College Basketball: The Top 15 True Point Guards in 2012-13
True point guards are a treat to watch. They don't "wow" you in the traditional scoring way, but they impact the game just the same. A "true" point guard is a facilitator—they set up the offense and make plays for teammates.
One of the best in recent memory was Kendall Marshall at North Carolina. His influence on every game was seen through his 9.8 assists per game, not his 7.8 points per game.
Marshall would be a shoe-in for this list had he stayed in school. Although we won't see his talents in college, these 15 facilitators play his style as "pass-first" point guards.
And that is what a "true" point guard is—one that will always look for the extra pass. Unselfishness is a must for these players on the basketball court.
I'll also note that these are returning players. No freshmen will be included in this list.
Keith Appling, Michigan State
Draymond Green was one of the best passing forwards in the game last season. Keith Appling had three more assists on the season than Green, just as a sophomore.
Appling is great at getting the ball to the basket as well. He made a team-high 134 free throws last season at a 78.8 percent clip.
Although his freshman season for Tom Izzo left much to be desired (1.3 assists per game to 1.6 turnovers per game), Appling improved. His sophomore season saw his assists triple (3.9 per game) in just eight more minutes per game.
Appling was great for Izzo last season and should be great in 2012-13. Izzo is one of the best coaches in the game, and Appling should continue to improve.
Jason Brickman, Long Island
Jason Brickman is probably the least known player on this list. As a 5'10" point guard for Long Island, that may be expected.
However, Brickman is one of the best at getting teammates involved. He averaged 7.3 assists per game last season as a sophomore, and notched seven in the Blackbirds loss to Michigan State in their first game of the 2012 NCAA tournament.
One area of improvement for Brickman, and almost all young point guards, deals with turning the ball over. Brickman averaged 3.9 turnovers per game, dropping his assist-to-turnover ratio to 1.9.
Lorenzo Brown, North Carolina State
True point guard might not be the term to describe Lorenzo Brown.
"Do-it-all" point guard should suffice.
Brown averaged 12.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game for North Carolina State last season. He played a huge role in the Wolfpack's run to the Sweet 16 last March. Brown averaged 13 points, six assists, and 7.3 rebounds in the 2012 tournament.
He may stand to lose some playing time this season to incoming McDonald's All-American Tyler Lewis, but Brown is a point guard that will continue to make his presence felt for Mark Gottfried's squad.
Junior Cadougan, Marquette
Junior Cadougan has quietly had a successful tenure at Marquette. Names like Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom will make headlines, but Cadougan keeps the Marquette offense running.
Cadougan isn't a scorer like Crowder or Johnson-Odom, but impacts the offense all the same. With these two seniors exiting, Cadougan will see an increased role in the Marquette offense next season.
Last season, Cadougan averaged 5.5 assists per game for the Golden Eagles up-tempo offense. He has improved every year, and as a senior, should continue to do so.
D.J. Cooper, Ohio
Chances are you didn't know who D.J. Cooper was until the 2012 NCAA tournament. He led the Ohio Bobcats to the Sweet 16 with victories over Michigan and South Florida, and nearly came up with a monumental upset over North Carolina.
Cooper is looking to repeat that success this season.
Cooper is more of a scoring point compared to other players on this list, but his passing is still superb. He averaged 5.7 assists per game last year along with his team leading 14.6 points per game.
Surprisingly, his sophomore campaign was more statistically impressive than last. Cooper averaged 7.5 assists per game with 15.8 points per game, numbers he could mimic in his senior season.
Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Aaron Craft isn't known for scoring. To be honest, he isn't known for notable court vision either.
Craft is known for his stifling defense and savvy play when the opposing team has the ball. His defense is annoying, intelligent, and passionate. His 2.5 steals per game last season led the Buckeyes, as did his 4.6 assists per game.
With Jared Sullinger headed to the NBA, Craft will see an expanded role in Thad Matta's offense. Craft is one of the best at initiating the offense, and he rarely turns the ball over (2.2 per game last season).
Craft makes great choices with the basketball and is one of the best point guards in the college game.
Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary's
It is difficult to describe Matthew Dellavedova. He's not overwhelmingly athletic and his shooting form is flat-out weird. But one thing he does well, like many on this list, is getting the job done.
The Australian averaged 6.4 assists per game for St. Mary's to just 2.9 turnovers per game. His unique playing style is fun to watch. He gets his teammates involved in the offense and can score in a multitude of ways.
St. Mary's goes how Dellavedova goes. He averaged 37.5 minutes per game last season. That's just two minutes and 30 seconds on the pine per game—and sometimes it's less. Head coach Randy Bennett knows he needs Dellavedova's scoring and passing ability out on the court for his team to succeed.
Abdul Gaddy, Washington
As the number two point guard in the 2009 recruiting class, Abdul Gaddy was supposed to be something special. In his first few years, he has shown that he wasn't quite ready for the college game.
2011-12 was supposed to be a breakout year for the Huskies, with a talented backcourt consisting of Gaddy, Tony Wroten Jr., and Terrence Ross. Unfortunately, these Huskies underperformed and were inexplicably inconsistent throughout the year.
Gaddy has improved under Lorenzo Romar. He certainly hasn't lived up to his hype, but he did post 5.2 assists to just 2.1 turnovers per game last season. He has struggled scoring the ball, but he has learned to command the offense better.
Trae Golden, Tennessee
The top returning assist leader in the SEC is none other than Tennessee's Trae Golden. He averaged 4.5 assists per game last season for the resurgent Volunteers and could play an even larger role next season for Cuonzo Martin.
Golden had an up-and-down year in 2011-12. He was removed from the starting lineup for a game during conference play. When he was reinserted into the starting five, Tennessee went on a four-game winning streak.
Golden and Jarnell Stokes are key ingredients for Tennessee to build on their success from last season. If the Volunteers expect to improve, it will be because of Golden's sound decision-making at the helm.
Pierre Jackson, Baylor
Pierre Jackson was one of the most important JUCO transfers in college basketball last season. As a junior, Jackson fed the ultra-talented Baylor roster 5.8 assists per game.
He finished the 2011-12 season with 223 assists, second-most all time for a Baylor guard in a single season.
Jackson led the Bears in scoring and assists, a surprising statistic considering the talent Scott Drew had on his roster. Jackson will once again lead a skilled Baylor squad in 2012-13.
Coach Drew has another stellar recruiting class, which means Jackson's statistics may not drop off, despite losing Quincy Acy, Perry Jones III and, Quincy Miller to the NBA.
Myck Kabongo, Texas
Playing beside J'Covan Brown has its benefits. Brown was a lethal scorer from anywhere on the court, which relieved pressure from his freshman teammate Myck Kabongo.
In 2012-13, Brown will be in the NBA. Kabongo will be faced with leading a very young Texas team without the 20.1 points per game that Brown provided.
Kabongo should have the starting job locked up, but incoming freshman Javan Felix may steal some minutes. With three incoming recruits above 6'10", however, Kabongo's statistics shouldn't take a hit. His 9.6 points and 5.2 assists per game may increase with his experience next season.
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Connecticut is just one year removed from being national champions, and yet their 2012-13 season couldn't look more hopeless.
Shabazz Napier is one of the few bright spots for Connecticut in the upcoming season. He was on the 2011 national championship squad, and he improved in an increased role last year.
Napier averaged 5.8 assists per game, nearly doubling his three assists per game from his freshman season. His shot selection also improved, seen in his improved shooting percentages (from 37 percent to 38.9 percent).
He'll never be a great scorer, but his passing mindset will benefit Connecticut in a somber 2012-13 season.
Phil Pressey, Missouri
As a sophomore, Phil Pressey led a surprisingly potent Missouri offense with 6.3 assists per game. Frank Haith's guard-heavy offense relied on Pressey to distribute between senior scorers like Marcus Denmon and Kim English.
With these scoring threats out of the picture, Pressey may be hard pressed to find viable scoring options. His scoring and minutes will almost certainly increase, as Haith will rely on Pressey to make plays for his teammates.
Pressey led the Big 12 in assists in 2011-12, and there is no reason to think he will slow in SEC play.
Peyton Siva, Louisville
Like Aaron Craft, Peyton Siva is one of the most annoying point guards in the game. He is savvy on defense and his intensity makes up for his lack of size.
On offense, Siva's athleticism is on full display. He's fast, quick, explosive, and elusive. He handles the ball more than any other player for Rick Pitino, and it is his playmaking ability that catapulted Louisville into the 2012 Final Four.
Siva's statistics are average, primarily because of the slow pace that Louisville plays. He averaged 5.6 assists per game last year and only 9.1 points per game.
Louisville returns a majority of its Final Four players. Siva will lead an experienced Louisville squad in 2012-13. With the graduation of leading scorer Kyle Kuric, Siva will be relied upon even more to get to the rim and score.
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State
Nate Wolters is the highest-scoring guard on this list. His 21.2 points per game last year were good for ninth in the nation, but that's not to say he isn't a "true" point guard.
Wolters does what is required of him in the South Dakota State offense. He needs to score, but he can also dish the rock. He averaged team-highs in points, rebounds, and assists for the Jackrabbits (21.2, 5.1, 5.9, respectively).
Wolters handles the ball more than any other player for the Jackrabbits, making him one of the most valuable point guards in the country.
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