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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Future point guards run deep at McDonald's All-American Game

The Commercial Appeal
By Dan Wolken
Posted March 31, 2010 at midnight

favorites all season for national player of the year, but Kentucky was upset in the Elite Eight. Kansas, led by senior Sherron Collins, got knocked out by Northern Iowa before the Sweet 16.

It leaves us with a Final Four including Michigan State, whose starting point guard Kalin Lucas tore his Achilles in the second round, and West Virginia, whose point guard Truck Bryant broke his foot earlier in the tournament.

Butler's point guard, Ronald Nored, is a virtual unknown nationally, and Duke's Jon Scheyer is really a shooting guard who converted last season.

The teams that make deep runs in March, however, typically have top-level point guards, and it would not be a surprise to see one or more of this year's crop playing in next year's Final Four in Houston.

That's the goal for Jackson, who figures to have the ball from Day 1 at Memphis with the responsibility of facilitating offense for the litany of scorers like Will Barton, Wesley Witherspoon, Angel Garcia and possibly .

"The way I feel, I can score at any time," Jackson said. "If our team needs a bucket, I can go get it. If my man is wide open, I've got to make that pass. I just play basketball. You can't try to put pressure on yourself to be something you're not. If you're a scorer, you have to score. Like Allen Iverson; he got to the league off being a scorer and creating. You have to just attack. You can't worry about what all these people want to say about what you can do good. You know what you can do good.

"Will Barton knows I can score; he knows I can pass it. Whoever's hot, I'm going to feed the hot man. I'm not trying to out-shine anyone."

In a recruiting class with so many exciting and athletic guards, Jackson said he believes he and Duke signee Kyrie Irving are the only pure point guards at the McDonald's Game. But the rest of the crop each offers something different.

"Brandon Knight is probably an NBA point and a college (shooting guard)," Telep said. "You have the best passer in Kendall Marshall, the guy who can attack the rim whenever he wants in Josh Selby and Cory Joseph who probably is the best mix and balance of all of those, and Ray McCallum is right there with him. A lot of these guys are proven winners.

"When you look at college basketball next year, look at the winning resumes these guys bring with them to college. Not just talent and potential but winning. It's a big-time group of guys."

It's unlikely the country will actually get to see the point guard skills in this class until next season; tonight, after all, is an all-star game. But as a showcase for the kind of talent that will enter college basketball this fall -- and, with the exception of Knight and Selby, probably stay for more than a year -- it doesn't get any better.

"Some approach it with a mentality to get in the paint every single time," Knight said. "Some approach it with the thought that, 'I'm going to shoot it coming off a screen every time.' We have some slashers, jumpers. It depends on how each point guard approaches how they do what they do."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

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