Top guard taking his time

Alaska's Mario Chalmers can score with the best of them, but he is also an excellent passer. He'll be ranked among the country's best point guards, but he could easily be one of the best two-guards in the country as well.

Alaska might not be a hotbed for basketball recruiting, but guys like Carlos Boozer and Trajon Langdon proved that some very good players do emerge from up north. Class of 2005 guard Mario Chalmers appears to be the next great player to come out of Alaska. He is getting serious looks from Marquette, Kansas, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Arizona and Wisconsin.

At this point he doesn't have a favorite but he does have a favorite style of play and that is a benefit for Arizona.

"I like the up and down game," Chalmers said. "I like to push the ball up the court."

When asked what he was looking for in a school, Chalmers had a long laundry list of requirements.

"Good academics, good basketball facilities, good workout facilities and good coaches," Chalmers listed. "I want a place I can fit in."

Asked specifically about Arizona and it was clear that Chalmers knows a lot about Lute Olson and his program.

"They like to run and push the ball up the floor," Chalmers said. "They are a top program with a top coach."

His Bartlett squad recently played in a tournament in Tennessee and Chalmers loved taking the floor against better competition.

"It was very excellent," Chalmers said of the event. "The competition was more stiff down there. It was good to face those players."

His team is 4-2 early into the season. Chalmers is averaging over 20 points per game and leads the club in assists. Although he is a top guard, the 6-2 player compares himself to the much taller Tracy McGrady. What's funny is he compares himself to McGrady, but his description of his game does not sound a whole lot like the Orlando Magic star.

"I'm best at getting the ball to people," Chalmers said. "I'm a good shooter, but I pass a lot."

His father coaches him at Bartlett and, while some players don't like the pressure of playing for their fathers, Chalmers loves it.

"It's good, I know he will do what's in my best interest," Chalmers confessed.

His mother is also a basketball coach. She coached current UA women's guard Natalie Jones in junior high. Last time we spoke with Chalmers he had not heard from Jones since she went to Tucson, but that has changed.

"I saw her this summer," Chalmers said. "She's talked to me about coming to Arizona, but she hasn't given me the pressure sell."

Jones loves it at Arizona and said she wants Chalmers to know just how good life is in The Old Pueblo.

"He's a real good player," Jones said. "I'll keep talking to him about how nice Arizona is."

Chalmers is an elite player in the class of 2005, but he's in no rush to make a decision. He hasn't decided what summer events he will attend and has not set a timetable for choosing a school. He says that distance is not a real factor since there are no big time programs close to home. He does know he wants to study communications, but hasn't planned much more.


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