July 9, 2006

Point guards fight urge to score at ABCD

Teaneck, N.J. -- There is a reason why only one point guard, O.J. Mayo, is in the top ten in scoring at the Reebok ABCD Camp.

It's not that there are not talented point guards here. It's that most of the time at elite camps, once you give the ball up, you rarely get it back. And since point guards make the first pass to start the offense, usually, they don't see the ball again during that possession.

Syracuse commit Johnny Flynn is fine with that, as long as he can get his teammates involved and win games.

"Your obligation as a point guard is to get everybody the ball," Flynn said. "Everybody wants to eat. Everybody wants to score. It's a leadership quality to be able to run the offense and find open teammates and get them the ball. College coaches appreciate that, to have a point guard come in and pass the ball."

Flynn has been one of the most dominant point guards at camp for that reason. With capable scorers like Chris Allen, Tracy Smith and J.J. Hickson on his team, Flynn's role is to distribute. He's more than happy doing it.

Same goes for Alabama commit Rico Pickett, who has been the leader in assists all week and is currently tied with Demetri McCamey heading into the final day. Each camper plays 16 of 32 minutes in a game and Pickett is averaging 4.5 assists through three days.

Does Pickett want to fire away? Sure, who doesn't want to shoot more. But he realizes players like Blake Hoffarber, who leads the camp in 3-point shooting percentage at 62 percent, is looking for shots and so are the big men in the post. Pickett's role is well-defined -- distribute the ball and when you get an open look, take the shot.

ABCD assist leaders through Sat.
Player APG
Rico Pickett 4.5
Demetri McCamey 4.5
Brandon Jennings 4.3
Anthony Crater 4.0
Malik Booth 3.7
"It's important in order for a team to win consistently to have a point guard who is unselfish," Pickett said. "I have to be the guy to keep things steady and get the ball to everybody. That's my role on this team or on any team. Get all the guys involved and then find time to do my thing."

For Miami (Fla.) commit Edwin Rios, getting familiarized with his new teammates on the first day of camp was crucial. He wanted to build their trust as a floor leader and he took the time in the early games to learn their styles of play so he could maximize their talents.

When 2008 USC commit Malik Story heats up from deep, Rios wants to get him the ball. When Renardo Sidney, who is transferring to Lakewood (Calif.) Artesia, has post position, Rios wants to dump it down low.

"It takes awhile to get familiar with all the guys, but by the end of the first game or the start of the second game, you start to get a feel for your teammates," Rios said. "It's all a matter of playing hard. A lot of guys think it's just about scoring. But if you play tough defense, if you pass the ball and you work to get open, you're going to get shots. It's tough getting to know the players and making a bond, but once you do it everything is easier."

One player who has a number of offensive options on his team but has still found opportunities to score points has been 2008 prospect Brandon Jennings, who tweaked his list to include Arizona, UConn, USC and Texas as his top four schools.

Jennings, who will attend Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy next season, has Kevin Love, who has led the camp in scoring and rebounding for three straight days, on his team along with Drew Gordon, James Harden and others. But Jennings is finding ways to score and is getting around 10 points per game. He is also second in camp at 4.3 assists.

"A lot of guys are selfish, a lot of guys won't pass the ball," Love said earlier this week. "Brandon's not like that. He makes us all better."

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