Tag Archives: Point guard

Ranking the Pac-12 back courts

This was no easy task. Back courts across the Pac-12 are loaded this season and a major reason why the Pac is Back. Thus, not coincidentally, this list most closely resembles how I think the conference will shake out. There are big guards and small guards and quick guards and shooters. Veterans and pups. I’d pit this group against any in the country. Alas, they’re just going to pick on each other like Miami Dolphins.

  1. Oregon – Sure the Ducks just lost Dominic Artis to entrepreneurship, but they replace him with the 2013 Pac-12 Tournament MVP. Oregon has guard depth as deep as this guy is drunk. Joseph Young (18ppg), Damyean Dotson (11ppg), Jason Calliste (11ppg), Johnathan Loyd (5ppg), Dominic Artis (9ppg). [somewhere Mike Moser smiles].
  2. Arizona – You can try and tell me that TJ McConnell hasn’t played at the highest level but I’m not about to knock him for that. I’ve watched mid-major talent the last four years in the Pac-12. I know what good looks like when I see it. He’s joined by the ever improving Nick Johnson with Jordin Mayes backing each of them up. I like these pieces.
  3. Colorado – Came very close to being second on this list. While Dinwiddie vs. McConnell is not a draw (Mayor wins out), Askia Booker’s propensity to shoot and to pull up and to fire as compared to everything Nick Johnson does….well I’m giving the collective nod to the Cats. But man, Spencer Dinwiddie is good.
  4. ASU – This might be too low of a ranking for the Devils. Carson is one of the nation’s best and the addition of Jermaine Marshall is an upgrade over the departed Evan Gordon. Did I mention Jahii Carson is good?
  5. California – Aside from Loyd (who will be filling in for Artis) Cobbs is the first senior to make this list (and I’m not counting Marshall, either). He’s joined by Jabari Bird, a McDonald’s AA who isn’t getting near the love he might deserve because of Commissioner (Aaron) Gordon. But the wildcard here is Ty Wallace who I think could have a monster year for the Bears.
  6. Washington – I’ve heard mixed reviews on Nigel Williams-Goss and that’s OK. Another burger All-American, he’s an incoming freshman so there’s going to be equal parts question marks and hype. I get it. But CJ Wilcox. CJ Wilcox. CJ Wilcox. Perhaps the best shooter in the conference is now a senior and very well could have the dynamic, distributing PG to get him even more touches in ideal spots. The rules changes should also help to get him even more open looks. BOMBS AWAY. (Andrew Andrews mention)
  7. UCLA – Their point guard is 6’9″ and goes by the name of slow-mo. That would seem inauspicious but Kyle Anderson is one unique talent. The Bruins are going to miss LD2 but Anderson’s play making and size will make UCLA a tough out. Oh, and that Jordan Adams kid is my favorite.
  8. Stanford – Last year I was very high on the prospects of Chasson Randle who I loved watching slash into the lane and get buckets. He could shoot it, too. His trajectory plateaued last season and he hit a cold streak from the field (44% from 3FG to 36%). This came inopportunely at the same time as Aaron Bright’s cold spell (44% from 3FG to 32%). So what’s the norm, I ask?
  9. Oregon State – Roberto Nelson is a fine player who can score with anyone in this conference. It appears, however, that he’s a one man show with Ahmad Starks (who was really high on him anyways?) departed. Challe Barton will get a crack at PG duties and there’s one more thing I want to mention: Malcolm Duvivier. Why you might ask? Because he’s definitively not Andrew Wiggins. But he is a Canadian prep star who reclassified from 2014 to 2013 to play American College Basketball. Ya hoser.
  10. Washington State – I’m a sucker for veterans – perhaps above talent? No – and the Cougars, for whatever their season will become, feature DaVonte Lacy and Royce Woolridge. These two are nice players for Ken Bone, adding to the guard depth of the conference more than wins for WSU.
  11. USC – JT Terrell should benefit greatly from Dunk City as he’s an athletic guard who wants to get up and down the floor. Or at least get his shots up. Additionally Pe’Shon Howard is a nice pickup for ball handling duties as Enfield’s offense has a tendency for turnovers.
  12. Utah – I’m relatively high on Brandon Taylor. I liked his work down the stretch for the Utes but he’s a sophomore guard with little experience leading a team full of even less experience. His learning curve is steep and I wish him luck swimming in the deep end.

Previewing the point guards: Pac-12 South

As I mentioned yesterday, point guard is an important position. Heading into the 2011-12 season there’s only one lead guard in the Pac-12 with a proven track record of success – Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez. Taking a deeper look at the league’s point guards, we learn that they’re either experienced and light on talent, or young with a heavy burden of proof.

The floor generals of the Pac-12 south:

Arizona: Outbound is Momo Jones by way of surprising transfer. Inbound is freshman Josiah Turner by way of Sacramento. He’s a big, strong, play making point guard whose lone fault appears to be an inconsistent jumper. He arrives in Tucson with lofty expectations. Already there’s NBA buzz but Sean Miller is making sure his talented guard stays grounded and focused on the season at hand. And Turner agrees. “I just let it fly by me,” he says when asked about the NBA hype and season’s expectations. NBA aside, the 6’3” point guard has a lot to accomplish in Tucson if the Wildcats expect to repeat any semblance of last season’s success. Also, don’t sleep on Jordin Mayes. The sophomore played well in a backup role one year ago and has put on significant size this off season. His improved strength should translate to playing time and tougher defense and the Wildcats should benefit from his steady shooting (45% from distance).

Arizona State: Want to talk uncertainty? If Jahii Carson – a talented freshman – doesn’t qualify with the NCAA this season, not only are the Sun Devils out a good freshman, they’re going to rely on a junior college transfer (by way of Iowa State) who shot a cool 27% and committed 59 turnovers in 29 games during his one season with the Cyclones. Chris Colvin is his name and Herb Sendek’s team – who often rely heavily on their floor general – will likely need him to play better than 2 TO/game whether Carson is available or not. Some accounts have Colvin playing well in practice and scrimmages to date which is a good sign for the senior-less Sun Devils. Also, if you’ve never seen the bouncy, 5’10” Carson in a mixtape, you’re welcome.

Colorado: Welcome to the Pac-12! Now give your best player to the NBA. The Buffs will have the steady Nate Tomlinson, a senior, at the point. He’s not going to light up a stat line – he scored 10 or more points just once last season – but he’s smart, confident, and takes care of the basketball. He’ll share time in the backcourt with Shannon Sharpe, a redshirt sophomore, whose game is very similar to that of Tomlinson. Together, they should make up a ball control monster – they averaged just 1.6 turnovers per game combined last year – befitting coach Tad Boyle’s guard centric play. Ultimately, the Buffs’ backcourt should be experience heavy while a little light on talent.

Utah: It could be a rough one for the Utes. They return a senior point guard, Josh Watkins, who managed to shoot 26% from three and turn the ball over three-and-a-half times a game last season. That said, he can score a bit (14 ppg) and as one of four returning players, he certainly will be relied upon as a leader. With Utah, in their double inaugural season (Pac-12 and welcoming new coach, Larry Krystkowiak), there’s a lot more to discuss than whether or not they have a veteran point guard. After all, they bring on thirteen new players. Thirteen! It should be interesting to see what Krystkowiak can do with all things new in Salt Lake.

USC: Jio Fontan is a very good basketball player. Too bad he won’t be playing basketball this season. Fontan’s injured knee is a major blow to the Trojans as the senior was expected to anchor an otherwise youthful team. Insert sophomore Maurice Jones, a talented scorer but not all together pure point guard. Kevin O’Neil teams are often point guard-centric and Jones’ ability to facilitate USC’s pro-style, set play offense will likely dictate much of the Trojans’ success. He played the position well in Fontan’s absence last season, averaging 12 points and 4 assists per game. An injury depleted lineup will ask a lot of the sophomore but his brief body of work as USC’s PG demonstrates the Trojans could be in good hands.

UCLA: Arguably the most important position in the entire conference – point guard of the 2011-12 UCLA Bruins – it is my belief that Lazeric Jones holds the keys to a very expensive car. The question is how good of a driver is Jones? If he’s drinking-milk-in-Indy-good, the Bruins are going to turn heads. With the front court they have, a solid, Ben Howland possession guard, could go a long way in feeding a sizable Bruin squad. If he drives like most LA drivers and continues on his enigmatic, stop-and-go path, well so too will UCLA. The senior had an up-and-down junior year, flashing brilliance and cluelessness while also battling injury, but this year he will be depended upon heavily. The Bruins’ backcourt is inexperienced (two new players) and depleted (two early departures and a suspension) so Jones will get the majority of minutes. Also worth keeping an eye on: can the fiery Jones be an effective leader? This team has some attitude issues (Josh Smith, Reeves Nelson) and Jones needs to be the stabilizing force both on and off the court.