The point guard position, which is arguably the most important on the basketball court, requires unique talent and a high basketball IQ. This is the one position that requires a player to think at all times. Point guard has always been compared to the Quarterback in football and rightly so. A great point guard is aware of all that is happening around him throughout the entire game; he must take a giant snapshot of the court each possession both offensively and defensively ready to lead his team.
This position requires a player capable of starting the break in offensive transition, having the court vision to make the pass, strong ball handling to value each possession, the ability to initiate and direct his team's offense and the ability to score when needed. The intangibles are endless, but the best points display mental toughness, leadership skills and excellent decision-making. With the ball in their hands for a majority of the game, the point guard is a true extension of the coach on the floor.
When breaking down the position it's evident that there are different types of point guards with a variety of talents. Over the years, I have had the privilege to recruit, develop, and coach some outstanding point guards in college basketball. It no coincidence that they led our teams to many wins and championships! Some names of note who I've worked with include: Howard Eisley, the consummate point guard who led his Boston College team to the Elite Eight; James "Scoonie" Penn, a playmaking point guard who took his team to the Final Four; Brent Darby and Brian Brown, both of whom were big time scoring point guards for Ohio State who won Big Ten titles; and Deshaun Wood, a dynamic, scoring point who was the Horizon League Player of the Year and guided Wright State University to an NCAA bid.
When you evaluate this position correctly and land a great one, it truly can make the difference on your program!
What we look for: This type of point guard who needs the ball in his hands to standout. They think score first and pass second. Always putting pressure on the defense with their ability to go coast to coast in a few dribbles and finish at the rim. They can drive the lane and score or take the contact and get to the free-throw line. Scoring point guards know that a middle game is important before the help defense arrives, so they show their pull-up jumper or floater. Shooting open 3's to stretch the defense makes them even more dangerous in transition or in the pick-and-roll game. Great scoring points are usually capable of hitting the open man as they get to the basket.
1. John Wall (Raleigh, N.C./
Word of God Christian Academy)
Wall has the size, exceptional speed with the ball and athleticism to score at will. No one in the country initiates the fast break with the ball in their hands fasters than he does. When he gets the defensive rebound, he goes coast to coast in seconds using a high speed dribble, blazing past the defensive transition and finishing with an explosive dunk. His ability to attack the defense with either hand equally well is what makes him so potent. When he drives, Wall displays good peripheral vision to find the open man. In the half court, he gets in the lane with ankle-breaking dribble moves (inside out, cross-over) that keep the defender lost or backing up. Wall's a streaky 3-point shooter who needs to get consistent behind the arc. When he learns play with all his talent while being an extension of the coach on the floor this young man will flourish.
2. Peyton Siva (Seattle/Franklin)
At 5-11, he's undersized, but Siva, who is headed to Louisville, is a big-time scorer, who can put the ball in the basket by blowing by defenders with solid body control, speed and quickness. Don't be surprised if you see this exceptional athlete above the rim finishing. Siva loves the transition game; he's very tough to stop when he receives the ball on the outlet. He pushes it in the open floor with tremendous speed and quickness or looks to pass ahead. In the half court, he easily gets in the paint and makes the drop-off pass to the post or kicks it out to the open man behind the arc. He has displayed good decision-making on pick-and-rolls; Siva knows when to hit the screener or knock down the jumper when the defender backs off or goes under the screen. When his 3-point shot is going in, it is over for his opponents. Siva sometimes tries too much for the spectacular play when the simple one will work. As he learns the game more from the point guard position Siva will be special.
3. Elijah Johnson (Las Vegas/
Johnson is one of the most explosive guards in the country. He is known for putting points on the board quickly. When he gets in the lane from his dribble penetration, he can make spectacular finishes with either hand. He thinks score more than pass because he knows he can get his own shot with his outstanding athletic ability. He has shown the mentality to dish out assist from his penetration. But Johnson must develop a better understanding of how to be a total point guard. He gets great elevation on his jumper although it's streaky. With a strong desire to increase his basketball I.Q. along with a consistent jumper this young star has a ton of potential.
What we look for: The role of the point guard goes well beyond scoring points. Some times, the most effective point guards get their teammates involved. These players have the mind set that they are creating scoring opportunities for the players around them above all else. In transition, these players look to push the ball and will pull it out if the numbers aren't right. These playmaking points know how to run the offense, hit the scoring cutter, or find the man off the screen for the open jumper. On their penetration these players read their defender, the helper and the defensive rotation before making the play. These players are capable of breaking pressure in the backcourt with their strong ballhandling abilities, court vision and confidence to find the open man. Creating and distributing is what our best passers are all about.
1. Maalik Wayns (Philadelphia/
This quick, strong playmaker is very adept at creating for himself and his teammates. Wayns, who is committed to Villanova, can push the ball in transition and score himself or draw the defender and dish out the dime. In the half court, he changes speed with his dribble, which makes him even harder to guard. If you pressure him, he will put you on his hip and carry him into the lane, where he will dish or score. Wayns always exhibits court vision to hit a scoring cutter or open shooter. On his penetration he must develop a middle game. This young man is as competitive as they come and is developing into one of the better point guards in the country.
2. Tommy Mason-Griffin (Houston/
The Oklahoma-bound Mason-Griffin is a strong point guard who likes to create and distribute, but he can also put the ball in the hole. He likes to have the ball in his hands and is always ready to use his between the legs cross-over dribble to get by defenders. He's great at reading the help defense and making pin-point passes that leads to buckets. Mason-Griffin likes to involve his teammates but has the skills to get it going himself and take over a game with his scoring. This kid is a catalyst who is all business on the floor.
3. Lorenzo Brown (Roswell, Ga./
Brown is a point guard who has a good basketball I.Q; he demonstrates the ability to get to the basket while finding open teammates for the drop-off or kick-out pass. He helps his team on the glass by rebounding down with his size and leading the break. Brown, who has committed to NC State, shows quickness with his dribble moves with his head up ready to make a play. He is a very gifted player who has a great upside.
What we look for: This type of point guard is a floor general always in control of himself displaying a high IQ and a complete awareness of the elements during a game. He shows poise and composure while carrying the burden of executing the coaches game plan, making those around him better and exhibiting the talent to score when the opportunity presents itself. He is not afraid to make a mistake because he knows what is expected of him and he expects more from himself. These players help their teams win with or without the ball in their hands. Trust and leadership define this category.
1. Abdul Gaddy (Tacoma, Wash./
Bellarmine Preparatory School)
Gaddy, an Arizona verbal, is a true pass-first point guard who has the ability score anytime his team needs a basket. But there is so much more to this complete basketball player. His court savvy is uncanny as he displays with each possession. He runs the team perfectly, demonstrates the ability to score in a pick-and-roll game and understands the proper passing angles to hit the screener on the pick and pop. He's a winner that makes everyone else better while he keeps improving.
2. G.J. Vilarino (McKinney, Texas)
This left-handed point guard can do it all. In transition, he really pushes the ball and finishes with speed to the rim. He is always probing the defense and looking for ways to make something happen. Vilarino, who is committed to Kentucky, makes good decisions, and he shows excellent court vision and the talent to hand out assist. At this time, he is an average shooter. But with his outstanding work ethic and competitiveness, that will all change soon. The weight room is a must to enhance his overall defense and ability to score even more effectively in the lane. He cares about winning and it shows in his effort and his results.
3. A.J. Walton (Little Rock, Ark./Hall)
This young man epitomizes what a consummate point guard is with his infectious energy and superb leadership qualities. Walton, a Baylor commit, can shoot it from behind the arc with accuracy and drive to the basket displaying a second gear of speed as he explodes past defenders. Players enjoy playing with him because he is unselfish and approaches the game with great passion. He has mastered the position of point guard.
Paul Biancardi, who spent 2007-08 as an assistant coach on Rick Majerus' staff at Saint Louis, is the sole national recruiting director for ESPN Scouts Inc. He has 18 years of coaching experience at the Division I level. He was an assistant at Boston University, Boston College and Ohio State before becoming the head coach at Wright State, where he earned Horizon League Coach of the Year honors in the 2003-04 season.