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May 13, 2009

Point guard now on top of the 2010 Rivals150

MORE: The 2010 Rivals150 | Chat with the experts about the updated ranking

It is the Golden Era of point guards, and Coral Springs (Fla.) Pine Crest point guard Brandon Knight is the next in line behind Derrick Rose and John Wall.

Knight, the newly crowned No. 1 prospect in the Rivals150, is well aware of his talented predecessors.

"I'm definitely very aware of Derrick Rose," Knight said. "I watched him a lot this year and he was my favorite rookie [in the NBA]. He is motivation for me to get more explosive like him and to finish with both hands at the rim like him. He is a model for me.

"John Wall is another athletic and quick guard. I had the chance to play against him a couple times and he was difficult to stay in front of. He's another inspiration to me to work on my quickness and improve my defense."

The ability of both Rose and Wall to involve their teammates is one of the strongest attributes of their game. Knight, who is a much more advanced scorer than Rose and Wall at the same stages in their careers, struggled earlier in the spring to find a balance between scoring and distributing the ball.

"That was one of the things I realized I needed to do a better job of," Knight said. "I shot a lot in Arkansas [The Real Deal in the Rock]. Then when we lost to Brandon Bass, I didn't feel that Luke [Cothron] was a factor like he can be. So I told Luke and my other teammates to play like they do in high school and be ready to get the ball."

Rivals.com was happy to see Knight regain that balance in his play at the Wallace Prather Memorial Classic. Coming out of last summer, the one question we had about Knight was whether he would have the physical strength to finish and defend at a No. 1 prospect-type level since he is not a freak athlete like Rose and Wall. This question was answered at the first national tournament of the spring when Knight showed up with a chiseled 6-foot-3, 187-pound physique. Then it was further established with his stellar defensive effort against five-star scorer Joe Jackson in Atlanta last weekend.

HIGH POINT
Here's a look at the highest-ranked point guards in the Rivals150 since 2003:
Year Player Rank
2010Brandon Knight1
2009John Wall1
2008Jrue Holiday2
2007Derrick Rose3
2006Javaris Crittenton7
2005Greg Paulus11
2004Shaun Livingston2
2003Mustafa Shakur12
"Lifting weights has been a focus since a little before the high school season," Knight said. "I've been getting in the weight room and also making sure I eat the right things. Then I've been getting extra work in the gym after practice to make sure it doesn't affect my shooting. If anything, it has improved my range. It has also helped me not get as fatigued at the end of games."

Although Knight has all the tools of an elite point guard, don't expect him to relax in his pursuit of being the most complete player he can be. Known for his work ethic, Knight is more concerned with developing his game than reveling in his No. 1 prospect status.

"My focus is on improving my skills on the court and make the right decisions," he said. "I'm working a lot on my ballhandling so I can get to spots on the court to score or share the ball with my teammates and boost their confidence.

"It is exciting to be No. 1. I take it as an honor and motivation to stay on top."

THE REST OF THE TOP FIVE

Harrison Barnes has established himself as the elite wing in the 2010 class. Like Knight, Barnes has a complete and mature game. The most impressive development of his game in the past year is his improved ballhandling.

Jared Sullinger has been the dominant big man on the circuit this spring. Another complete player for his position, Sullinger is cut out of the Kevin Love mold of big men.

Tristan Thompson continues to develop as the top power forward in the 2010 class. His jumper is improving and the lefty is becoming proficient with his right hand.

Josh Smith was the dominant big man in the 2010 class coming out of last summer. This spring, however, his conditioning has been poor and there has been a lack of passion in his play.

NEW FIVE-STARS

The 2010 Rivals150 includes seven new five-star prospects. Point guard Cory Joseph vaulted into the top 10 because of his sublime feel for the game, multidimensional skill set and surprising athleticism.

Jelan Kendrick is a point-forward type who also has an advanced feel for scoring the basketball. Think of an even better version of Ohio State's Evan Turner.

Duke commitment Andre Dawkins has a reliable stroke from deep and high-level athleticism.

Combo guard Kyrie Irving continues his move up the rankings with his overall strong play this spring.

Small forward Cameron Clark burst onto the national scene with his energetic and complete play at The Real Deal in the Rock.

Brazilian Fabricio de Melo was a hidden gym down in south Florida before he set the King James Classic on fire in April.

And don't let Ryan Harrow's size fool you. The North Carolina State commitment is a small point guard with elite skill and quickness.



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