Mario Chalmers is the real deal

Arizona's top guard target is Mario Chalmers. The Alaskan point guard has done nothing but strengthen his reputation since starting the summer circuit. He was phenomenal at the Pump & Run event in Las Vegas. He proved his mettle in a match-up against Rotary Select and another top rated point guard. We spoke with Chalmers to find out just where he's at in recruiting.

He's got five schools that he feels are probably a firm list. Arizona, North Carolina, UCLA, Marquette and Wake Forest are all in the running and Chalmers all but said the five were his final five. That could possibly change as a number of teams come on strong. Assistants from Georgia Tech were at every game of the tournament, making sure he knew they were there. Even so, Chalmers told two Cat Tracks reporters as well as writers from TheInsiders and other publications the same list on several different occasions.

The one knock on Chalmers is that he has not played the best competition in his home state of Alaska. The 50th state produces top-tier players about once every four years, so there were some doubts, though not many, that he couldn't put up the big numbers against top competition.

Any fears have been eased. In fact, if Chalmers did anything in Las Vegas, he raised his stock and proved that he is indeed a top-5 point guard and a likely top=25 player.

His duel with Terrence Williams was a classic. Although Williams got the win, Chalmers scored 26 and was the main reason his team hung with the more talented opponent from Seattle.

"He's definitely top-20, top-15 on a good day," Williams said after his match-up with Chalmers.

In the three games we watched Chalmers scored 25, 17 and 26. More impressive he led a team that was thrown together for the first time at the event to a 3-1 record and almost upset the Rotary Select team that has been together for years and is traditionally a powerhouse.

Chalmers was just happy for the chance to showcase his skills against good competition.

"Here everyone plays hard," Chalmers said. "No one has a weak spot on their team. In Alaska there are a lot of weak teams."

Chalmers is the real deal. He was easily the best point guard we saw all weekend. He is a good scorer, but an amazing floor leader. He sees the floor very well and makes great passes. He easily gets to the hole but is more apt to dish than shoot.

"I like getting everybody involved and pushing the ball up the court," Chalmers said.

He's a great athlete. He has terrific hops and amazingly quick hands. He's a solid defender and is one of the rare point guards that also plays very well away from the ball.

Chalmers has already visited the Wildcats and says that the visit went very well and that the Cats will be in it until the end. He visited during the season and had the good fortune of watching a game at McKale as well as getting to take in a Lute Olson practice.

"I liked it a lot," Chalmers said. "They really showed me a lot, how I could fit into the program."

The Cats already have a young point guard in the fold, but have taken a lot of time to show Chalmers how he would fit in with Mustafa Shakur, assuming that Shakur is on the roster in two seasons. In fact, Shakur was one of his hosts and the two had no trouble getting along.

The other schools on his lists also have young top-tier point guards in place or on the way next season. UCLA and North Carolina have Jordan Farmar and Quentin Thomas on the way, while Wake Forest has the superb Chris Paul in place.

He has no other visits scheduled, and has no set plans for more visits, although he's trying to line up some things in the spring.

His parents are educators, so obviously academics are important. Chalmers mentions a school's academics in every conversation.

"I'd like a school with good academics," Chalmers said. "A school with good basketball facilities and has the best chances for me to have a career outside of college and outside of basketball."

Photos by Carl F. Shifflette III


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