Marcus Ginyard: Lock Down

UNC-bound combo guard Marcus Ginyard of Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.) is a dominant defensive force.

This article appears in the December 2004 edition of SchoolSports magazine.

Walk into Marcus Ginyard's room and it won't take long to figure out what one of his passions is. Car magazines are scattered all around and climb in teetering stacks toward the ceiling. Motor Trend. Automobile. Truckin'.

"If it has cars in it, I've got it," says Ginyard, a senior guard at Bishop O'Connell who's rated the nation's No. 38 overall hoop recruit in the Class of 2005 by "I collect dealership books on cars, too. I have tons of 'em. Just the other night, some friends and I went to the Mercedes dealership and looked at cars for like three and a half hours. What can I say? It's my thing."

It just so happens Ginyard has another "thing" he pours his passion into. And in that forum, he doesn't just look. He dominates.

One of the nation's elite combo guards (able to play the point or off-guard), the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Ginyard committed to the University of North Carolina in October of his junior year and intends for his outstanding passing, ball-handling and defensive skills to allow him to make an immediate contribution for the Tar Heels next season.

Of course, Ginyard has had a thing for cars for so long, it's hard for him to remember which came first — his love of flashy rides or his love of roundball.

He does, however, recall his first craving to hang around a hoop locale. Interestingly enough, it was Chapel Hill, N.C., where his brother, Ron, now a Bishop O'Connell assistant coach, attended Dean Smith's basketball camp every summer.

"I was like 8 years old and I hated that ride all the way back from North Carolina after dropping my brother off," says Ginyard, 17, who averaged 13.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.5 steals per game last season to lead the Knights to a 30-4 record and the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title. "I couldn't go until I was 10, and I hated when he'd go and then I'd have to go all the way home."

Little brother did ultimately get to attend Smith's camp, but that's not where he developed his basketball commitment. The intensity and total investment that make his car obsession seem like a forgotten hobby by comparison came years later.

"It was probably the summer before my junior year," says Ginyard. "That's when it hit me. It was like, ‘Yeah, the first two years he's been good, but he's not getting totally into it.' You realize that if you're going to be the best player out there, you've got to prove it every night."

But it's one thing to do that at the high school level. It's quite another in front of 21,000 fans at UNC's Dean E. Smith Center.

"There's a point where I feel nervous about that," admits Ginyard. "But I'm ready to be challenged at that level. At first, it was like, ‘Wow, I'm going to UNC!' Now it's like, ‘When am I going?'"

There's little question, however, about why he's going. After all, how could the Tar Heels not love the way this kid plays defense?

"He can take anyone out of a game, that's how tremendous a defensive player he is," says Bishop O'Connell sixth-year head coach Joe Wootten, 31, whose Hall of Fame father, Morgan, retired in 2002 with a then-record 1,274 career wins in 46 years at DeMatha. "[UNC coach Roy] Williams said he has great feet, which is dead-on. But a lot of guys have great feet. Marcus has that desire to get down there and play the kind of defense that takes advantage of his feet. He has a great heart, too. That's what makes the difference."

Ginyard says his attention to defense is a simple question of mathematics. Who cares if you can score if you can't stop your own man?

"There comes a point where you have to take pride in every trip," he says. "Take my favorite player, T-Mac. He'll go out and score 40 and his man gets 38. What good does that do you? I love it when a team comes in and everybody's saying about my guy, ‘This guy can score, this guy can score.' Yeah? That's good. Let's see if he can score on me."

Being a player whose reputation is built on a skill that's so blue-collar has its disadvantages. A great night can go almost completely unnoticed. But that doesn't really bother Ginyard.

"The people who don't notice the small things sound like a lot less of a basketball intellectual when they talk about the game," says Ginyard. "Everybody wants to talk to the guy who had 30, but over in the corner is the guy who had two but was setting nasty screens all night so the guy could get his 30. With the small things, there are a lot of really talented players who can't do them. Things that I, personally, think I can do."

So having that kind of game is probably a huge advantage in the limelight of the ACC compared to a blue-chip gunner who lives and dies by the trifecta.

"I think you're exactly right about that," says Ginyard. "I think I'll have an advantage in that aspect at the next level. When you're a shooter, all the eyes are on you. But if you're just digging in and playing defense, nobody's going to notice how you're playing, either way. That kind of takes the pressure off."

No matter how Ginyard's game translates to the next level, there's one ingredient Wootten says will be an advantage in every circumstance.

"He does a tremendous job of doing what it takes to win," says Wootten. "Whether it's taking that key charge or making that one defensive stop or pulling down that big rebound, the key is his unselfishness. It's not about what he does. It's about the team."

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