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November 28, 2005

Best of the Rest: Point guards

College coaches will tell you two things after the early signing period. One, they love their class and think the guys they sign all have a chance to really help the team and on a good day, the kids all have a chance to be special. Two, they'll ask what point guards and bigs are still available.

Over the next four days, Rivals.com will take a look at some of the best players still on the board at each position. Today we start with the point guard position.

Just how important are point guards? How about all 25 of the top rated point guards in the Rivals.com rankings are committed and signed with a school. Get the picture. Schools are still looking to find a point guard in the class of 2006 and finding that the talent pool is shrinking by the day. There are still a handful of talented players on the board.

Perhaps the best point guard still available is Eugene Harvey from St. Benedict's in Newark, N.J. The 6-foot floor general has already become a major target for a number of schools.

He's taken official visits to Rutgers and Southern Cal while Illinois, St. John's and Florida are also keeping up with the three-star prospect. Harvey maintains that he's still open and with the point guard pool nearly depleted of players that can help at the high-major level next year, he should see his recruitment take in all kinds of comers this season.

Three guards played themselves into the high-major scene last week in Rhode Island with their play at the National Prep Tip-Off. And no one played better at the point than Winchendon's Ricky Harris. The 6-foot-1 Baltimore native quietly went through the fall period and listened to the pitches from the low to mid-majors.

Then he averaged 30 plus points a game in front of 100 or so coaches last week. Funny how things can change. Now Harris is a guy with a lot of mid-majors hoping to jump in a couple of high-majors wanting to watch more of him this season. Rivals.com will have more on this fast rising guard in the near future.

Philly Lutheran guard Devon McClendon told Rivals.com that he picked up offers from Washington and Illinois after he had a good showing at the NPT on the first night. However, after going 0-6 from the field in the second game, the high-majors put him back on the watch list instead of must get list. He's a big, strong, tough Philly guard that will probably catch on with a high-major at the end of the year.

Coaches will make their way to Cincinnati this weekend for the Queen City Classic, hosted by Harmony Prep. The host team has a trio of guards that can help mid-major plus teams next season. Marcus Rhodes, Deonta Vaughn and Tyrone Appleton.

Head coach Travis McAvene boasts one of the best backcourts in the nation. All three bring a different angle to the rotation. While Vaughn and Appleton get a lot of the national pub, another Indiana native is playing very well this season. Rhodes is a thick-chested guard that does a good job of running the ship at Harmony Prep and taking care of all of the talent around him. He's not afraid to go for 30 himself but has played well enough for a high end mid-major to snatch him up.

Vaughn, a former Indiana commitment, is playing exceptionally well this season. He's the perimeter threat for Harmony this year and taking advantage of Rhodes's ability to get into the lane and kick it out for scores. Vaughn said Georgetown, Fresno State, Illinois, Pepperdine, South Florida and Arizona State are all recruiting him now.

Appleton, the 6-foot-2 defensive stopper, is looking at Virginia Tech and Missouri and hoping for an offer from Washington.

Much like his teammate from last season, James Florence is taking a page out of Sharaud Curry's book. Curry used a state championship run at Wheeler High School (Ga.) to land an offer from Providence. He's now playing big minutes for the Friars. Florence, a 6-foot-1 athletic point, is taking the same route.

Like Curry, Florence enters the season with little fanfare from the high-major conference schools. However, in private workouts, Florence has shined in front of college coaches and a couple of national tournaments and another run at the state title should bode well for the Georgia native.

Be sure to check back on Tuesday as Rivals.com takes a look at some of the top unsigned shooting guards in the class of 2006.


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