At this juncture in the recruiting cycle, we begin to finalize our rankings, position by position, of the best high school players in the USA. Below, we’ll look in-depth at the point guard position, remembering the old basketball adage that the most difficult positions for college teams to fill effectively - as well as the most important positions for on-court success - are point guard and center. We’ll save the centers for two weeks from now and focus here on the point guards.
Listed below this article are our present rankings of the best 20 high school point guards, regardless of class. You likely will immediately notice that listed number one is 6-5 Franklin (OH) High star Luke Kennard (who?), a relatively little known, precocious, small-school sophomore (class of 2015) who earned well-deserved accolades for his dynamic performances in late December at the prestigious Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach (S.C.). Along with 14 seniors, five additional underclass point guards are on our list of 20, including three juniors (two in the top five) and two more sophomores.
Kennard amassed 33 points, 14 rebounds and four assists, and then 43 points, nine boards and three assists in the two games we saw him play at Myrtle Beach. His play brought to mind comparisons with two of the very best high school point guards we’ve ever scouted, Pete Maravich and Randy Livingston. Frankly, if our comparisons are even close to accurate, we (and everyone else) SHOULD rank Kennard number one at this position.
While there was, and could be, only one Pistol Pete, Kennard has much the same flair with the ball, similar downtown shooting range and passing vision, and the ability to find a way to score despite heavy traffic. Physically, however, Kennard possesses the broad shoulders, muscular chest, a knack for rebounding and much of the run-jump athleticism that Livingston had prior to suffering multiple knee injuries slowed his career.
Most of our readers probably expected us to rank Texas senior Andrew Harrison (2) number one among point guards. But while we certainly admire his strength, physicality, court vision, ability to finish drives, and hard-nosed defense, we have never seen him really dominate a game when facing stiff competition. Regardless, the Kentucky signee merits the top spot among point guards in the class of 2013, and his twin brother Aaron (also headed to Lexington) is equally esteemed among the nation’s senior wing guards.
The two senior point guards who are closest to Andrew Harrison in potential are the true jets of 2013, Floridian Kasey Hill (3) and Virginian Anthony “Cat” Barber (6). Both are transition-oriented, slashing drivers/finishers with much improved three-point strokes and the ability on defense to hawk the ball and force turnovers. We expect them to wind up excelling at Florida and N.C. State respectively, before eventually moving on to the NBA.
At this point, the two premier junior point guards (2014) appear to be Minnesotan Tyus Jones (4) and another Florida product, Joel Berry (5). Jones is a good (albeit not great) athlete with exceptional ball skills, perimeter shooting ability, and turnover-proof fundamentals and decision-making. His on-court leadership is particularly admirable. Berry also is an intelligent player, plus he’s a swift road-runner who has similar athletic attributes to Barber. Note that Roy Williams is recruiting Berry diligently for North Carolina, even though the Tar Heels already have freshman Marcus Paige starting at point guard and 2013 prep senior Nate Britt (11), an ambidextrous finisher, as a signee. Meanwhile, Mike Krzyzewski has Duke very strongly in the picture for Jones.
Future ACC members Syracuse and Notre Dame also have snared prime point guards from the current high school senior class, with the Orange corralling Tyler Ennis (7) from New Jersey, and the Irish securing in-state standout Demetrius Jackson (12). Ennis is both a terrific three-point jump shooter and the possessor of impeccable playmaking fundamentals, although he’s not as quick as several of the other elite floor leaders. In contrast, Jackson is (like Hill, Barber, Jones and Berry) a speed demon who excels in pushing the ball down-court, finding open teammates, and playing stifling defense.
Junior point guard Shelton Mitchell (10) is a rapidly improving southpaw who proved to us at the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational Tournament in Raleigh that he can penetrate versus even the quickest defenders, including Barber. Mitchell, a Waxhaw (N.C.) Cuthbertson product, is headed next year to Wake Forest, another school that currently has a freshman point guard starter in Codi Miller-McIntyre.
Maryland has signed a point guard on this list, grabbing No. 18 Roddy Peters.
Let’s also mention a pair of high-scoring senior mini-mites who both have NBA three-point range and no conscience concerning shot selection. We’re referring to 5-7 Aquille Carr, a Seton Hall verbal commitment from Maryland who’s injured right now, and 5-8 Oklahoman Stevie Clark, who has cast his lot with Oklahoma State. Neither resembles a “pure” point guard, but that is the position they’ll have to play in college.
Finally, keep an eye on 6-5 Palmetto State sophomore point guard Perry “P.J.” Dozier, Jr. (20). He didn’t really shine when we watched him play last month, but he possesses considerable potential as a floor general. His father (Perry, Sr.), is his high school coach, and both his father and uncle (Terry) played for South Carolina. P.J. is attracting attention from the Gamecocks and UNC, among others.
If player has committed or signed, his college is listed in all caps.