From Magic Johnson to Jason Kidd to Steve Nash, the world has seen an incredible collection of point guards throughout the years. So much so, that we consider those types “true” point guards, even in the modern era—where there are little to none. The question needs to be asked, “What qualifies someone to be a true point guard?” The answer is pretty straightforward but everyone seems to have their own interpretation of it. For starters, being able to make others better is an essential trait in any real floor general. Then, it’s a combination of being able to make smart, decisive passes while truly taking care of the ball.
Why are these players so few and far-between? Well, it’s mainly a trickle-down effect from the NBA. Teams have bought into the downhill specialists like John Wall, De’Aaron Fox, and Russell Westbrook or the long-distance bombers like Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, and Trae Young. Chris Paul is probably the last true point guard in the league but even he has been forced into more of a scoring role with this OKC squad. There’s just no pressing need to have a guy that small on the floor anymore, as most teams would prefer to initiate offense through a non-point guard or their superstar (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic).
All of that background information was presented simply to highlight some of the most notable true point guards in North Carolina. Although all teams don’t put stats on MaxPreps, we will be using that as a reference point (while also factoring in team structure and strength of schedule). Guys like Breon Pas, Bobby Pettiford, Rashod Smith, and Demetrius Washington are towards the top of the list in terms of assists per game but each also score at least 18 PPG. The label is really meant for players that aren’t typically asked to burden the scoring load. While there are many noteworthy names on this list, Nik Graves and Daylin Brown are the two that best encompass the identity of a true point guard. Neither Brown nor Graves is near the top of the assist list but certainly will be in time.
As a freshman, Brown has already become a focal point of the post-Day’Ron Sharpe/Shykeim Phillips South Central squad. He’s somewhat undersized, but already possesses an elite IQ and understands how to run a team as efficiently as anyone. Brown’s passing is far beyond his years, able to see breakdowns and openings before they even happen, and then exploit it with sharp, crafty assists. He touches the paint basically whenever he wants but is always looking for cutters and kick-outs when the defense collapses. Brown is displaying a special feel for the game at a very early stage and genuinely feels like a player preparing to take the state by storm over the next three seasons.
On the other hand, we have Graves, who is much more in the spotlight than Brown simply because he plays at Durham Academy and alongside superstar MJ Rice. His ability to dictate the pace, able to slow it down or speed it up, is a major part of what makes him such an effective floor general. Graves is so savvy with the ball in his hands, never looking uncomfortable, pressured/rushed, and always appearing confident with his decision-making. He has the size, craftiness, and ball-handling to get by opposing guards and make plays within the paint. Graves possesses quality size, which allows him see over the defense in the open floor and run the two-man game with poise.
It’s easy to become enamored with highlight-reel dunks, flashy ball-handling, and everything else but the true point guard is only worried about winning. Both the aforementioned guys are already scholarship-level talents and should only continue turning heads over the next few years. They’ve built their foundation in a major way, so it’ll be exciting to see who are the upcoming true point guards set to emerge going forward.