Posted On: 02/1/18 4:24 PM
Longtime NBA player Rod Strickland on Twitter recently questioned the need for the label “combo guard.”
While he made excellent points, for this exercise, we will use the term to discuss the next group of unsigned San Diego prospects.
A combo guard is player that fits somewhere in the middle between your traditional point guard and shooting guard. They could be point-guard sized guards who are best off the ball, or bigger guards who play point for their team, but could also play off the ball at the next level.
San Diego has several very high level combo guards still on the board in 2018. Who are they? Here’s the list:
2. Jalen Flanagan- 6-3 175, El Camino – The smooth scoring guard has turned himself into a bona fide scoring threat from all three levels. He can snake into the lane and score through contact, has a very strong mid-range repertoire and has become a playable threat from the three point line. His handle has improved, but he still gets loose with it on drives and struggles advancing the ball against quicker guards. Although he is wired to score, Flanagan has proven to be a willing passer. Defensively, Flanagan has all the tools to be a lockdown perimeter defender (very long arms, exceptional lateral quickness on defense), but needs to stay engaged all of the time on that end. Flanagan is a no-brainer I believe for high-level Division 2 schools, and sits right on the border as a D1 recruit.
3. Phillip Willis- 6-3 160, Maranatha Christian – The first small-school player on the list, Willis has proven his ability against top competition, first at Horizon, where he attended his first two years, and later on the travel circuit with San Diego All-Stars. Willis has impressive metrics (wingspan measured at 6-7) and plays with a smooth confidence. He is a strong shooter off the catch, but has improved his scoring from mid-range and short range over the course of his career. Willis is an exceptional rebounder for a guard (8.8 per game) which allows him to advance the ball in transition and find open teammates. His frame is slight (narrow shoulders, thin build), durability could become a concern. His effort level on defense needs to become more consistent to take advantage of his physical gifts on that end. Willis should be on Division 2 teams’ radars if he isn’t already.
4. Ryan Flowers- 6-2 165, Serra – One of the most explosive athletes in the region, Flowers is a physical specimen. He has elite lateral quickness, bounce and length, and uses them to his advantage on both ends. Flowers thrives on the defensive side of the ball, where he smothers ball handlers and forces them into turnovers or neutralizes them as scorers. Offensively, he can explode past defenders and score around the rim. But offensively is where his skills haven’t yet matched his athletic gifts. He is still very raw with his decision making and handle, and his shooting is inconsistent from both levels. I believe that if he attends a solid junior college, Flowers could one day be a coveted prospect, but needs junior college to refine his overall approach to the game.
5. Alex Cho – 6-2 190, La Jolla Country Day – Cho blends two rarely seen traits: he is a physical defender and a skilled offensive threat. Offensively, Cho is a solid shooter off the catch and can score off of straight line drives to the rim, usually favoring his right. He doesn’t possess a great midrange game, but is effective enough from the other levels to compensate for it. Defensively, he is a big, physical guard who takes pride in locking up his defender by using his improved lateral quickness to stay in front of his man. Cho is an elite student who is currently being recruited by academic powerhouses MIT and Caltech. But, if he does not choose to go that route, he could be a quality rotation player at the collegiate level.
6. Deondre McHayle, 6-1 190, Monte Vista – Built more like a linebacker than a basketball player, McHayle has worked hard to become more than a bully-ball player he had the reputation of being early in his career. The results have been largely positive, has he has become a very potent and prolific three-level scorer. McHayle uses his big body to attack the basket and keep defenders on his hip, and he can score with either hand, though he prefers his right. His mid-range pull-up has come a long way and is an effective weapon. He has a quick release on his shot from three, and while the results are streaky, they are an improvement from earlier in his career. McHayle has also improved as a passer, making nice plays in the pick-and-roll. Defensively, he has the ability to guard both guard positions due to his intriguing length and adequate foot speed. If he can continue to improve his conditioning, he’s an intriguing prospect to monitor.
7. Jayden Holloway- 6-0 175, Patrick Henry – The best word to describe Holloway is “pitbull.” Undersized for the two spot, Holloway makes up for it with an aggressive approach on offense, attacking the basket and scoring through contact at will. He has improved his shooting from the college three as well. Holloway also excels on the offensive glass, where his timing and quick second jump allows him to score putbacks at a solid rate. Defensively, Holloway has an excellent motor and gets after it on the ball and dives for loose balls and steals. He isn’t much of of a threat as a passer, as he is wired to score, so he would need to be paired with a bigger guard on the ball to avoid any defensive mismatches. Holloway is arguably the most improved player on this list.
8. Hassan Hunt – 6-2 165, High Tech High, Chula Vista – Hunt is a rapidly improved prospect both physically and with his game. His frame has filled out, and he looks the part of a college guard. The lefty has also improved his ball handling and driving ability to complement his solid shooting from deep. He no longer settles for the jump shot as frequently as he did in the past, instead he looks to attack and score or create for teammates off the bounce. Defensively, he has all the pieces to be a good defender at the next level, but he needs to improve his effort level and play more fundamentally sound on that end. Still, given his rapidly improving body and athleticism, Hunt has a ton of upside. His best days are ahead of him.
9. Anthony Mendoza – 6-2 180, Bonita Vista – Prolific scoring guard who is a deft scorer at all three levels. A methodical ball handler, Mendoza has excellent footwork, pace and patience on the offensive end. He thrives in the midrange, where he can hit step backs and pull-ups with the best of him, but his shooting from three is streaky, but effective. He isn’t the quickest player with teh ball in his hands, but makes up for it by having a very high IQ and being a willing passer. He is a physical defender who plays hard, which makes up for his lack of ideal lateral quickness.
Rahin Williams- 6-1 170, Montgomery – Athletic combo guard who plays on the wing for the undersized Aztecs. Solid straight-line driver who favors his right hand, and a streaky perimeter shooter. Williams is one of better defenders in the class, and possesses great lateral quickness and a nonstop motor. His ball skills need refinement.
Daron Traylor – 6-2 165, Mount Miguel – Smooth combo guard can score from all three levels, but needs to improve his shot selection and decision making with the pass (turnover prone). Lots of upside.
Jonathan Watts, 6-2 180, Rancho Bernardo – Physically strapping combo guard who makes sound decisions with the pass. Somewhat rigid off the dribble, but makes great decisions and can finish through contact. Decent perimeter shooter off the catch but needs space to get his shot off.
Jalnn Harrington – 6-2 160, Hoover – Long, crafty combo guard can handle the ball enough to initiate the offense, and can score off the catch and off the dribble. His jump shot is inconsistent, but not broken. Needs to play harder on the defensive side of the ball and offensively needs to develop his off hand.
Antonio Hale – 5-11 170, El Camino – Microwave-type scoring guard who can heat up in a hurry from three. Hale also has a quick first step and can get by his defender and looks to score at the rim through contact.
Ben Daugherty, 6-0 170, La Jolla Country Day – Dead-eye shooter and high IQ passer. Has improved as a ball handler, but still needs to gain confidence in his handle.
Nathaniel Romero – 6-1 185, Rancho Buena Vista – Fundamentally sound combo guard has improved dramatically year over year. Solid scoring threat and a capable ball handler and distributor.
Ryan Silva – 6-0 175, EC Southwest – Prolific shooting combo guard is automatic when his feet are set.
Chandler Daugherty – 6-0 180, La Costa Canyon – Solid undersized shooting guard prospect who can handle the ball in a pinch.
Jackson Curtis – 5-11, 165, La Costa Canyon – Quick, crafty scoring guard with a lethal jump shot.
Marquise Neal – 6-0 150, Mount Miguel – Very good spot-up shooter with deep range.
Kevin Carrillo – 5-11 150, Crawford – Shoots a rainbow of a three, but knocks it down with regularity. Solid right-hand dominant driver.