A year ago at this time, I was writing about the dire emergency need for Stanford Basketball to successfully recruit big men in the 2004 class. Mike Montgomery and crew successfully located and landed a pair of promising frontcourt players in center Peter Prowitt and combo forward Taj Finger. There is still a real chance to add "the next Justin Davis" in the form of Maryland power forward Davis Nwankwo. But the Card are without any ballhandler in this senior class, which is just as disappointing as the big men are exciting. In fact, unless some semi-sleeper senior guard arives in the spring, Montgomery will be left with just a single guard in the last two signing classes. That spells bad news for both the point guard and shooting guard positions for Stanford's future, but there are some putative saviors on the board in the 2005 class that turn that outlook right around.
Some of those prospects are national names from the East and Midwest, but we have learned through the years that recruiting West Coast kids is so much easier for Stanford. Distance from home is removed as a concern, and regional recruits tend to take unofficial visits during their junior years, which solidify their bond with Stanford in an immeasurable way.
During the summer I had a brief peek at an intriguing combo guard from Los Angeles who was flying pretty low on the '05 public recruiting radar, but is making waves now during his junior season. 6'3" Anthony Goods (Centennial High School - Corona, CA). Goods plays during the summer for the "Spirit of the North" AAU squad but is getting more acclaim now in the L.A. high school scene. His stock took a big leap forward this past week when heralded West Coast recruiting analyst Greg Hicks wrote this about the young athlete:
Very good, live body with a solid frame and very good athleticism. Excellent stroke with range beyond the stripe. We didnt get a great look at his ball-handling abilities, as he went against a very disciplined and well-coached zone from Santa Margarita and there were few opportunities for penetration. But, based on what we saw, Goods looks to be one of the elite point guard prospects in the West Coast class of 2005.
The debate is alive as to whether Goods will be play the shooting or point guard positions at the college level, but he is a scorer by training and instinct, still learning how to handle the ball and run an offense. This year at Centennial HS his coach is using him more and more as the floor general, which is at times a difficult transition for the junior guard.
"Naturally I am a scorer, but I can play both positions," he proclaims. "It's hard sometimes. I try to keep everybody happy, but when things go wrong, I usually take matters in my own hands and take over."
His handle is tightening up, and he is learning through experience how to balance his scoring and distribution roles, but for a team like Centennial that loves to get out and run in transition, Goods is also learning the fine art of the fast break.
"I feel like I'm learning what to do better at the different levels in transition," the junior guard explains. "The first level has the defenders, who you have to break through. But when you get to the second level, you need to finish. You have to look at the angles with your teammates and make a precision pass or take it yourself."
For his part, Goods is averaging 15 points and five assists on the 11-7 Centennial squad. The one stat he feels he could markedly improve, though, is the last you look for with a combo guard.
"I really need to step up my rebounding," he self-effaces. "I know my athleticism and it's something I know I can do. Coach doesn't stress rebounding while I'm our point guard, but I'm athletic enough to go out and get us six [rebounds] per game."
Though Goods and his teammates love to get out on the break, he can score from several spots on the floor. He will hit one or two three-pointers per game, and when he does get in transition, he can drive to the basket or pull up for mid-range jumpers.
But better than numbers or lofty scouting reports, this competitive young man is most proud about a pair of wins thus far this year against a rival opponent. In his sophomore year, Centennial was absolutely blown out by Fontana High School. They have faced off twice already this year, with the "Goods guys" getting their revenge.
"When they blew us out last year, they completely disrespected us," the sometimes fiery floor leader admits.
Centennial topped Fontana in mid-December when Goods exploded for 25 points and nine assists in a 79-75 overtime victory at a Murrieta Valley tournament. His free throws in the final minute put the game into the extra period, where he scored nine huge points. The two teams met again this month, with Centennial crushing in a 19-point home win; Goods scored 23 points and dished six assists.
With these performances and a game rapidly evolving as a point guard, it comes as no surprise that the 6'3" 185-pound junior guard is receiving more and more attention from college coaches. He says that the three schools he likes best, and who are most serious toward him, are Arizona, Villanova and Stanford.
"I would also like to hear more from Cal and the Georgia schools - Georgia and Georgia Tech," he adds. Few people know this, but Goods lived in Stone Mountain, GA through the seventh grade and holds a soft spot for the state and Atlanta area.
"Stanford is probably my number one school right now," Goods offers. "I call Stanford once a week. We talk about my season and I ask questions about their games and preparation. I'm really close with Coach [Tony] Fuller and Coach [Turner], but I like Coach [Eric] Reveno, too. The whole staff is really easy to talk to. I know they have some needs at the guard spots, and I think I could probably follow in the footsteps of Chris Hernandez. Though I know those will be big shoes to fill!"
As strong as any sign for a junior recruit is the progress he is making towards the Stanford admissions process. I was surprised to learn from Goods that he received the admissions application from the coaches just before Christmas and is already working on it.
"I couldn't believe it," he recalls of his reaction when he opened the packet. "That thing is intense. I worked on the general information section first to get me rolling, though. Now I'm on the essays. I have my semester finals right now, but I think I'll probably get mostly A's and one B."
Goods carries a 4.1 GPA at Centennial High School, including honors points. He has also scored a 1020 on the SAT, which is not what he or the Stanford staff want him to apply with. But that score came during his sophomore year, and Goods knows that he should do much better this year. He proclaims more confidence after having taken the test once, and he has used computer/Internet preparation software to improve his verbal score. Goods scored a lopsided 600 on the math section, but 420 on the verbal.
"The coaches told me to just focus on the verbal section, which is definitely the harder one," Goods reveals. "I'm working hard and much more confident now. I just need to get up a couple hundred points on the verbal, and I'll be OK."
He sat down Saturday for the first SAT of 2004 and will have a score soon. If that score is what he hopes it to be, and his junior first semester grades come in on target, he could be equipped for winter admissions submission and decision. Stanford appears to be doing a great job in recruiting him, and he loves what he has seen from them on television this undefeated season. He additionally attended the preseason game at UC Irvine.
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