You hear it from scouts all the time, you read it on the internet whenever rankings are updated and you may even hear it at the water cooler at work — the class of 2012 has the weakest group of guards in recent memory, especially when you look at the point guards. However, I’m here to tell you that this collection of floor generals is a lot better than people think.
One big reason that these rising seniors aren’t given their due credit is because their isn’t an elite scorer at the point guard position. Some recent examples of great scorers include John Wall, Brandon Knight and Brandon Jennings. Although prospects like Kevin Ferrell (#18 — Indiana) and Ryan Arcidiacono (#29 — Villanova) are good scorers, most of the elite floor generals have the pass-first mentality and act as extensions of their coaches.
For example, think of Marcus Paige (#16 — North Carolina). Although he does have a very nice jump shot and is a good scorer he is a terrific passer and has excellent court vision. He also has the ability to anticipate when his teammates will be open before they are and always makes intelligent decisions. You can also take a look at L.J. Rose (#20), who is a pure point guard that has great floor vision and excellent passing abilities. He isn’t the quickest or fastest guard but he uses his size well and has a high basketball IQ.
Another unique prospect in the class of 2012 is Kyle Anderson (#22). Anderson stands at a legitimate six-foot-seven and is the most versatile player in the class of 2012. Although he has the size of a small or power forward, Anderson has played point guard all of his life and has great court vision and passing skills. He consistently makes smart decisions and has a very high basketball-IQ. He also has the ability to consistently get in the lane because he uses his size and strength to get by defenders. Anderson utilizes a few different moves on the perimeter to create separation as well such as his effective cross-over. The high school ranks hasn’t seen a point guard this unique since former Kentucky wing and potential 2011 draft pick DeAndre Liggins was the last guy considered a “point forward” who stood at six-foot-six back in 2008.
Another reason this group of floor generals is underrated is because there are quite a few point guards who are individually underrated. Take for example D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (#32) and J-Mychal Reese (#38), both have been playing well throughout the entire summer and kept up their improving play at the NBPA Top 100 Camp last week. Smith-Rivera is making the transition from the two guard to the point since that’s what colleges are recruiting him as and has gone through a pretty smooth transformation. Speaking of smooth, that’s how you can describe Reese’s entire game. Reese looks effortless in everything he does and can do it all on the offensive end because he is able to create scoring opportunities for himself or his teammates. He has a pure jump shot and consistently drives by opponents but also makes impressive passes.
Another reason that this year’s class is underrated is because of how good the big men are. There hasn’t been a class this dominated by big men in recent history and hasn’t had as many elite interior players. When guys like power forward Brandon Ashley (#4) and centers such as DaJuan Coleman (#5) and Kaleb Tarczewski (#6) aren’t one of the top three big men in the country, you know you have depth as well as talent.
However, despite the fact that this class is underrated because of their pass-first mentality, the fact that the big men overshadow them and several individual point guards are underrated themselves, this class is weaker than previous ones and isn’t too strong of a position for the class of 2012.
All photos courtesy of National Recruiting Spotlight’s photographer, Daryl Paunil.