State, Purdue and Washington State, among others, were already knocking o Williams' door. But GI reports that Williams is enamored with Tubby Smith. He has size, but could project as a project center of sorts.