Sometimes it's simply amazing how much players from the other side of the country know about Arizona basketball. Gary Ervin, a 5-11 point guard from Brooklyn, NY, is one of those players.
"Everybody knows about Arizona," Ervin said during our conversation. "Every point guard they've had is playing in the NBA. How can you not know about Arizona."
I watched Ervin play at the Nike All-American Camp in Indianapolis and I came away impressed. Not so much because of the things Ervin did at Nike, but what he didn't do. Most New York point guards are playground-type players, shake-and-bake and find a way to score. They are not always the unselfish players that get their teammates involved.
Ervin can score, there's little doubt about that. But he's definitely a pass first-shoot second playmaker who knows how to run the offense and get his teammates into the game. He's a born floor leader who can get into the lane and make things happen with pass, or he can finish. He can also hit the outside shot, but it most always comes from a pass and not by creating a shot for himself on the perimeter.
"My coaches told me that the coaches (at Nike) would be looking to see if I could run the team," Ervin said. "So I wanted to show them that I was a leader and a true point guard. They all know I can score."
Ervin admits that he's excited about Arizona recruiting him, but his list of schools is very long.
"Arizona is at the top," Ervin said. "But I've had a lot of schools calling me. UConn, Pitt, Temple, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Memphis, Alabama."
Ervin is confident in his ability, but he knows he needs to keep getting better.
"I can penetrate and hit the outside shot," he said. "And I can play defense. But I need to work on everything. I just need to keep getting better."
Lute Olson watched Ervin with a close eye at the Nike Camp. Apparently he came away as impressed as everyone else.
"Coach Olson has called me twice," Ervin said. "Coach Tention has called me too and so has Josh (Pastner). I've talked to the Arizona coaches a lot. I wish I could have taken my visit earlier, but I definitely want to visit this fall."
When asked about the distance factor when it comes time to make a decision, Ervin said, "If it's the best place for me, I don't care how far away it is. I'm going to go to the best school I can go to and Arizona is one of those schools."
Ervin will play for AAU powerhouse Riverside Church in the Nike Showdown in Orlando beginning July 22.
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