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January 18, 2009

Roundtable: Which guard would you pick?

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for his opinion about a current topic in the sport.

This week's question: If you were choosing a team today, which guard would you take first?

Greg Anthony's answer:
The guard play thus far this season has been superb. Having said that, you can't just pick a guy because his numbers are better; I think you always take into consideration a player's team. If I'm starting a team and trying to win a national championship, I'm picking Wake Forest's Jeff Teague. With all due respect to Stephen Curry, Jodie Meeks and the rest of the great guards out there, Teague's overall balance offensively and his efficiency are lights out when compared to anyone else. Teague went into the weekend shooting 54.1 percent from the field, 55 percent from 3-point range and 85 percent from the free-throw line and he was averaging 21.2 points. Those numbers are hard to accomplish if you were in the gym by yourself. What else is impressive is that he does it while allowing his teammates to also play at an extremely high level. There are two things to remember: 1. When you are a great talent, you can impose your ability on the game in terms of production, but the better your team, the more you have to be concerned with how the team functions. 2. Teague has two teammates James Johnson and Al-Farouq Aminu who probably will be first-round picks. Teague dominates games without dominating the ball, and, most important, his team wins.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
There are just a ton of good guards this season, but if I had my choice, I would take Davidson's Stephen Curry. Of all the nation's "best guards" Wake Forest's Jeff Teague, North Carolina's Ty Lawson, Kentucky's Jodie Meeks, Patrick Mills of Saint Mary's, Arizona State's James Harden, UCLA's Darren Collison, Pittsburgh's Levance Fields, Marquette's Jerel McNeal and Boston College's Tyrese Rice Curry has less talent around him and thus is asked to do more. Only one teammate is averaging in double figures, and Davidson opponents make Curry the focal point of their defensive efforts. It doesn't seem to matter. Curry went into the weekend leading the nation in scoring at 29.1 points per game (remember, that includes that weird game against Loyola (Md.) in which Curry was always double- or triple-teamed and didn't score) and was shooting 46.3 percent from the field, 37.7 percent from 3-point range and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line. He also was averaging 6.6 assists and 3.0 steals. Surround Curry with other top-flight talent i.e., the kind of talent that surrounds Teague, Fields, Collison, Lawson, McNeal, etc. and think how much more efficient and effective he could be on offense.

Jason King's answer:
If this were the NBA draft and my team needed a guard, I'd probably go with Wake Forest's Jeff Teague or Saint Mary's Patrick Mills. But if I needed a hot hand for a pickup game, Kentucky's Jodie Meeks would be the easy choice. No college player has been better than Meeks, and, yes, I would've said that even before Tuesday's 54-point effort at Tennessee. Meeks has reached double figures in each of the Wildcats' 17 games and has surpassed the 30-point plateau five times. Meeks also went into the weekend shooting a commendable 47.9 percent from the field, 44.4 percent from 3-point range and 91.4 percent from the free-throw line. Those numbers are comparable and in some cases, better than those posted by Davidson's Stephen Curry and Notre Dame's Kyle McAlarney, two of the nation's premier shooters. Unlike those players, Meeks gives opponents fits with his sturdy 6-foot-4, 204-pound frame. After missing more than half of last season with a hernia, Meeks now is being mentioned as a potential late first-round pick, although scouts are a bit concerned with his lack of length and that, until this season, he was a virtual unknown who had no history of strong outside shooting. Still, if Meeks keeps this up, he'll be a candidate for national player of the year if he's not already.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I'm taking a calculated risk selecting a guard without NCAA tournament experience, but the recent performances of Wake Forest's Jeff Teague are too amazing to ignore. Just take a look at what Teague has accomplished in his last four games. He scored 30 points and committed just one turnover in a victory at BYU that ended the Cougars' 53-game home winning streak. He tallied a career-high 34 points in a triumph over North Carolina and significantly outplayed Ty Lawson, one of the top point guards in the nation. He really impressed me three days later when he successfully avoided a letdown after that huge win by scoring 29 points in a 20-point victory at Boston College. And he followed that up Saturday by scoring 24 points on the road as Wake Forest handed Clemson its first loss of the season. Teague is an outstanding shooter he has made over half of his 3-point attempts but he also has an uncanny ability to get to the line. Teague has gone 52-of-62 on free throws over his last five games. Teague's ability to score at will while playing the point gives him a versatility few guards can match. His suspect assist-to-turnover ratio admittedly is a concern, but Teague never will have as many assists as most point guards because he also is his team's best scorer.

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