Shaun Livingston and Sebastian Telfair may have been the first point guards to make the jump straight from high school to the NBA, but the class of 2004 was far deeper than just two.
The group – now college sophomores – is making that clear this season.
Seven top-25 teams, including three in the top five, are lead by second year guards that will all soon join their counterparts in the NBA.
If Livingston and Telfair were at the head of their respective class, Memphis’ point guard Darius Washington Jr. wasn’t far behind.
Washington is best known for the foul shots he missed that cost the Tigers a trip to the NCAA tournament last season, but now he is the star of the nation’s fourth ranked team.
Despite battling an injury, Washington is averaging 14 points and 4 assists per game, while shooting a crisp 41 percent from three point range.
Staying in the top five, Villanova guard Kyle Lowry and Florida’s Taurean Green are also making major impacts for seemingly certain final four contenders.
Like Washington, Lowry has battled an injury early on but is a part of a special team that head coach Jay Wright has developed. The Wildcats throw four guards on the floor almost all of the time and play a tenacious defense, Lowry’s specialty.
Green, son of former UNLV star Sidney Green, has shot the lights out for a surprising Florida team.
The 6’0″ 177-lb guard is shooting 85 percent from the foul line and 45 percent from beyond the arc, including 10 in two days against Wake Forest and Syracuse at the Coaches Versus Cancer Classic.
Jordan Farmar is leading the resurgence of UCLA basketball. The 6’2″ guard is averaging over 16 points and 6 assists per game and seems to play better as the game gets bigger.
Farmar dropped 28 on Memphis earlier this season and scored 24 and 21 in recent victories over Nevada and Michigan.
Michigan State’s Drew Neitzel might be the best true point guard of the entire group. It’s become a cliché but this kid refuses to lose. Some believe his court awareness rivals that of any player in the country.
Daniel Gibson’s team received all of the pre season hype and despite recent losses, he is leading Texas to an impressive season.
Gibson contemplated entering the NBA draft last season but decided to stick around and play in one of the nation’s best backcourts.
Rajon Rondo received a ton of recognition this summer when he was the only player of the seven to make the under 21 national team.
He is currently averaging just under 17 points per game and like Farmar, plays better under pressure. Rondo torched Louisville for 25 points in Kentucky’s win on Saturday and scored 20 in a loss to defending national champion North Carolina.
All in all, it’s a good bet that at least one of these (excuse the Dick Vitale reference) sensational sophomores will help their team on a deep run though the NCAA tournament in March.
And to think, what if Livingston (Duke) and Telfair (Louisville) followed through on their commitments?