Life After Horton - ASU Point Guard Prospects

Within the next week it is expected that Jason Horton will inform the Arizona State coaches of his decision to attend Missouri. Such an announcement would move the ASU staff in a new direction as it relates to the recruitment of a future point guard(s) at the University. DevilsDigest breaks down the various possible scenarios and includes a first-look at some of the available athletes drawing interest from the school, from both the 2004 and 2005 classes.

Certainly there is some disappointment among the Arizona State faithful associated with losing out on an elite point guard such as Jason Horton. Horton is an excellent floor general, and among the best in his class at leading a team on the court. He is not, however, the only high quality player that the Sun Devils are involved with at the position.

The Horton decision opens up several options for the Sun Devil staff. One possible scenario would involve channeling all efforts into the recruitment of another 2004 high school senior-to-be. The staff has tried to get involved for quite some time with Bay Area star Quentin Thomas, one of the top point guards on the West Coast, but to little avail.

At this late stage, it seems the only 2004 high school point guard the Devils would have a legitimate shot at from the West Coast is San Diego University's Rico Tucker. At the Adidas Big Time in Las Vegas, Tucker put on a show with an assortment of high flying dunks and a hot hand from the three-point line. Still, there is some concern being expressed regarding Tucker's ability to play the point guard position, and opinions regarding his upside vary greatly not only among recruiting pundits, possibly even amongst the Arizona State staff.

Just a few weeks ago it seemed that there was no way Tucker would be offered a scholarship at the school. Now however, with the Horton decision, coinciding with Tucker's respectable showing at the Big Time (depending on who you ask), it's at least an outside possibility worth mentioning, if nothing else. Still, don't count on it.

A more likely scenario is one that has been brewing beneath the surface for quite some time, but has recently reportedly come to be viewed as a very favorable option among the Sun Devil staff. Los Angeles Southwest Junior College prospect Michael Ford, a 6-1, 180 pound combo-guard reportedly has the Devils at the top of a short list.

Ford dominated the competition in his first year in South Coast Conference, averaging 25.7 points, 4.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds and an amazing 5.1 steals per game. He also shot a mind-numbing .568% from three-point distance, making 75 from long range on only 132 attempts.

I had a chance to watch Ford play for the first time two weekends ago at the Say No Classic, in a game were he played with incoming ASU JC transfer Steve Moore. In the contest, Ford displayed terrific quickness and ball handling skills, excellent floor vision, tenacious defense and a sweet stroke out to beyond 20 feet. He's physically prepared to come in and play immediately at the high major level, and in speaking with Moore, he made it clear that not only was he talking to Ford about the possibility of becoming a Sun Devil, but Jason Braxton and former Southwest JC star Curtis Millage were also working on him as well. When asked how much of a shot ASU had with Ford, Moore remarked, "Oh, we own him."

Should the Arizona State staff decide - -as they well might - - to quickly move on Ford and offer a scholarship, it would subsequently move the school into the running for several elite high school point guard prospects from the 2005 class.

One such recruit, Andre McGee from Canyon Springs HS, is well known here at DevilsDigest as the very good friend and former teammate of ASU incoming freshman Tron Smith. Hoopscoop.com's Clark Francis recently ranked McGee as the number one overall prospect nationally at the Adidas ABCD camp. At the very least, he will be a consensus top 50 national player in the 2005 class. Interestingly however, opinions vary even amongst those closest to the program as to whether the Sun Devils have a legitimate shot at McGee, and it remains to be seen exactly how thing will play out with the young star.

Even so, there are several other extremely talented point guards and combo guards the Devils are in on from the 2005 class, one of whom already lists Arizona State as a huge front-runner in his recruitment. Here's a quick rundown on some of the new names, all of whom we were able to watch this past week in Las Vegas at the Big Time.

Antonio Hanson- This 6-1 rising junior out of Liberal Heights Kansas is extremely similar size-wise and stylistically to Curtis Millage, right down to the left handed jump shot and the frenetic dribble drives. He's excellent with the ball in his hands and makes a lot of things happen for himself and his teammates off the dribble. He's also a defensive threat on the ball and a player who does a lot of the little things you'd like to see out of a lead guard. Hanson has a strong design on playing in the Pac-10 conference, because as he puts it, "that's were all the best point guards are." Currently, Hanson has Arizona State "number one right now" on his list by a wide margin because of his affinity for the Pac-10 and his relationship with Keith Wooden, a player whom he worked out with all the time over the last year in Kansas.

Byron Eaton- Dallas-area prospect is a former teammate of Chris Bosh at Lincoln high school, as well as a relative of infamous ex-Sun Devil Steven "Headake" Smith. Eaton is arguably the best guard in Texas in the '05 class and perhaps the Sun Devils will go hard after the next future star from Dallas after finishing such a close second in the Horton sweepstakes. Eaton is a sparkplug of a point guard, around 5-10 and approximately 210-220 pounds. He relentlessly shoves the ball down the throat of opponents either in the open court or in the half court set. What sets him apart however is his ability to not only break down players off the dribble, but also either finish in the paint or get the ball into the hands of someone who can.

Daren Jordan- This is a player who just gets more impressive every time out. Hailing from Trevor Brown high school in Phoenix, the local product is clearly the best in-state point guard in the '05 class and Arizona State has certainly taken notice of his play of late, beginning perhaps with a 47-point performance is a high school playoff game earlier this year. The 5-11 Jordan continued his strong play in a series of camps and AAU events throughout the spring and even piqued Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski's interest in a game at the Big Time. While Jordan has a tendency to try and do a little too much at times, he is without question a bulldoggish lead guard with the ability to break people down off the dribble and score in a variety of ways. He's also a born competitor with a never-say-die attitude. Arizona State is certainly keeping a close eye on the local rising sensation that is Daren Jordan.

Harvey Perry- This combo-guard out of Cheyenne high school in Las Vegas, Nevada was actually a 04' recruit who will now become a '05 prospect upon his decision to attend prep school at Brewster's Academy following his senior year. Perry and his father have claimed that his decision was made with a design on improving his stock from the high major level to the elite level, and while that may be the case, we've heard from excellent sources that he has little choice in the matter due to some academic issues. Nonetheless, Perry was very impressive in our singular viewing in Las Vegas. He possesses terrific size for a combo-guard, at about 6-4, with long arms and a great frame. Perry plays very unselfishly and is always looking to get his teammates involved, almost to a fault. He's a great ball handler, with excellent athleticism and the tools are there for Perry to fulfill his desire to attend an elite-level school such as Arizona, his dream university. Arizona State was in there quite early with Perry, and it may pay off down the road, particularly if, as we suspect, the scholarship offer from Arizona does not materialize.

Austin Jackson- Extremely smooth player from the same AAU team as Byron Eaton, the Dallas Mustangs blue. Jackson spent most of his time playing off the ball, which is expected with a player of Eaton's caliber on the roster, but when he did have the rock in his hands, he showed very nice ball skills and the ability to create his own shot off the separation dribble. Jackson is an elite level athlete, with great quicks and hops and he scores on an array of moves from all over the court. We'll have to see him a little more to determine how well he runs a team, but for now this is another very nice prospect to keep an eye on in the future.

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