Shaun Livingston A Man Among Boys

<p>Flash Flanagans Showcase Event had many no-shows yesterday at Illinois Wesleyan's Shirk Center. Shaun Livingston was not one of them. For the people who have never seen him play, lets just say you've been warned. Shaun Livingston has long been named the next big thing out of Peoria. He is living up to that expectation right before our eyes.

Shaun Livingston has many strengths to his game that have been written about and publicized for the last 3 years. An uncanny court vision is one of them. A passing wizard is another that comes to mind. What one doesn't think of is that Shaun has a deadly outside jumper. I'm here to tell you that it's developing and watch out if it does. Shaun has improved strength over the last year and that has enabled him to shoot it more consistently. Also he's been in the gym and playing all summer long. I talked to his dad earlier this summer and he informed me that shooting was the main thing Shaun was working on. It has paid off.

Shaun has an amazing repertoire of basketball moves. He runs the floor like a deer making crisp passes to open teammates and throwing the occasional jaw dropping no look passes that leave you saying how did he do that? As a 6'7 point guard you don't have to think long as to why he dominates the high school level. This summer he put his talent up against NBA player and former University of Illinois standout Frank Williams at the Peoria Gus Macker. It was an Illini fans dream come true. Livingston held his own but his team lost by a narrow margin. It was just a glimpse of what is to come from Shaun.

Here is a breakdown of Shaun Livingstons game:

1. Passing- This is where Shaun stands out above the rest. His court vision is simply amazing. He will always hit his man in stride and you have to be ready if you're playing with him. Even if you think the pass cannot be made he will find a way to do it. One reason is because of his height, the other is that he is a natural passing talent. Some guys were just born to pass the rock. Shaun takes great pride in this aspect of his game. In an era where guys that score get all the accolades, Shaun dominates them with his passing. It's a beautiful thing to watch.

2. Dribbling- Shaun can do anything he wants with the ball. He has extremely long arms and can make a defender look helpless as he taunts them with his dribbling. This is where Shaun can take advantage of a defender. He will set them up with a couple cross overs or hesitation moves and then he's gone to the hoop.

3. Shooting- What once was Shaun's biggest weakness is becoming a strength. Last year I walked away from a couple of his games wondering how he could be so highly ranked if he couldn't knock down a 3 or shoot a medium range jumper with consistency. It was never his form that was in question. It was strength and now that he's got that the jumper is falling effortlessly. In my opinion, this is what makes him unguardable now because he is a triple threat. He can take you off the dribble, burn you with a no look pass to a teammate, or drop a 3 in your face. I give props to Shaun for realizing this was his weakness and turning it into a strength. That is the sign of a focused player.

4. Speed- Shaun would lose in sprints to some other guards. What you want to look for in a guy like Livingston is his burst. You want to see if he can burn the other defender with a quick first step. Shaun can do it and with his long body once he gets some daylight he's gone.

5. Jumping Ability- Shaun can get up! He is the recipient of lots of alley-oops and he gets nice elevation on his jumper. He has had some injury problems in the past but it hasn't seemed to deter his hops.

6. Strength- Shaun will never be a strong armed guard. What he has added is muscle tone and strength in his legs. He can make up for some of his strength due to his length. Once Shaun is put on a college or pro program I could see him having a Scottie Pippen like body. He couldn't get to much bigger than that.

7. Defense- Shaun is a great defender. As I've noted before he uses his long arms, quick hands, height, and deceptive speed to gain an advantage. He seems to take great pride in his defense. Shaun has admitted that the only guys he has real trouble guarding are the short and super quick guys. In college he would most likely be guarding a 2 guard or the wing forward so that would eliminate the problem. However, the short quick guys cannot guard him either so it works both ways.

Shaun Livingston is a special player. I can see him fitting it very well with Duke, Arizona, or Illinois. This recruitment is going to come down to the wire with Illinois getting the last visit. The NBA is also a possibility if Shaun is guaranteed a top 5 pick. Fans will know lots more in the coming month. He will visit Arizona and then Illinois on October 25th and will announce a decision in Novemeber. He will not be signing until the spring which is a good decision on his part. Whether you're a Blue Devil, Wildcat, or Illini fan, cross your fingers until then.

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