Entering the 2003 Speice event, we'd heard the knocks on guard A.J. Ratliff. Some said he didn't play hard, others said he was inconsistent. After watching him twice, to us, he just looked like a player.
We caught up with Ratliff on Wednesday night when he was preparing for an all-star game in Indiana.
"They say I'm inconsistent but I make the game easy," Ratliff said. "People think that I don't sweat. I play hard, I just don't look it."
One of the easiest ways to classify a guard is to call him a combo guard. In real time, that could mean he's probably not a great two guard or shooter and lacks some instincts to play the point; or a combination of things.
We try to avoid classifying guys as combos for that reason but Ratliff defies the stereotype. He can handle, passes well, thinks the game and can score. He's a natural combo guard on the college level.
"I love to score. I can play point too. I'm just now being referred to as a combo guard."
Ratliff recently took his SAT and can't make a visit until the score comes back. He'll take the ACT this weekend. Right now, he's got five pretty good offers. He wants to decide before the beginning of the next school year.
Iowa, Xavier, Marquette, Connecticut and Purdue have offered. Kansas recently called on him and saw him play last year.
Right now, we'd be willing to venture a guess that Iowa, Xavier and UConn look strong. Memphis used to be in the mix, but according to Ratliff, fell off pace when Darius Washington committed. Tigers assistant Tony Barbee went to the same high school as Ratliff and they have a very good relationship. "They're still recruiting me but I don't know with them signing another guard."
Last season, Ratliff averaged 18 points.