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Milton's Scott Among Country's Top Point Guards

By Jim Halley, USA TODAY

ALPHARETTA, GA -- Shannon Scott might not be the top scorer for Milton (Alpharetta, Ga.), the No. 1 team in the USA TODAY Super 25 preseason boys basketball rankings, but he's the Eagles' most irreplaceable player.

As the team's senior point guard, the Ohio State signee has played so many minutes the past few years that Milton coach David Boyd worries about who will replace him next year. Scott is the son of former NBA player Charlie Scott.

"Shannon is just an unselfish player - he's not that concerned with scoring," Boyd says. "It's funny, because his dad (20.7 points a game in 10 pro seasons) never saw a shot he didn't like."

The top five teams in the USA TODAY Super 25 share one attribute - a future Division I point guard. While not all of them are pass-first point guards, they share the ability to control the game when it matters most.

No. 2 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) has Myck Kabongo, who's headed to Texas next year. No. 3 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) plucked Duke signee Quinn Cook from DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.). No. 4 Winter Park, Fla., has two players who can play the point in crunch time, Duke signee Austin Rivers and Florida Atlantic signee Brett Comer. No. 5 Melrose (Memphis) got a lot better when Manassas (Memphis) guard Joe Northington arrived as a transfer.

"The first thing that I look for is to make sure I've got a good point guard," Oak Hill coach Steve Smith says. "The better our point guard, the better our team has been. With my team turning over every year, we have to have a guy who can lead our team. If I don't have a good point guard with the schedule we play every year, we're in trouble."

Besides the fact it is a private boarding school that can recruit, Oak Hill has been consistently good partly because of an impressive run of point guards who have made it to the NBA, including most recently Steve Blake, Rajon Rondo, Ty Lawson and Brandon Jennings.

"I've had nine kids who've played the point for me who played in the NBA," Smith says. "I put a lot of trust in them. It seems the guys I have the best relationship (with) are my point guards. I spend a lot of time talking with them in practice and in my office, one-on-one, reiterating what I want them to do on the floor. A coach needs to have a good relationship with his point guard without putting too much pressure on him."

Smith's current point guard, Cook, averaged 20 points and 5.9 assists last season at DeMatha. In three games with Oak Hill, it's 23 points and 12 assists.

"I like a pass-first point guard, but he can score," Smith says. "Most of the ones I've had could score, but there's been a few exceptions. Quinn is a pass-first guy, but he can score and he's a shooter. You have to guard him. You can't play off of him. Rajon was different. He didn't shoot the ball that well, but you couldn't stop him from getting to the basket."

Another overlooked ability for good point guards is the strength to fight through double-teams and presses.

"Shannon has improved because he's gotten a lot stronger," Boyd says. "He's spent a lot of time in the weight room. He knew he was going to have to get bigger and stronger to play at the highest level."

Over the summer, Rivers' father, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, saw Scott's team lose an AAU game and told him he should never give up the ball in the fourth quarter.

"He's been so good," Boyd says. "We're doing our best to try to groom our next guy, but it's been hard because I can't take Scott out of the game."


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