King's Court: The perfect player
Jason King [ARCHIVE]
February 13, 2013
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What if you could build the ultimate college basketball player, Mr. Potato Head-style?

How tall would you make your point guard? Would speed be a factor for a center? Sure, you want your small forward to be able to score, but does it matter if he rebounds?

Of course it does.

Or at least it should if you truly want to construct a dream player, a guy at each position who possesses the very best traits of the top college basketball players from around the country.

After discussing the issue with four Division I coaches and three NBA scouts -- whose comments are sprinkled in below -- here's how I'd construct my team. And please note, I picked players based on how they project at the next level. For instance, while Ben McLemore is playing small forward for Kansas, he'll likely be a shooting guard as a pro, so that's where he appears on this list.

My ideal point guard would have …

1. Michael Carter-Williams' size and length: The Syracuse sophomore ranks first in the country in assists (8.5) and third in steals (3.1). At 6-foot-6, he is one of the tallest players in the country at his position and presents a matchup problem for almost any perimeter player trying to defend him. "He's the highest-rated point guard on our board," one scout said. "He and Marcus Smart are probably the only point guards in this [draft] class that have the potential -- the potential -- to be high-level NBA players."

2. Marcus Smart's leadership: In his first -- and likely only -- collegiate season, Smart has transformed an Oklahoma State squad that hasn't made the NCAA tournament in two years into a Big 12 title contender. No player in the country motivates his teammates and demands more of them than Smart, who also sets an example with his play. How many point guards do you see averaging 5.9 rebounds? That's how many Smart snares for the Cowboys per game -- not to mention 4.6 assists and three steals. He does all of the little things to help his team win.

3. Aaron Craft's defense: There are far better offensive threats than Craft, but there may not be a better on-ball, perimeter defender in America than Ohio State's rosy-cheeked junior. Some of the country's quickest point guards have tried unsuccessfully to blow by Craft and penetrate into the lane. What makes Craft's peskiness even more impressive is that he's able to come up with so many clean steals without fouling.

4. Pierre Jackson's speed and quickness: The 5-10 Baylor point guard can be erratic at times, often turning the ball over or taking ill-advised shots. But baseline to baseline, he's as fast with the ball as any player in college basketball. In a half-court offense, he is incredibly explosive off the bounce and great at drawing fouls. "He's small, but he's so hard to guard," an NBA scout said. "He's so quick and he's always moving. He never stops. He's moving up draft boards, probably a late first-rounder or early second-rounder at this point."

5. Phil Pressey's vision: The Missouri junior has the ability to make highlight-reel passes that can be rivaled only by NBA All-Stars. His court vision and feel for his teammates' tendencies are second to none. Pressey is one of the few players at his position with a "wow" factor. His mediocre shooting ability and his knack for wilting in the final minutes of big games will keep him off of most All-American teams, though.

6. Trey Burke's poise: The Michigan sophomore averages 18.2 points, 7.0 assists and only 1.9 turnovers -- phenomenal numbers considering he plays in one of the most competitive conferences in recent memory. Burke never seems to lose his cool, never tries to do too much, and never gets too high or too low. His on-court temperament has been infectious on a Wolverines squad that was ranked No. 1 earlier this season.

My ideal shooting guard would have …

1. Ben McLemore's athleticism: Let's be clear. McLemore would probably rank at the top of this list in several categories. He has one of the prettiest jump shots in the country, is calm under pressure, and can score from just about anywhere. But I've got to spread the love, so let's focus on McLemore's speed, burst, quickness, length and chiseled 6-5, 200-pound frame that may make him the No. 1 pick in this summer's NBA draft. "He's the most enjoyable guy in the country to watch play," an NBA scout said, "because you can sit there and marvel at how graceful he already is and, at the same time, you can think about all he can still become."

2. Tim Hardaway Jr.'s fearlessness: Taking the big shot in a close game is one thing. Wanting to take the big shot is something different, and make no mistake, Hardaway wants the ball in his hands with everything on the line. The Michigan junior went 10-of-17 from 3-point range against Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Nine of those 3s came in the second half or overtime.

3. Archie Goodwin's handle: So many people think of shooting guards as guys who attempt shots only from 3-point range. But it's the players who can put the ball on the court and penetrate who are truly dangerous. That describes Goodwin, the Kentucky freshman who can get into the lane with the best of them. "I'm sure he drives [John] Calipari crazy at times," one SEC coach said. "But he's got a confidence about him when he has that ball in his hands. He thinks he's the best player on the court."

4. Shabazz Muhammad's versatility: The UCLA freshman is projected to be selected anywhere from No. 1 to No. 6 in this year's NBA draft, and there are plenty of reasons why. "He shoots 3s, he scores from midrange, he drives and spots up," one NBA scout said. "He's a very balanced player. There are no glaring weaknesses." Muhammad isn't quite as explosive an athlete as McLemore and is probably 10 to 15 pounds heavier. But he is every bit as skilled, has a better handle and is more aggressive.

5. Ian Clark's stroke: The Belmont senior is shooting 51.2 percent from beyond the arc. That's almost tough to fathom. It's not as if Clark has a small number of attempts, which could increase his chances of a high percentage. Clark is attempting 6.6 3-pointers per game. He's made five or more shots from long range seven times this season and made nine 3s against Northeastern. That's not easy to do, folks.

6. Michael Snaer's short memory: One of the biggest keys to a shooter's success is to never lose confidence. Bad game last night? So what. Pretend as if it never happened. Snaer has been able to do that time and time again at Florida State, where he's rarely had two poor shooting performances in a row. That's why Snaer -- more than any player in the nation -- is the guy you want with the ball in his hands in the waning seconds of a close game. He hit two game-winning shots in recent weeks in victories over Clemson and Maryland. Last season, he made buzzer-beaters to topple Duke...
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