Wake Forest point guard Chris Paul finished his prep career as the No. 14 player on our final rankings for the class of 2003. Now, a year later, Paul has electrified the college basketball world as a freshman. He has been a staple for the Demon Deacons and is one of the top candidates for the National Freshman of the Year.
The incoming class of 2004 boasts several notable floor generals. We have highlighted five point guards that we believe will make their presence felt right away at each of their respective schools.
Daniel Gibson, Texas
6-foot-2, 200 pounds
Jones HS – Houston, Texas
No. 26 on the Rivals150
Longhorn fans have been waiting patiently for Gibson’s arrival ever since T.J. Ford announced his decision to go pro.
Gibson isn’t an elite point guard like Ford was but the 6-foot-2, 200 pound guard is a much more refined offensive player with NBA range on his jumper and loves to attack the basket. Gibson knows how to run an offense and will give Rick Barnes quality minutes as soon as he puts on a jersey.
With the incoming recruiting class of Mike Williams, Dion Dowell, Connor Atchley and possibly LaMarcus Aldridge coming in, Gibson will have plenty of options to go along with returning players Brad Buckman and P.J. Tucker.
If Gibson chooses his shots wisely and involves his talented teammates, watch the Longhorns battle for a National Championship.
Jordan Farmar, UCLA
6-foot-2, 170 pounds
Taft HS – Woodland Hills, California
No. 28 on the Rivals150
While Cedric Bozeman gives PAC-10 teams match up problems with his size, the 6-foot-6 point guard isn’t the player UCLA envisioned three years ago when he enrolled. Now that experiment can officially end when Farmar – a true point guard – comes to Westwood.
Farmar is a mixture of passing, scoring and pure leadership and he’ll be just perfect for the Bruins because he controls the pace of the game better than any point guard in this class. The McDonald’s All-American is averaging 27.5 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals a game in his senior campaign at Taft HS.
Ben Howland picked an absolute gem right out of SoCal. Not only will Farmar help right away, he’ll help right the ship that has put UCLA in the lost sea in terms of their historical success.
Isaiah Swann, Florida State
6-foot-1, 197 pounds
Hargrave Military Academy – Rockville, Maryland
No. 34 on the Rivals150
The ACC has returned to the elite status it is known to have. One of the reasons why is the play of Florida State. Leonard Hamilton has elevated the standards in Tallahassee and in return, the level of recruits signing on the dotted line are also increasing. Swann is a perfect example.
With the backcourt losing it’s leader in Tim Pickett and serviceable guard Nate Johnson to graduation, FSU is in need of impact guards. They have been playing the 2003-04 season without a true floor general but next year is different. Swann has the opportunity to step right into starter’s minutes and excel from the get go.
There will also be questions Swann’s ability to play the point guard position full time because he has been known as a shoot-first guard thanks to his deadly accuracy from deep but don’t let that fool you. Swann can run a team. He is no stranger to running a college-like offense.
At Hargrave Military Academy (his current school), Swann is the pilot of a very solid roster. Last season, Swann was at the prestigious Oak Hill Academy. Over the summer, he led the attack for the DC Blue Devils featuring Brian Johnson, Marcus Ginyard and future FSU teammate Jerome Habel. With the same level of talent in Tallahassee, Swann will continue to play at a high level.
Darius Washington, Memphis
6-foot, 165 pounds
Edgewater HS – Orlando, Florida
No. 29 on the Rivals150
John Calapari has had some tough losses in his time as the Memphis head coach. Amare Stoudamire, Qyntel Woods and Kendrick Perkins have all bypassed the Tigers and went straight to the pros. But next year, Calapari will finally get his man and a mighty good one at that.
Washington will have a Dejuan Wagner-like impact for the Tigers. The Orlando, Florida product can put up a ton of points in a hurry and creates a ton of problems for opposing teams with his quickness. Washington won’t lead the nation or the conference in assists but his presence alone will make the Tigers even better next season.
Current point guard Antonio Burks will graduate, leaving the door wide open for Washington to log minutes at the one spot. The McDonald’s All American has had a sensational senior campaign and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon either. Watch Washington shine in his freshman campaign.
Rajon Rondo, Kentucky
6-foot-1, 155 pounds
Oak Hill Academy – Louisville, Kentucky
No. 20 on the Rivals150
With guards Gerald Fitch and Cliff Hawkins graduating, Tubby Smith needed a point guard to help continue the Wildcats’ success. They got that player in Rondo back in January. Rondo, a Louisville native, has the stature to come in and compete right away. He has been one of the most electrifying players in high school basketball this season.
Rondo runs a collegiate style offense at Oak Hill Academy and has improved more than anyone in this senior class. Coach Steve Smith has seen several high major players come through his program over the years and he believes Paul may be one of the best ever. We believe him. Rondo can take over the game in a number of ways.
He has proven he can pass (which is evident by his 31 assists in a game earlier in the year) and he can score. Defensively, he’s a different player than what he was over the summer. Every aspect of his game is getting polished. The learning curve won’t stop at the high school level either. Rondo makes the loss of Fitch and Hawkins a little easier to swallow for Kentucky fans and coaches.
We lumped Livingston and Telfair together because of the uncertainty surrounding their days at the college level but both have immediate impact potential at the college level. Livingston will step into the void that Chris Duhon leaves for the Blue Devils while Telfair gives the Cardinals their missing piece to the puzzle.