Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Point Guards to watch in the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

It is always our intention to bring light to those that may not be getting mass-media hype. Annually we list the players in the NCAA Tournament that we feel have the best chances to succeed someday at the next level. This year – we found it exceedingly difficult to narrow down those worthy of mention. The talent pool is deep. 

Please use this list of the top point-guards (and the forthcoming lists for other positions) to consider guys that could be the game-changers that alter your bracket.  Just as upsets happen in the games, you may consider some of the players listed here as underdogs. You will see several "big-name" guards in the "also-considered" category. Trust that we are not hating on anyone. It is simply one person's VERY independent opinion. 

We break it down by position. Let’s start with the Point Guards!

He barely plays on a deep team but MCW is a top-prospect!
Michael Carter-Williams – Syracuse 6’5” 176 Freshman - Carter-Williams is buried on a Orange team that has experienced guards in Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche, and Dion Waiters - but the freshman, when it’s all said and done - may be the best NBA player among the bunch. Carter-Williams has logged only 269 minutes this season but his play stands out each time he appears. ...A 2011 McDonald's All-American, Carter-Williams was rated 20th overall and fourth among shooting guards on the 2011 ESPNU 100. ...While some may see him as a SG, I think is best position will be at the POINT - where he can better use his height as an advantage. He owns an impressive assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 3-to-1.

Nate Wolters – South Dakota St. 6’4” 190 Junior – Wolters is averaging 21 points, five rebounds, and six assists, giving NBA scouts a reason to visit South Dakota. He is right-handed with average to below average speed - which he makes up for with tremendous skill. He hits a variety of runners, floaters, and mid-range shots. ...Wolters is an excellent passer that runs the pick and roll well. His 2.82 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio is rock solid. ...80% free throw shooter (career). On December 18, 2011 - Wolters scored 34 points (with seven assists, and five boards) in Seattle versus good Washington guards. ...He could be better as a finisher with his left hand. ...He also plays tennis. See video of Wolters big game at Washington here:

Waiters is dynamic!
Dion Waiters – Syracuse 6’4” 215 Sophomore – Waiters is one of four Syracuse guards that can run the point. In our opinion – he is the most dynamic scorer among the group. He averages 13 points per game – despite playing only 24 minutes per contest. …He is a pesky defender that thrives at turning teams over and then finishing in transition. Waiters is far from a complete player. He still takes rushed, bad shots, and he doesn’t always share as much as I would like him to. He’s the kind of kid that has an aggressive scorer’s mentality, and if it’s close on the break – he will keep it for himself. …He is right handed. …Waiters was recently honored by as the National Sixth Man of the Year.

Michael Dixon – Missouri 6’1” 185 Junior – Missouri’s success can be directly attributed to the team’s over-abundance of talented point guards. Michael Dixon is one of three PGs that keep the ball moving and going into the hoop for the Tigers. Dixon is a confident kid that can beat you with his accurate shooting (36% 3-pt career) or his better than 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. Dixon is a career 85% free throw shooter that helps close out games.

Marcus Denmon – Missouri 6’3” 185 Senior - Denmon is an unselfish, right handed, guard with toughness. He gets 17.6 points per game and helps as that little guy that can rebound, pulling down 5.1 boards per game this season! He is quick.  ...Shoots 79% from the line (career), and his three-point shooting accuracy hovers above 40%. He can take you off the dribble with his super-quick first step - or he can bury the long range shot. He reacts quickly. ...Makes good cuts to the hoop. ...Improving rapidly. …Would like to become a basketball coach following his playing career. He owns a 1.69 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio (career). ...Suffered a fractured knee-cap as a freshman. 

Paul Pressey's son Phil is a playmaker!
Phil Pressey – Missouri 5’10” 175 Sophomore - The son of one of the original (if not THE original) NBA "point-forward" Paul Pressey (pictured), Phil inherited dad's ability to find the open-man. Phil is a "true point guard". ...He averages an impressive six assists per game while chipping in ten points per contest. He is a 76% free throw shooter than can also knock down the three-ball at a reasonable rate (.351 career). ...He is small at 5'10" and he will be vulnerable to being posted up. He could be better with his left hand around the basket. ...But overall the positives outweigh the negatives.

Kendall Marshall – North Carolina 6’4” 195 Sophomore - Please do not mistake what I am about to say for hyperbole. Kendall Marshall is the best passing Point Guard since Magic Johnson. Seriously. I mean that. This kid does not have Magic's complete game but from a standpoint of strictly judging court-vision, Marshall is THAT good. His look-ahead assists are routine, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is at 3-to-1 for his career. ...Marshall has some ability to drive and score but getting more points is something he needs to do to raise his level of play. He is left handed. …He uses the hesitation dribble to get into the lane. …Always looking for teammates. ...Keeps defenses somewhat honest w/ his .356 three-point percentage (career). …He is good at creating space with his body leanings. ...Former McDonald's All-American. 

Trey Burke – Michigan 5’11” 180 Freshman - Burke has a maturity that belies his freshman status - which propelled him to being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year (media). He averages 14.8 points, and 4.6 assists per game. …He runs the Wolverines. This season, Burke surpassed Gary Grant in setting a new freshman assists record at Michigan. …Burke has the ability to get into the paint and find his teammates. ...Cool, calm, and steady. ...He shoots 73% FT, 35% 3-PT.

Ragland can shoot it!
Joe Ragland – Wichita St. 6’0” 185 Senior - Ragland is an emotional lefty Point Guard that can create shots for himself and for teammates. His shooting numbers are outstanding. How many PG's do you know of that shoot 56%FG, 82%FT, and 50% from beyond the arc? That is what Ragland is doing this season!

Trevor Releford – Alabama 6’1” 180 Sophomore - Releford has quick hands and he is excellent in transition. He led the SEC in steals per game this season. …He averages 11 points per game and at this stage is actually more of a two-guard than he is a point-guard. Releford's assist-to-turnover ratio is nothing to write home about at 1.33-to-1, and he could stand to be in better shape. …He does knock down his free throws at 81% this season.

Aaron Craft – Ohio St. 6’2” 195 Sophomore - Aaron Craft is a unique player that is a personal favorite of ours. ...He is highly intelligent; an Academic All-American that can solve a Rubik's cube in about a minute, and ten seconds. He is also the best defensive point guard in college basketball. He is tenacious, relentless, and smothering when guarding an opponent. …He will stand-in and take a charge. His teammates call him the most motivated player on the Buckeyes roster. ...Craft was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year for 2011-12. ...He doesn't score much. And honestly - he doesn't need to with a team that has Jared Sullinger, William Buford, and DeShaun Thomas.

Ray McCallum – Detroit 6’1” 179 Sophomore - McCallum chose to stay home and play for his father Ray, - the head coach at University of Detroit. …McCallum was a McDonald's All-American that could have played at a larger, more prestigious school. …He was also a member of the World University Games team. ...He has big-time leaping ability to go with good quickness and speed. ...He has great body control. He needs to improve his 3-point shooting (27% career). ...His free throw stroke is at 72% for his two seasons combined at Detroit. ...Assist-to-turnover ratio stands at 1.81-to-1 (career).

Coop: MAC Tourney MVP
D.J. Cooper – Ohio 5’11” 165 Junior – Cooper is a young looking, left-handed kid that can hit a three point shot or score on the move. He owns a better than 2 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio and recently became Ohio's all-time leader in assists. ...He was the MAC Tournament MVP and a Cousy Award finalist. ...Named to the All-MAC First Team for the second year in a row last week. ...He has good speed. …Tied for 11th in the country in steals per game at 2.4 per outing. …Has the ability to go "coast-to-coast". ...75% free throw shooter (career). ...Cooper was the MAC Freshman of the Year. ...High school: Named the Chicago Sun-Times' Small School Player of the Year in 2009.

Lorenzo Brown – N.C. State 6’5” 189 Sophomore - A huge reason that NC State is relevant is the due to the play of Lorenzo Brown. While he needs to improve his shooting stroke, he is the dynamic kind of point guard that can get you points, rebounds, and assists in an efficient manner. He averages 12.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and 6.4 apg. ...He has a thin frame, and he must become a better defender. ...73% FT (career). ...He even has a little, back-to-the-basket post game as well.

Just under the cut: Brian Voelkel - Vermont 6’6” 210 Sophomore. / Anthony Marshall – UNLV 6’3” 200 Junior.

Also considered: Casper Ware - Long Beach St., Kerron Johnson – Belmont, Tu Holloway – Xavier, Ryan Boatright – Connecticut, Kevin Pangos – Gonzaga, Shabazz Napier – Connecticut, Tyshawn Taylor – Kansas, Jordan Taylor – Wisconsin, and Peyton Siva – Louisville.

Coming next: Our look at the Shooting Guards to watch in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. 

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