Craig Sword could have dominated only playing 16-under AAU ball this summer but the Montgomery (Ala.) Carver shooting guard wanted to improve even more and so he moved up a level and proved he can hang with those players as well.
Rivals.com rates Sword, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound prospect, as the No. 11 shooting guard and No. 63 overall in the 2012 class.
Playing with Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper, both Alabama commits, meant Sword wasn't the main focus on the Alabama Challenge team but it forced him to improve other parts of his game.
"It helped him become more mature on the court," AAU coach Robert Shannon said. "He's not going to get the ball every time. He learned to play more without the ball.
"When we played him with other guys like Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper, you're not going to be that focused guy. He had to learn to play without the ball and get his points some other way and that helped his defense.
"He's good at taking guys off the dribble. He can get to the cup and now the other thing is he needs to stop and pull up sometimes. Usually he just goes all the way. He needs to stop and pull up for that jump shot."
Shannon said Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Georgia are the main schools showing interest in Sword, who looked good at multiple events this off-season, but that SEC, Big 12 and ACC programs are involved.
The only shooting guard from the south that's rated higher than Sword in the 2012 class is Little Rock (Ark.) Sylvan Hills' Archie Goodwin, a five-star prospect who has early offers from Arkansas, Baylor, Kansas, Memphis and Oklahoma State.
"Craig played well this summer," Shannon said. "At some of the bigger NIKE events, he played with the 17s and did well. He's a great defender, runs the floor well and is a good finisher. He looked good."