Closed for Repair
Georgia Tech’s point guard factory is closed.
by Donnell Suggs
The first one came out of nowhere, literally nowhere, Bartlesville, OK to be exact. Mark Price was coach Bobby Cremin’s first All-ACC point guard, All-American point guard and NBA point guard at Georgia Tech.
Price was the epitome of cool at the point guard position and went on to become a two-time All-American and four-time All-ACC pick, winning conference Player of the Year in 1985. Shortly after Price left school to take over the point for the Cleveland Cavs (Oh, those poor Cavs! Why LeBron, why?) and play in four All-Star games while winning two-straight Three-point Shootouts, Coach Cretins found his predecessor in arguably New York City’s greatest high school player, point guard Kenny Anderson.
A four time All-City selection, Anderson, who didn’t even start a game as a freshman at Arch Bishop Malloy, had his pick of schools but chose Tech and changed the expectations at the school forever in terms of point guard play. The 1990 Final Four team was nicknamed Lethal Weapon Three, forward Dennis Scott and guard Brian Oliver both played in the League but the catalyst was the Rego Park, Queens native Anderson. Kenny — what New Yorkers still call him today — was a freshman but still had the juice to take and hit a game-winner against Michigan State that pushed Tech into the Elite 8 before beating Minnesota 93-91 (Anderson had 30 points in the game) for the rights to play eventual champs UNLV.
The 1991 team didn’t make the championship game — that UNLV team was awesome — but did manage to become Tech’s first Final Four team, a distinction they held until the 2004 season. Drafted second overall by the New Jersey Nets, Anderson went on to start the 1994 NBA All-Star game and play for a number of teams during a solid 14-year career that was capped by a season in Lithuania with BC Zalgiris. 1992 saw Anderson leave and fellow high school All-American point guard Travis Best take over the point guard reigns.
A McDonald’s All-American out of Springfield, MA, Best made the All-ACC Third Team as a sophomore, and the All-ACC Second Team as both a junior and senior. Though his teams never got to a Final Four they were a regular to the Tournament and a tough out. That makes three point guards drafted into the NBA from one school in a seven-year span — two first round picks (Best was the 23rd overall to Indiana in 1995) and an early second round pick (Price was the 25th pick back when the League had less first round picks) cemented Georgia Tech’s reputation for turning out pro point guards. 1996 All-Everything New York City All-American floor general Stephon Marbury would only solidify that fact.
Better guards might have played college ball during that span but never have they all come off of the same campus. Marbury came to Georgia Tech as the nation’s No. 1 point guard and arguably guard period (Vince Carter and Ron Mercer might have argued that point back then), he along with fellow guard Drew Barry and hard working forward and Atlanta native Matt Harpring led Tech to a 24-12 regular season record and to the Sweet 16 losing to Cincinnati. An All-ACC selection and Third Team All-American, Marbury left Tech after his frosh season and was selected fourth by Milwaukee in the 1996 NBA Draft (Minnesota traded picks with the Bucks swapping UConn All-American guard Ray Allen for Marbury in draft night trade).
To say Stephon has had a checkered career would be an understatement. Let’s just put it this way: He played last season for the Shanxi Zhongy Brave Dragons of the Chinese basketball Association (CBA). Marbury averaged over 20 points per game last season and won MVP of the All-Star game with 30 points and 10 assists.
In 2000, Georgia Tech finished the season at 13-17, 5-11 in the ACC, Coach Cretins failed to field a proper ‘Georgia Tech-type’ point guard and it showed. Coach Cremins retired and the job of putting a good team on the floor at Alexander Memorial Coliseum was given to current coach Paul Hewitt. Hewitt has not had the same level of success in the point guard department as his predecessor, having only two lead guards drafted in the first round during his current 10-year tenure: Jarrett Jack a 2005 first round pick (22nd overall to Portland via Denver) and locker room tough guy, and Atlanta native Javaris Crittenton (first round selection of the Lake Show back in ’07).
Arizona transfer and 2004 Final Four team standout Will Bynum is playing in the League after a few seasons overseas. 23-13 this past season, losing in the second round to Ohio State, Hewitt and the Ramblin’ Wreck had missed the two previous NCAA Tournaments and three out the last four, quite a fall from the Final Four season. The lack of quality point guard play has to have something to do with this trend. Current Yellow Jacket point man Iman Shumpert, a McDonald’s All-American out of Oak Park, IL has to step up his 10 ppg and 3 apg averages in order to restart the proud Georgia Tech point guard tradition.
Good luck young fella, it’s quite a tradition that seems to be long gone.