Posted by Dan Wolken
Our friend Gary Parrish (CBS Sports) is releasing his annual college basketball position rankings this week, and in Monday’s installment, he pegged Tigers freshman Derrick Rose as the No. 1 point/combo guard in the nation. This did not surprise me. Gary loves his freshmen unconditionally. My natural instinct is to be more cautious projecting somebody who has never played a college game.
It’s a debate we’ve gone back-and-forth on a little bit in the past, and I accept his logic as completely sound. Just look at last year. By the end of the NCAA Tournament, is there anybody in the country who wouldn’t have taken Ohio State’s Mike Conley as their point guard? But my logic is sound too. If we were playing Elite Eight games tomorrow, who would you pick as your point guard? Derrick Rose or Michigan State senior Drew Neitzel? I don’t think it’s that tough of a call. I’d take Neitzel in a heartbeat. Of course, we’re not playing Elite Eight games tomorrow, and I commend Gary for basing his rankings on end-of-year projections rather than what we know right now.
But no matter how you evaluate Rose, Parrish’s ranking is a heavy heap of expectation. Is it fair, given that Rose still doesn’t know much of the Tigers’ offense and doesn’t make very many shots? Hard to say. But let’s be clear: Rose is a special, special athlete. I talked a lot about it in my story Sunday . As fast and athletic as Memphis is top to bottom, Rose is just faster and more athletic than everybody else. He can make plays no one else can make. And because of that, most people I talk to assume that Rose will be Memphis’ best player this season. He might be. But when my ballot comes for Conference USA player of the year, Rose won’t get my vote. Not because he’s a freshman, but because until proven otherwise, Chris Douglas-Roberts is the guy who makes the Tigers what they are.
Posted Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007 at 2:18 pm