If there is a lost art in basketball, according to Illinois coach Bruce Weber, it is the point guard. He knows. He coached Deron Williams and Dee Brown.
"When you don't have one, you know it," Weber said.
"It is a difference-maker for a coach to have a great point guard on the court. He makes the right play, the right decision at the end of the clock. He will pass first. He doesn't mind passing first. He has an understanding of the game, a feel for the game."
Let's hope he is talking about Chris Colvin, Whitney Young's 6-3 point guard. After his breakout performance at the Reebok camp, Colvin's stock soared. Illinois, which had expressed some interest early but backed off, leaped back into the chase.
But now Paul Klee, who covers Illini basketball for the Champaign News-Gazette, reports that Illinois has backed off again, claiming they have an abundance of guards.
I hope Klee is wrong. Yes, Illinois has a lot of guards but none of them, repeat, none of them is a pure point guard, not the kind that Weber is looking for. He has guards on his roster and he has commitments from high school players. But none of them has Colvin's credentials.
If Illinois is no longer interested in Colvin, it's news to him and his father, who is masterminding his son's recruiting.
"As far as I know, Illinois still is interested," Colvin told me today. "My father has talked to them. There is no reason to believe they aren't interested."
As he prepares for his first day of classes on Sept. 2, Colvin still lists the same five finalists as he did a week ago--Illinois, USC, Kentucky, Baylor and Florida State.
He plans to make official visits in September, then make a decision. He has made only two unofficial visits, to Florida State and Illinois. He said he might have to push the date of his decision back a little because he wants to make all five visits, then be sure to make the right choice. "I don't want to blow anyone off," he said.
"I want to see how I fit into someone's program, how they look at me over a four-year period," Colvin said. "I am a point guard. I can play in a run-and-gun or slowdown style but I prefer to get up-and-down. At this point, I'm excited about seeing new environments."
It would be a shame if Illini Nation has to go through a few more seasons like the last one because nobody in the backcourt knows how to run the offense.
Weber said it makes a difference when Deron Williams or Jason Kidd or Steve Nash or Chris Paul is on the court. Other kids think about scoring or dunking or shooting three-pointers. A point guard thinks about running the show. He loves to win and hates to lose. He has a competitive nature.
"It is good that people talk about point guards," Weber told me in an interview last week. "For my first 20 years in coaching, I never thought about a passing drill. Now we do passing drills incorporated with shooting drills. In the past, footwork and jumps shots and pivoting and making the right pass haven't been emphasized."
Weber recalls how Deron Williams, who didn't come to Illinois with as much hype as other players and wasn't even rated as the best player on his own high school team in Texas, was so determined to improve his skills.
"Deron always listened," Weber said. "In February, he remembered what I said in November. He was always thinking the game and how to help the team."
Weber can't talk about point guards or any specific aspects of his recruiting at the moment, of course, but it is known that he and his staff are looking for a point guard of the future. He has commitments from several talented guards but there are no pure point guards on the horizon, no Deron Williams or Dee Brown.
And no Chris Colvin.