Alaskan guard likes Cats, others

Finding great basketball players in Alaska is just a little bit easier than finding great downhill skiers in Arizona. Sure Trajon Langdon and Carlos Boozer have come out of the state, but other than that the hoops tradition is a little sparse. Mario Chalmers hopes to change that perception of his state.

Mario Chalmers will be among the top point guards in the class of 2005, but make no mistake, Chalmers has the tools to do many things. He has the skills to be a combo-guard, he can both pass and shoot. Because of these skills he may very well fit into Arizona's plans.

The Cats appear set at point guard with Mustafa Shakur here now and Nic Wise on his way in '06, but they don't want to be left empty handed and want a versatile player who can fill in at either guard position. The Cats have their eyes on Isaiah Swann and Shaun Livingston in '04, but if neither player comes, then their attention could shift to a player in '05 and Chalmers is among the best.

As of now Chalmers has a long list of schools. North Carolina, Marquette, UCLA, Syracuse, Washington, Arizona, Kansas, Wake Forest and Maryland are all showing him early attention and he is intrigued by all of those clubs. He also mentioned that Duke has not sent any letters but that he's put them on his list if they came calling.

"I'm looking for a school with good academics, good workout facilities and good fan support," Chalmers said. "I am also interested in the coach and the attitudes of the players."

As for the style of play, Chalmers is like most players; he prefers the up-temp game.

When asked specifically about Arizona, Chalmers made it clear that the Cats fit a lot of his criteria.

"They're a good up-tempo team," Chalmers said. "They have a lot of fan support and of course a good coach."

Chalmers sees himself as a pass first guard, but he has confidence in his scoring ability. Chalmers can light it up, but knows the importance of getting his teammates involved.

"Passing is my greatest strength," said Chalmers. "I'm really a point guard who is always looking for teammates to pass to."

Both of Chalmers' parents are educators and have suggested that they will move to or near the school their son attends. Both parents can take an early retirement and they have no preference where they move. Since there are no D-I schools in Alaska, Chalmers says that distance has no bearing on his decision. His teams are spread all over the country and no region has an advantage over any other.

His father Ronnie is his high school coach and for the most part Mario likes playing for him.

"With your father as your coach you always know what's going on," Chalmers said. "You know he has your best interest at heart. You don't know that about all coaches."

His mother also has a coaching background. As a YMCA league coach she instructed current Wildcat women's guard Natalie Jones. He and Jones speak when she comes back to Alaska, but she has not tried to sell him on her school…yet.

"She hasn't said much," Chalmers said. "This summer was the first time I've seen her since she left for school. We didn't talk much, but we probably will."

While the decision is invariably his, both parents will have a say in where he goes to school. He has no timetable for committing to a school and will wait until it feels right.

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