Shooting guards must score and defend

There are many names for this position: Shooting guard, two guard or even off guard. But they all require one thing -- a player who can score, and ideally someone who can score in as many ways as possible. College coaches covet a two guard who can shoot the ball with range (from 3-point distance), drive the ball to the rim and also show a mid-range game.

A shooting guard needs to have size, length and athleticism. If he has good strength and power, that is an added bonus. Ideally, a shooting guard is a good ballhandler and passer who can relieve pressure from the point guard.

There are two offensive factors that separate the good shooting guard from the great one. The first is whether he can shoot on the move. If a shooting guard can knock down the open standstill jumper and also shoot off movement and screens, he becomes very dangerous. The second factor is whether a guard can create his own shot. If he has deep range and can create his own shot off the dribble, he becomes a very difficult matchup.

A shooting guard must be able to defend. There are so many talented guards in every league in the country that it is imperative for a two guard to be able to defend his position. He must have good lateral quickness to stop the drive, be able to run and fight through screens and be tough-minded enough to work for 40 minutes to guard the position.

Good guard play is essential in college, and top-flight guards can dominate during the NCAA tournament. Guards who can shoot, handle and pass can control a college game.

The shooting guard position in the NBA has many high-profile players. Michael Jordan played primarily as a two guard. He is an example of a player who could do it all: Shoot, drive, create and defend. Reggie Miller, Ray Allen and Michael Redd are examples of the "catch and shoot" shooting guards. Richard Hamilton is a "catch and shoot" guy who also can take you off the dribble and has an excellent mid-range game, while Kobe Bryant is more like Jordan, since he can shoot, drive, create and defend.

Shooting Guard Grading System

Recruiting Nation will evaluate shooting guards on the following criteria:

1. Scoring: Does the player have scoring versatility? Can he score from the perimeter and also drive the ball to the rim? Can he penetrate and get to the foul line? Can he create his own shot when the offense breaks down or the shot clock is running down?

2. Shooting: How deep is the player's range? Can he shoot the 3-pointer? Can he shoot off the move (catch and shoot)? Can he take his man off the dribble and score with a mid-range game?

3. Size and strength: How tall is the prospect? What kind of length does he have? How strong and physical is he?

4. Defensive toughness: Does the player have the physical and mental toughness to defend some of the top scorers in the game? It is imperative to be able to defend at this position.

5. Ballhandling and passing: Can the prospect handle the ball and be a complementary ballhandler against pressure? Can he pass, finding the open man either on the break or on drives or double teams?

6. Athleticism: What type of athlete is the player? Can he only shoot the perimeter shot, or does he have the full complement of speed, lateral quickness, running ability and jumping ability needed to run the break, defend in the half court or full-court press?

7. Mental toughness: Does the player posses the mental toughness to take the big shot? If he misses five shots in a row, does it affect his game? Does he have the poise to step to the line late in the game and knock down free throws?