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February 2, 2013

Mailbag: USC working to keep prospect

MORE: Top 10 juniors who are getting noticed

Rivals.com analyst Eric Bossi answers readers' questions on an assortment of topics.

Trojans trying to keep Yancy-Harris

What is the latest on the status of USC's 2013 recruit Kendal Yancy-Harris? -- Shane, Los Angeles (via email)

Since firing Kevin O'Neill and handing over the reins of the program to assistant coach Bob Cantu, the Trojans have been working to keep a hold of the 6-foot-4 point guard from Richardson (Texas) Berkner. According to sources close to the situation, everybody from Cantu to athletic director Pat Haden has been involved with keeping Harris, and other recruits, up to date on the Trojans.

However, Yancy-Harris has asked for a release, and the Trojans will cooperate with him. For now, he's been granted a bit of a "partial release" for lack of a better description. The Trojans would like him to see who is hired, but in the meantime they are allowing Yancy-Harris and his family to reach out to other programs and explore the No. 109 player in the class of 2013's options. Programs that would like to recruit Yancy-Harris have been asked to reach out to Haden and USC so that they can know who is contacting the point guard and keep things on the level. So far, Connecticut, Texas, Texas A&M, Auburn, San Diego State, Virginia and TCU are among the programs to reach out.

Berry could push for fifth star

Tell me about Joel Berry; what can North Carolina fans expect from him? -- Jason, Raleigh (via email)

Well, I can tell you that the Tar Heels are getting one of the best point guards in the class of 2014. A strong 6-foot-1 floor general from Lake Highland in the Orlando, Fla., area, Berry ranks No. 22 nationally in the junior class and has a chance to push for five-star status before he makes his way to Chapel Hill. Berry is a steady, ball-control point guard who is strong with the dribble, makes good decisions and scores off the dribble.

A good defender, Berry can play the role of scorer or distributor and he's a sneaky athlete. Berry isn't the quickest point guard in the country, but his changing of speeds and ability to bury deep jumpers with regularity keep defenders on their heels and help to compensate for his lack of elite quickness. Roy Williams' best point guards -- at least those he won national titles with, like Ray Felton and Ty Lawson -- have mostly been guys who can score as well as lead the Heels' up-and-down charge. Berry is more like them in style than say an Aaron Miles or a Kendall Marshall.

Fischer having strong year

Bossi, are there really 115 players in the country better than Luke Fischer? -- Mjvcaj (via message board)

By all accounts, the Indiana signee from Germantown (Wis.) High has been having a strong senior year. He's been putting up good numbers, and film that has been passed on to us has looked good. He's not a speed burner, but he's added strength to his 6-foot-10 frame and continues to play with a high skill level on the offensive end. He can hit jumpers, has good hands and does a good job of holding position. Some reports have indicated that he's grown to 7-foot tall, but trusted sources who have seen him in person recently say that his 6-foot-10 listing seems appropriate. When it comes to his final ranking, though, 6-foot-10 or 7-foot doesn't make much difference. Where does he finish? Not sure where, but I would say that he is more likely to go up in the rankings than down.

Can they shoot?

In the 2013 class, I think the top three players are Julius Randle, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. My question is how good of shooters are these guys? It seems Parker is the best in terms of 3-point range and midrange. -- Tripsearching (via message board)

Given that Wiggins, Randle and Parker rank as the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 players in the Rivals150, I agree with you that they are the top three players in the class to this point. I also agree with you that Parker is likely the best shooter of the trio. Looking ahead, I've been starting to view Parker as more of a four/three combo forward than a pure three man. The Duke signee from Chicago (Ill.) Simeon has good size at 6-foot-8 to play in the post, and going against bigger players gives him an advantage in terms of skill and ability to play facing the hoop. I like his high release on his jumper and the ease with which he gets it off.

Wiggins is a good enough shooter from the 3-point line when he's got time, but he's not one who will rise up on defenders when crowded. Contested jump shooting and shooting off of the dribble are probably the two biggest areas where the 6-foot-7 wing from Huntington (W.Va.) Prep can improve his game.

Randle is actually a pretty good medium-range jump shooter, and before going down with a broken foot the 6-foot-9 power broker from Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian looked like he was well on his way to becoming a threat from deep. He may be a little better shooter than Wiggins.

West Coast swing

Will you be making it out to the West Coast anytime soon? -- Paul, San Diego (via email)

Actually, I'm in Los Angeles -- Manhattan Beach to be exact -- as I answer this question. On Saturday, we'll be providing full coverage of the loaded Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. We checked out the Friday night game between Campbell Hall and Brentwood to get a look at four-star sophomore Aaron Holiday, as well as rising names Kahlil Simplis and Tra Holder.

The Nike Extravaganza features a slew of the Los Angeles area's top talent. Five-star talents including Stephen Zimmerman, Stanley Johnson, Tyler Dorsey and Isaac Hamilton will be on hand. Four-stars in attendance will include Jordan McLaughlin, Daniel Hamilton, Jordan Bell and Roschon Prince. Parker Jackson-Cartwright's Loyola squad will be in attendance as well, but the four-star point guard is still out with a foot injury. Others to keep an eye on at the event include recent Butler pledge Elijah Brown and Rashad Muhammad.



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