Here is what Rivals.com Elite Team point guards Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo and Nick Calathes all have in common. They have height for their position, great feet and an exceptional feel for the game.
Despite these similarities, there are some distinct differences in how these three prospects get their jobs done. One gets it done with speed and vertical athleticism. Another gets it done with extraordinary body balance and strength. The other utilizes his craftiness and precision.
Let's look at our third team point guard first. Calathes is the type of guy that opponents sneer at during warm-ups. Many probably wonder how can this skinny white kid be a five-star prospect.
Soon after tipoff - when Calathes has drained a 3-pointer from 25-feet, perfectly executed a backdoor cut against an overly exuberant defender, made a 12-foot runner after shot-faking his defender and then hit a teammate with a full-court pass for an easy lay-up - opponents realize his ranking is legitimate.
"It is a very rare occasion when Calathes is not the smartest, most skilled and most competitive player on the court," said Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Jerry Meyer. "He's not much of a leaper. In fact, I don't believe he has ever dunked in a game. But he has great feet and deceptive speed. He knows how to use a screen and has great change of direction and change of pace skills with the ball. Add his ability to shoot the ball from deep, and you have a player that is quite difficult to guard."
O.J. Mayo, the second-team point guard, has been a marked man throughout his career. Perhaps the most recognizable name ever on the high school level, Mayo always draws a defender striving to make a name for himself. And whoever Mayo guards can significantly raise his status if he puts up big numbers. Despite the relentless competition, Mayo has repeatedly come out on top in individual battles.
Along with his exceptionally high skill level, Mayo has used his mental and physical strength to repeatedly best opponents. Often looking like a man playing against boys, Mayo uses his physical strength to control a basketball game from the point guard position. Then when it hits crunch time and the game is on the line, Mayo has the ability to will his way into making plays.
"Mayo reminds me of Chauncy Billups with the way he can muscle into position on the court," Meyer commented. "He is a beast with the ball and can score and pass with precision in traffic. He is also such a great competitor that you always feel that Mayo is in control of whatever situation he finds himself in."
However, as good as Mayo is, first team point guard Derrick Rose is even better. Rose has been nipping at Mayo's heels in the rankings for a couple years. Although much of the beauty of Rose is his upside, this summer his game hit a level that put him on top of Mayo as a prospect.
So, what does Rose have that Mayo does not have? First and foremost, Rose has a level of athleticism that is substantially higher than Mayo or any other point guard on the circuit. Secondly, both Rose and Mayo have the ability to either score or set up their teammates with their passing, but Rose is more of the ideal point guard. He is a setup man who scores when needed, while Mayo comes out looking for his points first.
"Rose has a gear speed-wise and vertically that you just don't often see," commented Meyer. "He can do some breathtaking things with the ball in his hands, and he has better defensive quickness than Mayo. But along with his athleticism, Rose does an unbelievable job making the players around him better. His feel for creating scoring opportunities for his teammates is better than all his contemporaries."
The crafty Calathes, the overpowering Mayo and the speedy Rose have a variety of ways to get results on the court. The primary result the three produce are wins for their teams, and the "W" is always the most important stat for any point guard.