More aggressive Livingston still turning heads

Shaun Livingston is preparing to visit Florida at the end of the week. One of the nation's top point guard recruits, Livingston is attracting interest from all of the big boys. He has a rare combination of size and skill and has transformed himself into an even more dominating player.

When we first saw Livingston last summer, he was a baby-faced point guard who often deferred to the older players on his team. He was soft-spoken, modest and tried to deflect attention away from himself. Now Livingston sounds more confident and self-assured.

Part of that is the product of the attention he has garnered from the nation's top hoop programs and part comes from a wildly successful high school season that ended with a state championship. After a phenomenal summer with the Ft. Sooy No Limit AAU team, Livingston led Peoria High to a 31-1 record. He hit the game winner in the championship game. On the season, he averaged 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists a contest.

Livingston has been much more aggressive this year, both in high school and with his summer teams. He still gets his teammates involved, but has started to look for his shot with greater consistency. His offensive game is more refined and hard work the past off-season has paid off.

"Yeah, I'm starting to look for the shot a little bit more," Livingston confessed. "My coach wants me to look for my shot a little bit more. He needed me to score a little bit more this season. Next year we lose two seniors who had the scoring responsibility, so I'm looking for my shot this summer. I'm working on my outside perimeter shot. Last year I had players who I could dish off to, but this summer I've got to be a little more demanding for shots."

Two of those players are Richard McBride and Brian Randle, both of whom signed with Illinois. The pressure to play close to home is intensified by having a pair of friends on the squad trying to get him to play with them. Yet his father said that he wouldn't mind Shaun moving away from home.

"He said that? That's cool," responded Livingston. "You have to mature sometime in your life. I like to travel. I don't get too homesick. It excites me to go to new places and see new things."

Other than Illinois, the rest of the schools on his list are a ways from his home in Peoria. He likes Florida, Arizona, Duke and Louisville. He visits Florida at the end of May and may be in Tucson for Midnight Madness.

What makes Livingston so intriguing is that he is a legitimate 6-7 point guard. He's not a tall wing pretending to play the point, he's a true floor general. Livingston draws many comparisons to Penny Hardaway as a prep. He has the same floor sense and long, lanky build. He has great vision and with his height he sees over opposing defenses. A great passer, Livingston is also a more than competent scorer who is very adept at getting into the lane. As his outside shot improves his overall offensive game has become better and better.

Livingston is the second point guard recruit the Cats and Gators are fighting over. L.A.'s Jordan Farmar visited Florida last weekend and may decide on a school this week.

Livingston has friends at Illinois, but he also has a connection to the Cats. Livingston and Andre Iguodala talk from time to time. Arizona also has another edge, its tradition of NBA point guards.

"I have to look at that. I have to look at how a school puts players into the NBA and how they develop," mentioned Livingston. "Arizona has been real good at doing that."

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