Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Point Guards to Watch in the 2013 NCAA Tournament

In any basketball contest - the player who handles the ball the most is a crucial component. Here is a look at the 15 point guards in the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament that we will be watching the closest from an NBA scouting perspective...

Michael Carter Williams - Syracuse. Sophomore. 6'5" 176 ...Carter-Williams boasts a 2.36-to-1 assist to-turnover ratio which is not often seen in a dynamic, young guard. He is long, and lean and he has terrific explosion in his decisive moves on the court. His length makes him a tough match up for smaller point guards. Carter-Williams is still learning the value of shot selection. His career field goal percentage is just 39%. He helps his team on the boards, and he can create his own shot off the dribble. ...Carter-Williams has a "red-flag" for being caught shoplifting during his stay in Syracuse (Read this). He was a 2011 McDonald's All-American. I think he has the highest ceiling of any point guard in the Tournament. 

Nate Wolters - South Dakota St. Senior. 6'4" 190. ..."Nater's Gonna Nate". That is the slogan for Nate Wolters who seems to always find a way to score, and hit big shots. Wolters - the Summit League Player of the Year, and MVP of their conference tournament, is a complete player that fills the stat sheet with whatever his team needs. He often looks to score which led to him pumping in a Division-1 best, 53 points in a game this season (vs. IPFW). At 6'4", Wolters is usually bigger than the opposing point guard and he uses his gym-rat senses to do damage. ...I project Wolters as a low-tier starter in the NBA. 

Trey Burke - Michigan. Sophomore. 5'11" 180. ...The best in the college game at running a team (in my opinion) is Trey Burke. He is a diminutive yet highly confident and skilled point guard. While not blessed with supreme athleticism or length, Burke closes the gap on the deficiencies with his high basketball I.Q., and leadership ability. Burke has an excellent 2.42-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and he can also put the ball in the basket. He averages 19.2 points per game. Sports Illustrated named Burke their National Player of the Year for 2012-13. 
Jalan West is mostly unheralded. 

Jalan West - Northwestern St. Freshman. 5'10" 178. ...The Southland Conference Freshman of the Year is one of two main reasons (DeQuan Hicks, the other), why Northwestern State is in the "big dance". West served up a gaudy 2.78-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio this season while making 83% of his foul shots, and leading his conference in steals. He was a red-shirt last season. 

Quinn Cook - Duke. Sophomore. 6'1" 175. ...Cook stepped up his offensive game this season and it helped make Duke a better team. Cook averaged 12 points and five assists in 2012-13 and maintained his outstanding 2.5-to-1 career assist-to-turnover ratio. He is solid not spectacular. I view him as a low-tier starter or dependable back-up point guard in the NBA whenever he finishes his NCAA career. 

Khalif Wyatt - Temple. Senior. 6'4" 215. ...Nobody in college basketball has as much "junk" in his game as Khalif Wyatt. He is the 2012-13 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Wyatt is a below-the-rim, savvy, crafty, skilled, and determined point guard that can score in a variety of ways. Wyatt hits circus shots with regularity. He improved his scoring average with each season at Temple, now hitting for 19.8 points per game. 

Lorenzo Brown - N.C. St. Junior. 6'5" 189. ...I've seen Lorenzo Brown dominate a game with his vision and court-sense. I've also seen Lorenzo Brown look disinterested and lazy. This season, his scoring, and rebounding are down and his turnovers are up. He enters the NCAA tournament having made just five of his last 25 field goal attempts. While most of that sounds negative, Brown has the tools to "flip the switch" and be brilliant. Due to his inconsistency - I view him as an NBA back-up at best. 

Weber is a defensive force.
Briante Weber - VCU. Sophomore. 6'3" 160. ...The Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year is a certified pest. He averaged 2.8 steals per game in VCU's "havoc" defense. He only scores five points per game but his ability to make opponents uncomfortable is so strong that he deserves to be mentioned among the best point guards in the tournament. 

Hugh Greenwood - New Mexico. Sophomore. 6'3" 205. ...Greenwood is an Australian with experience as an international player. He starred on the Australian Under-19 team at the FIBA World Championships in Latvia in 2011, showing a high hoops IQ. He has a nice jumper and he is proficient as a three-point shooter (35% 3-pt). 

Aaron Craft - Ohio St. Junior. 6'2" 195. ...I started "scouting" college basketball in 1999. Since then - a small handful of players have passed through the NCAA ranks as "great defenders". I would put Aaron Craft at the top of that list alongside the likes of Shane Battier, Chris Singleton, and Kenyon Martin. Craft is full of energy. It is not unusual for him to play the entire 40-minute game. He is relentless on defense. He makes life miserable for opposing point guards, and as long as Craft is in the game, Ohio State has a chance to win. 

Shane Larkin - Miami. Sophomore. 5'11" 176. ...Larkin is the son of Hall of Fame shortstop, Barry Larkin.  Shane was a first team All-ACC selection this season due to his complete game. He is especially hard to stop on dribble penetration. He has tremendous quickness, and ability to turn the corner. Shane is only limited by his 5'11" size - which makes him a target of bigger guards. 

Rasheed Sulaimon - Duke. Freshman. 6'3" 175. ...Sulaimon actually plays shooting guard at Duke but he is a combo-guard that will likely lean toward the point position in the NBA. The McDonald's All-American is mature beyond his years. He shoots the ball well (81% FT, 37% 3-pt), while maintaining a solid assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5-to-1. He scored 17 points in the second half of a Duke come from behind win over Ohio St. in late November. 

Phil Pressey - Missouri. Junior. 5'10" 168. ...The best vision in college hoops this season belongs to Phil Pressey. He is a playmaker's playmaker. His assist-to-turnover ratio is better than two-to-one despite the fact that he will "swing for fences" with spectacular passes. He ranks eighth in the nation in assists per game (7.1). He is fun to watch. 

Anthony Marshall - UNLV. Senior. 6'3" 200. ...Playing in his fourth straight NCAA Tournament, Anthony Marshall is as experienced as a point guard can be at this level. He plays the game at NBA speed. He is an instinctive player that could definitely tighten up his decision making and free throw shooting (67% FT). But Marshall has some unteachable intangibles in my opinion. He is tough-minded and not afraid to make a play.  

Kerron Johnson - Belmont. Senior. 6'1" 175. ...Johnson is in the "big dance" for the third consecutive season as the floor general of the Bruins. He was the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament MVP. He hustles, he runs his team, and he scores 13 points per game. 

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