So far, so good for Bayless

He looks to be the best prospect to come out of the state of Arizona since Richard Jefferson. Jerryd Bayless has a lot of pressure on him, but so far he looks like he is going to live up to the billing.

Arizona has not been a hotbed of basketball recruits. In recent years the Grand Canyon State has sent more and more players to high major D-I schools, but only a few have made huge impacts. Mike Bibby and Richard Jefferson are NBA standouts, and Channing Frye looks to join them. Although players like Matt Haryasz, Lawrence Hill and Joey Shaw have the potential to be really good college players, Jerryd Bayless may be the next Arizonan to have a chance to be a superstar.

The natural comparison is to Mike Bibby. Like Bibby, Bayless is a point guard and a player who has attracted attention from a young age. Richard Jefferson was a high school All-American, but was a relative unknown until his performance at the Nike All-American Camp. Channing Frye looks to be a lottery pick, but he was an unknown coming out of Saint Mary's High School in Phoenix.

Bayless has a chance to join these guys. He's got a lot of developing to do, but he has the raw athleticism and innate basketball sense that you look for in a player.

"We've long considered Bayless one of the best guards in the west regardless of class," said West Coast recruiting analyst Greg Hicks. "There are very few 6-1 players in the country that have the springs he has, enabling him to throw down on much bigger and stronger players." Right now all of the big time programs are pursuing the 2007 guard.

"Right now I'm listing Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina," Bayless said.

He claims no leader but does admit that Arizona and Texas are pursuing him the hardest.

Many assume that Bayless and the Wildcats are a natural fit. After all, when was the last time Lute Olson failed to land in in-state recruit that he really wanted? Bayless is not locked into becoming a Wildcat, but does like the program to the south. "I like the way Arizona gets up and down the court and I love the coaching staff right now," Bayless admits.

Arizona may be "Point Guard U." but Texas has had a lot of recent success in developing point guards. That success appeals to the Bayless as well. "With Texas I like their style of play and how they had T.J. Ford come in," Bayless explained. "How they coach a point guard and what they do with him."

Bayless has taken a couple of unofficial visits to Tucson "because they are right down the street."

He has seen a few Wildcat games and liked the style of play the Cats employ. "I like their fast-paced game," Bayless said. "I like the way they play. I like Lute Olson. I like Josh Pastner a lot. I like the whole team."

The Wildcats may be close to home, but Bayless insists that he does not feel the need to stay close to home. The school that lands him is the school that he feels most at home at.

Bayless is wildly talented, but he isn't a finished product by any means. He wants to be a point guard exclusively, but many feel that he is better suited as a combo guard or even a two guard. Bayless has great floor sense and vision, but still tries to score more than he does to distribute.

"We would have liked, though, to see him develop more of his point guard skills in the last year," Hicks admitted. "He's still an exceptional two guard, but with his talent and athleticism, the ceiling was limitless as a point guard."

Bayless is a long way from living up to the hype, but that is mainly because the hype is so great. Make no mistake Bayless is good, and by the time he steps onto a college campus he could very well be great.

Matt Messina contributed to this story.

E-mail Brad at bradallis@msn.com


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