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NRS Mailbag: UK, UNC, Austin Nichols, Tyus Jones

Welcome to the National Recruiting Spotlight mailbag where we file through the questions you send in and answer them here on the website. You can send in questions at anytime through filling out the form below, mentioning me on Twitter (@JoshPaunilNRS) or shooting me an e-mail at joshpaunil@gmail.com.

Do you feel that Duke’s chances of signing [class of 2013 power forward] Austin Nichols have gone from very good to quite low, with Florida and Tennessee much more likely?Tim Gay (Arcola, Virginia)

I’m not sure that Duke’s chances of landing Nichols were ever very good. I think a lot of people (media and fans alike) over blew how much that Duke offer impacted Nichols’ recruitment. Yes, obviously it means a lot to a kid who had previously been getting mostly local looks (Memphis, Tennessee, etc.) who then landed an offer from one of the best programs in college basketball history, but I don’t think Duke was ever at the top of the list for Nichols. A lot of people said (and thought) that he grew up a Duke fan but he recently revealed to me that he actually grew up more of a Memphis fan since both his mother and sister attended the University of Memphis.

The Memphis native has only visited Tennessee so far but he is hoping to visit Missouri, Florida, Virginia, Duke and North Carolina. He also named Duke, Tennessee, Memphis, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Missouri as the programs coming after him the hardest and says he has built the best relationships with the coaching staffs at Florida, Tennessee, Missouri and Virginia.

Nichols is looking to cut his list to six schools within weeks and said “Missouri, Virginia, Florida and probably Tennessee” would make that list. In my best estimation, I would say Memphis is the fifth school to make the list with Duke and North Carolina fighting it out for the last spot, with the Blue Devils having the edge. Although he hasn’t named any favorites, I’d say that Florida has a slight lead but if you’re a Duke fan, it’s not that head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff aren’t trying. Nichols simply has some concern about the depth that both North Carolina and Duke have at his position.

Is it safe to say that UK will have [the] #1 class in 2013 and 2014 ? Which will make 6 #1 classes in a row. Unreal accomplishment.” –Patrick Devine (Mt. Washington, Kentucky)

In my opinion, Kentucky didn’t have the top class in the class of 2012, but them and UCLA were basically 1A and 1B so that’s really just semantics. As for the Wildcats’ chances for the number one class in both 2013 and 2014, I don’t see any reason to bet against them. As long as they have head coach John Calipari, they’re not going to have to recruit kids that hard, they’re really just going to choose who they want from the top of the rankings.

Getting into specifics though, I think they are the team who has the best chance to land the best class in 2013 in large part because of their chances with the Harrison twins — point guard Andrew and shooting guard Aaron Harrison. Kentucky is also in contention for small forward Jabari Parker and power forward Julius Randle although I think Parker chooses Duke and Randle picks either Kansas or North Carolina. However, if they ever get around to offering power forward Chris Walker and he commits [he has repeatedly said how much he wants an offer from the Wildcats] that would help minimize those loses and give Kentucky three top six commits.

Then you have shooting guard James Young, another top-ten prospect, who has said multiple times that Kentucky is his leader so you can add him to the list of likely Wildcats. Small forward Troy Williams is another guy who is more likely to go to Kentucky than anywhere else and we haven’t even mention power forward Derek Willis, a top-100 recruit already committed to the Wildcats. If all of this doesn’t satisfy you Kentucky fans, small forward Kuran Iverson is a guy who has been a fast riser this summer who Coach Calipari and staff have a good shot at if they want him.

As for the class of 2014, it’s obviously tough to predict where each guy will go since it’s still early but the Wildcats are in the top two (if not the leader) for star small forward Andrew Wiggins. For a lot of programs, it would be enough to land just Wiggins since he’s such a great prospect but some other names to be on the lookout for if you’re a Kentucky fan include point guard Joel Berry, shooting guard D’Angelo Russell, small forward Stanley Johnson, power forward Leron Black and center Cliff Alexander.

“Who will UNC most likely [add] to their 2013 class of [point guard Nate] Britt and [power forward Isaiah] Hicks?”Bobby Hall (Kentucky)

North Carolina has a terrific class so far between their two top-25 prospects of point guard Nate Britt and power forward Isaiah Hicks. However, when your one of the best college basketball programs of all time, you can never have enough McDonald’s All-Americans and top-25 players. The Tar Heels are in contention for many elite prospects in the class of 2013 and have offered guys like small forward Jabari Parker and power forward Chris Walker but they don’t have a real shot at either.

They do, however, have a very real shot at landing power forward Julius Randle, the second best prospect in the class of 2013.

Although Randle has been quite quiet in terms of his recruitment, it seems to me that he has a top four of Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina and that the Jayhawks and Tar Heels have the best shot at landing him, although each school in that top four has a legitimate shot at landing him. Even if they don’t land Randle, there are a few other prospects who they have a very good shot at.

One is center Kennedy Meeks, a guy who in my opinion is the most likely prospect to commit to North Carolina next. North Carolina and Georgetown seem to be the two schools with the best shot at landing Meeks with the Tar Heels having the edge. Louisville, Indiana and North Carolina State are players too. Small forward Troy Williams is another guy North Carolina could land since they’re in his top two. Williams claims to be even between them and Kentucky although I think he’d pick Kentucky right now if he had to commit over the Tar Heels.

Any insight on Tyus Jones‘ recruitment?” –John Smith (@Trey_Dre20)

The class of 2014 star point guard is keeping quiet regarding his recruitment but he’s also in the beginning stages of the process. He has a long list of offers from schools including Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Baylor, Ohio State, Marquette, Duke, Arizona, Providence and Indiana. He has also drawn recent interest from Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA.

Jones has taken trips to Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State and plans on visiting Baylor and Duke this summer. He has nothing else planned and didn’t identify any other schools he’s looking to visit.

One thing that won’t be too big of a factor but is worth mentioning is that Jones has told NRS multiple times that he has talked to both class of 2014 stars shooting guard Theo Pinson and center Jahlil Okafor about attending the same school, with the most conversations being between he and Okafor. Okafor has also told NRS that he’s interested in playing with Jones and that he has talked to him about teaming up in college although both say it won’t play too big of a factor in their decisions. Minnesota, Michigan State, Arizona, Ohio State and Duke are the schools they have discussed.

Jones has absolutely no timetable for a commitment and doesn’t know when he wants to put a list together or even how many schools will be on that list, although he did indicate he’ll focus more on his recruitment more after he finishes his AAU season.

*You can send in questions to the NRS mailbag anytime through filling out the form below, mentioning me on Twitter (@JoshPaunilNRS) or shooting me an e-mail at joshpaunil@gmail.com.

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