Telep Breaks Down The Billikens' Class

Though he has yet to coach a game at Saint Louis University, Rick Majerus has already made a big impact on the Billikens and has the program in position to contend for the Atlantic 10 Conference for the next several years. spoke with National Recruiting Director Dave Telep on Friday to get his views on the five-member recruiting class Majerus has already assembled for the 2008-09 season.

When Majerus, the former Utah coach, was named the Billikens' coach on April 30, he had to try to quickly add players for the 2007-08 squad, fill out his coaching staff with two more assistants and also try to make up ground on recruiting the Class of 2008.

"This is what a lot of people don't understand, how difficult it is," Telep said. "Back 10 years ago if you got a job in April or May, you were in business because you were right in line with everybody else. But recruiting at this stage, when you take a job in the spring, you're essentially starting a year behind. I think to assemble the class that they've gotten is above and beyond the call of duty."

Here is a breakdown of what Telep had to say about those recruits:

Willie Reed

"Willie Reed is a 6-foot-10 guy from Kansas who has not put all the pieces together yet, but has the potential to come in and be a very, very good player. In sheer size alone, the Atlantic 10 has not seen a ton of guys like that."

Brett Thompson

"Brett Thompson has a unique package of skill and size and now he has to add the component of consistency and toughness and being dedicated to playing inside and rebounding his position."

Kwamain Mitchell

"Kwamain Mitchell is going to be the leader of this crew, probably from Day 1. He is that guy that Rick Majerus can hand the basketball to and — to use a line from Skip Prosser who said this about Chris Paul — he said I can hand him the basketball and 40 minutes later he hands it back to me in pretty good shape. I think Rick Majerus can use Kwamain Mitchell in the same manner. He's a very trustworthy guy at that position. He will get in the paint and make things happen. He's got options in Reed and Thompson and to a degree Conklin."

Femi John

"Femi John is a bigger, stronger, more physical wing player who by all accounts should excel at the mid-major level."

Telep did not have much to say about Brian Conklin, because he hasn't seen the forward from Oregon enough, but we did ask him about the two shooting guard prospects the Billikens coaching staff is still targeting with that sixth available scholarship offer: Kyle Kuric and Denver Holmes.

"Kyle Kuric is a wing player with some bounce and some athleticism and can make shots from different parts on the floor," Telep said. "He is a very, very talented athlete. Denver Holmes is more of a system-oriented guy who is a perimeter player with a really nice feel for the game, but not as athletic as Kuric."

Kuric currently has a scholarship offer from SLU. Holmes does not.

"To me, if you get a guy like Kuric, you're probably dealing with a lock three-year starter at his position," Telep said. "Holmes is a piece of the puzzle. If you have a shooter like Denver Holmes, he can keep people off Thompson and Reed. He can be that kick-out guy from Kwamain Mitchell. So he's a unique piece to that puzzle, whereas Kuric gives you a lot of versatility in his game. He's a talented player. He reminds me a little bit of maybe a mid-level Bobby Sura type."

To wrap up the interview, we asked Telep to give us an overview of where this recruiting class has the Billikens headed in terms of competing in the Atlantic 10 Conference in the future.

"Right now the road to that championship goes straight through Xavier," Telep said. "Until somebody can tangle with Xavier year in and year out, that is and will be the team to beat in that league. What's going on now with Saint Louis, you see Saint Louis obviously adding a lot of talent in this class. You know Rick Majerus has a reputation for developing his guys. You have a foundation class in a league that they can eventually win, and that's pretty much all you can ask for. You have the foundation for what can be a winner in the Atlantic 10 going forward. This is not an overnight deal. It's going to take a little bit of time. But when you bring in a recruiting class of this caliber, you can pretty much knock a year off the process of getting it back."

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