Elite college basketball programs all have unique identities carved by their head coaches’ visions of what championship basketball leans upon. Defense wins championships, but offense has a more delicate balance of what’s right and what’s wrong. Does the system have restrictive bounds? Or is freedom important to a certain extent?
The answer lies within a thin grey-area of allowing players to utilize their own strengths and talents within an organized playbook. Balancing those two schemes defines winners. Who’s job description fits that? The point guard.
Thus, it’s a fairly consistent trend that some of the best college basketball programs in the nation regularly produce NBA-level point guards. At Arizona, Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson placed the onus on the point guard position, and his recruitment of elite guards dubbed his program Point Guard U. That was a result of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when a short-list of Olson’s point guards who went league included Steve Kerr, Damon Stoudamire, Mike Bibby and Jason Terry. Leading into Olson’s retirement in the late 2000s, that trend remained true, but ultimately nothing could compete with the frequency and potency of what Arizona’s roster had shed into the NBA during the decade and a half beforehand.
Arizona fielded a number of four-year point guards through the 2000s, some of which made the NBA and some that didn’t. Going back to year 2000, I’ve analyzed which college team could argue for the title of Point Guard U, considering all point guards taken in the 2001 NBA Draft and afterward.
For the sake of clarity, the main players that will go into a school’s consideration will be those who were either drafted or those who worked their way onto any NBA roster and earned any number of minutes in the league. Combo guards who were interchangeable at either the college or NBA level will also be in the conversation.
Will the Wildcats of Arizona remain at the top of the list? Let’s find out.