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SoCalHoops High School News

Class Of 2003 PGs: SCH's Fall Post-Summer,
Pre-Season Top Players--(Aug. 30, 2000)

It's time for SoCalHoops' annual post-summer, pre-season fall list of "Top Players in SoCal" at each position in each class. The first group we're going to focus on is the class of 2003's point guards. We've selected the top 30 guys we know about in the class at this position. We've broken them down into two groups, (Top 10, and Next Top 20), but we have not used numerical rankings. Maybe we should, and maybe someday we will, but for now we haven't used numbers to rank these guys. If you want an understanding of why we don't, it follows at the bottom of the list (we've changed the format this year to place our long-winded stuff at the bottom--hey, we're the first to admit no one really reads it anyway--, so now you can just get right to the list and skip all those boring words. . . but we caution anyone reading the list:   Look at the text which follows to really understand what you're looking at and why we've listed the players in the way we have.  If you don't read it, please don't come crying to us about misconceptions you have about what we're trying to do with these lists).

These are the guys we believe have shown a lot of promise within the current rising-sophomore class at the point guard position. If we've left a player off the list, it may or may not be an oversight, but if you think someone deserves to be on the list who isn't,  just let us know by sending an e-mail

SoCalHoops Top 10 Point Guard Prospects--Class of 2003

Kevin Bell, Jr.   5'-8" So PG   Fairfax
Derrick Clark    6'-0" So. PG    Leuzinger
Shaun Davis   5'-9" So. PG   S.D. Lincoln
Kalief Ford   6'-0"  So. PG   Diamond Bar
Isaiah Freeman   5'-9" So. PG   LB Poly
Corey Miller   6'-0" So. PG   Villa Park
Mingus Murray   5'-9" So. PG   Dominguez
Rayshawn Reed   5'-11" So. PG   Inglewood
Deon Simpson 5'-8"So.PG Santiago
Marcus Williams   5'-10" So. PG Crenshaw

SoCalHoops Next Top 20 Point Guard Prospects--Class of 2003

Bryan Burrell   5'-11" So. PG   Ontario
Ryan Foresta   5'-6" So. PG   Loyola
Ryan Gaeto   5'-10" So. PG/G   Rancho Bernardo
Drew Gibson   5'-11" So.  PG   Dorsey
Dominic Harris   5'-7" So. PG   Antelope Valley
Rafik Henderson 5'-10" So. PG   S.D.Horizon
Billy Hoffman   5'-11" So. PG   La Canada
Jerome Ireland 5'-10" So. PG   Fresno Hoover
Jeremy Jackson 5'-9" So. PG   Santa Barbara
Jamal Kinney 6'-1" So. PG   LB Jordan
Jonathan Lindsey 6'-0" So. F/G   Rowland Heights
Robert Locke 6'-0" So. PG   Campbell Hall
Christopher Nemetz 5'-10" So. PG/G   St Francis
Trevante Nelson   5'-10" So. PG   Mater Dei
Jay Rasch 5'11" So. PG   Upland
Ryan Read 5'-11" So. G   La Jolla Bishop's School
Rudy Serna 5'-8" So. PG   St Paul
Jaron Smith 5'-8" So.G   Ayala
Mikal Watson   5'-9" So. PG SD El Camino
Travis Wittick   5'-9" So. PG   Trabuco Hills

Notes, thoughts and rationalizations: 

We've listed those players we believe are among the best who have played particularly well where and when we've seen them, and that may be over the course of several years, but it certainly takes into account the way we thought these guys performed this past summer and spring, especially at some of the "high profile" events, camps and tournaments in which they've participated. We've reviewed all of our prior lists, all the rosters from tournaments we viewed this summer, re-read articles we've written since last April, and reviewed our notes and tapes of players. The list include players from Fresno in the North, to San Diego in the South, i.e., the entire SoCal region.

We've tried to list players at what we think are their "primary" positions.  That means that if we think a guy is a point guard, you'll find him on this list.  Others may disagree,  and think a guy should be listed elsewhere, so your best bet if you don't see someone listed here is to check the other lists within a class (e.g., the other positions within the class of 2003).    The list above is, quite obviously, rising-sophomore point guards. From our point of view, a "point guard" is generally the guy who brings the ball up, sets up the offense, controls the team's play, and is usually more of a playmaker than a scorer;  it's usually the guy with the most assists on a team, with the best passing skills, who finds the open man. In general a top point guard has excellent vision, good court sense, makes his teammates better, knows when to drive and when to dish, can shoot if necessary and has a good handle, pushes the ball on the break and generally has good quickness.  We believe most (heck, it's our list. . . all of them, otherwise why would we list them there, right?)  of the guys listed above fit that description.   Reasonable people can disagree, but then a lot of people think we're unreasonable. . .

No numerical rankings?  Why not?  Here's why:  

Because we don't like them very much, and they really tell you very little about how a player actually plays or what his potential is  (not that grouping them into "top 10" or any other type of largely undifferentiated list does either).   But let's face it, anyone and everyone can argue with anyone else's numerical selections until the cows come home, and the point of numerical rankings for most of the guys who compile such "rankings" is to demonstrate what they think they saw in a player, i.e., their opinion.  Is a guy a high-major? Mid-major? Low-major?  Should he be recruited at all?  Who knows.  Obviously the guys who use numerical rankings think they know, and that's fine.  Some of the others who use numbers to rank players may really be as omniscient as they think they are, but we're not willing to venture there. Others who use numbers to rank players will tell you that it's their "job" to rank players, that college coaches expect them to do that because their opinions, over many years,  are well-respected, or because that they are providing a service to college coaches and that's what they're getting paid to do.   Thus they are putting their own reputations on the line when they rank a player.   When they say a player is "No. 1", they mean it.  Really.

Er, um, ok. We've got no quarrel with that.  Those services (generally we mean services that are not available to the general public, so we are not talking about those which are available to the public online for free) who use numerical rankings have a job to do, and that's how they've defined their tasks,  or at least how they believe the college coaches who subscribe have defined their jobs.   Again, we can't quarrel with that. . . it's a free country and everyone is entitled to earn a living the way they want, or go broke trying.   Our's is a different focus however. And we mean it to be.

From our perspective, college coaches will make up their own minds anyway about what level a player can and will get recruited at.  We could rank players numerically, simply as an expression of opinion, but to do so in our view only creates a false sense of accomplishment for some of these players, or creates a situation where someone's ego gets articifically bruised because his ranking "dropped."   For most of these kids, that's the last thing they need to see, at least not on a publicly accessible, free website.   In short,  we don't think that's a useful exercise which really has much value other than to say one work in progress may be proceeding faster than another. 

From a recruiting perspective, we think the point is simply to identify good, solid players.  Our experience has been that when someone asks us "How high will this guy get recruited?" the real answer is, "About as high as he actually gets recruited."  In other words, a player gets recruited by the schools who recruit him largely because a coach has watched him, thinks the player's skill level fits and will help his program, and that's about the bottom line.  It's generally not based on whether scout X ranked a kid numerically or thought he was the "best player in the class."  That may help a kid's recruiting, no doubt about it because often, college coaches don't have the time to really get out and watch.   No doubt about it, scouts and recruiting services can help and they can also hurt a player with a negative review or assessment.  But that's not our intent.  If listing these guys helps them get noticed by a college coach, great.  We doubt though that anything we write will hurt or impede a kid's recruiting.  

Numerical rankings, at least when you're talking about high school players, especially ones as young as sophomores,  also strike us as a largely misplaced exercise because in a lot of ways, it's unfair to base such player "comparisons" (which is what numerical rankings are after all, a way of expressing that one guy is "better" than another, or that one guy is not as good as the others, by degrees)  based on just watching one, two or even five games.    Sure, one can get an idea about how a player plays by watching a series of games over a tournament or two.  But one just never knows if, during a three or four day period,  the kind of play one happens to be seeing is really typical or whether a player is having an "off" day, or the game of his life.  That's why extended viewings are better, but it's also why we think rankings, especially with the huge pool of players who play in SoCal is sometimes not a very useful exercise.

And also keep in mind, many people look at such lists for differing reasons.   Every player or parent of a player wants to look at a list to see where they or their kid  is "ranked" in comparison to other players.   That's great.  There are plenty of lists out there that can be had which will tell them what they want to know, or at least what someone else thinks about them or their kid.   This list isn't one of those.

College coaches who peruse our various lists perform their own evaluations.  That's our experience and that's what they tell us.   The point of our lists is not to rank players, but to get the word out about players to those in a position to eventually do something about recruiting these guys that we think they are worth taking a look at.  Beyond that, most club coaches, high school coaches, fans and other players already know about the guys listed here, and likewise, so do a lot of the college coaches.  While it's our goal to have more of them check these guys out sometime during the next three years, beyond generally identifying the guys we think are good, in some cases really good, that's about the extent of where we want to take the lists.  We'd be happy to express our personal opinions on various degrees of preference we have for one player over another in private if a coach asks us, but we're not going to do that publicly, at least not here and not now.

In short, the guys who are listed above are those who we believe deserve special attention. Some (the "Top 10") probably have demonstrated more ability and potential at this moment than some of the others listed.   But these are just high school kids, young rising sophomores, who have one year of high school  under their belt and three more to go.  And to list only 30 out of the more than 10,000+  players who play in SoCal is, to some extent, the height of arrogance.  We don't mean to be arrogant about it, but in our view taking that one step further by numerically ranking these guys would be folly at its worst.

Some of the players will be good enough eventually and lucky enough to get recruited at the D-I level, while others will get recruited at various other levels, whether D-II, D-III or NAIA. Some will wind up at JUCO's because they may not qualify. All of them have the chance to, but they'll need to get it done in the classroom first. The bottom line is that it's too early to tell what will happen to these players. And that's also one of their real plusses too: They're young, have got more of their high school careers in front of them than they have behind them, and if they work hard and are lucky enough to avoid injury, they'll continue to improve, get bigger, stronger, and eventually make it to the next level. 

Lastly, another caveat:  We obviously have not seen every player in SoCal in the sophomore class. We try to watch players over the entire course of a year.  We can't be everywhere. With many of these guys we've seen them over a course of years, started watching them while they were playing in youth leagues.   Others we saw for the first time this summer. Again, we haven't seen everyone everywhere, and thus there are bound to be guys we've left off the lists, but these are simply the players who we thought merited special attention that we have seen. 

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E-mail: jegesq@socalhoops.com


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