You win with guards. Not just any 'ol guards, obviously, but good ones. We're talking ones that can handle the ball under pressure, make the right decisions and score when needed. They provide some leadership, maybe some toughness if you've got a really good one. And, oh, hit key free throws down the stretch
Put a couple of ballhandlers out there with good court sense and scoring ability, and the wins will come and the coaching will look good.
As we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season, there are several bonafide, top-flight backcourts that will surely carry teams this winter.
With Marist senior guard L.J. McIntosh committing to Pan American on Sunday, it forms yet another Division I-bound backcourt to watch in the Chicago area this coming season. McIntosh, who quietly put together a solid junior year last season, teams up with Valpo-bound point guard Lexus Williams to give coach Gene Nolan a rock solid, dependable Division I backcourt.
The Marist duo is one of many backcourts in the Chicago area filled with either Division I commits or Division I potential. Here is a look at several of the elite guard tandems in the Chicago area this coming season.
➠ Billy Garrett, Jr. and Kyle Davis at Morgan Park
When you think of the talent coach Nick Irvin will get to play with this winter, it doesn't end with Garrett and Davis in the backcourt. It does, however, certainly start there. There is size, experience and shooting ability with Garrett. There is electric explosiveness and scoring with Davis. The DePaul-bound Garrett, a 6-4 point guard and four-year starter, will be teamed with Davis, the recent Dayton commit, to form what is arguably the top backcourt in the state. The talented guard depth at Morgan Park also includes up-and-coming 6-3 junior guard Torry Johnson and promising sophomore guard Kain Harris, a pair of young Division I prospects. Plus, Markee Williams, who started with Garrett in the backcourt as freshmen at Morgan Park, has transferred back from Crane.
➠ Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn at Simeon
There will be plenty of people who will make the argument this is the best backcourt in the state. It's certainly not out of the question. Tate has settled into the Simeon way after transferring in from De La Salle and playing a key role last year during a state title run as a junior. Nunn, meanwhile, remains one of the top 2-guards in the state. He's a high-major college talent with elite explosiveness, toughness and a whole lot of experience.
➠ Lexus Williams and L.J. McIntosh at Marist
Right now there may not be a more experienced and cohesive backcourt tandem than Williams and McIntosh. These two have chemistry. In addition to both being unselfish, they have played together forever and feed off one another extremely well. That's why coach Gene Nolan's Marist team will be favored to win the East Suburban Catholic this season. Williams has evolved, becoming a playmaker with scoring ability. McIntosh, without much fanfare, averaged 15.6 points and 3.6 rebounds a game last season. These two led Marist to a sectional title game appearance last March, where it fell to eventual state champ Simeon.
➠ Charles Matthews and Dominique Matthews at St. Rita
When you have one of the premier talents in the state -- in this case, super sophomore Charles Matthews -- you're going to have a difference-making backcourt. But then add the brother? This brother tandem is a young one but very talented, with the 6-4 Charles Matthews the top college prospect in the Class of 2015 in Illinois. He's a unique talent when you consider his size, length, ability and age. Dominique Matthews, a 6-2 junior, will already be a three-year starter this winter for coach Gary DeCesare. Without question, these two brothers form the best backcourt in the Chicago Catholic League.
➠ Paris Lee and Jevon Carter at Proviso East
After playing off the ball last year while Keith Carter ran the point, look for Lee to be a game-changer this season with the ball in his hands. The Illinois State recruit will surely wreak havoc on both ends of the floor with his quickness and constant pressure. But the upside and scoring talent Jevon Carter brings to coach Donnie Boyce's Pirates is what may surprise opponents this season. The 6-1 junior is an outstanding shooter and scorer. He's poised for a breakout season. You better believe Lee and Carter will flourish with teams concentrating heavily on senior star Sterling Brown.
➠ Mark Falotico and Ore Arongundade at St. Viator
After a solid freshman season two years ago, Arongundade burst on the scene during his sophomore year. He helped lead the Lions to a school record 25 wins and their first outright East Suburban Catholic Conference title a year ago. Falotico, meanwhile, is an up-and-coming sophomore who is wise and mature for a young, pure point guard. He will be an impact player in the ESCC sooner than later after an outstanding spring and summer on the AAU circuit.
➠ Dom Adduci and Kendall Stephens at St. Charles East
The 6-5 sweet-shooting Purdue-bound Stephens gets all the attention, but Adduci was rock solid a year ago as a sophomore and has put together an outstanding offseason. While Stephens averaged 17 points and 7.5 rebounds a game last season, the quick, fearless Adduci put up 14 points and over 3 assists a game. There won't be a better backcourt in the far western suburbs this winter.
➠ Matt Mooney and Duante Stephens at Notre Dame
Coach Tom Les does a great job in developing guards and playing to their strengths. These two bring experience and size to the backcourt. The often overlooked Mooney is a hot commodity among Division II and NAIA schools, but he also picked up an offer from Air Force last month. At 6-2 he can play both guard spots effectively, shoots it with range and has a nice feel for the game. Stephens is a strong, big-bodied 6-3 guard who averaged 11 points and 7 rebounds a game as a sophomore.
➠ Malachi Nix and Lorenzo Dillard at Niles North
While both the diminutive Nix and the power-packed Dillard try to prove their worth to college coaches, these two put together big junior years. Nix, despite his 5-6 size, played huge a year ago, averaging 19.5 points and 3.2 assists as a junior. With Nix and Dillard, who pumped in 45 points in a loss to New Trier last season, Niles North could be looking at its third straight 20-plus win season.
➠ Glynn Watson and Jordan Ash at St. Joseph
Is it premature to put this sophomore tandem on a list of top backcourts? Maybe. But of these guards are future Division I players. And sooner or later these two, who are among the top prospects in the Class of 2015 after a stellar summer playing with the Illinois Wolves, will be mentioned in the same breath with the elite backcourts in Illinois.
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