For decades, New York City has produced tough, smart point guards that have gone on to success in college basketball. Many claim that the once-great crop of NYC high-school players has shrunk, but we examine a large group of the best floor generals who were reared on the city's asphalt.
Most recently, we have seen Connecticut's Kemba Walker, a Bronx native, lift his school to a national title in 2011. With all eyes on the Big Apple this week for the Big East Tournament, we have ranked the 10 best college basketball point guards from New York City ever. Where did Walker rank on the list? And who joined him?
Archibald's high-school years in the South Bronx held him back from being a blue-chip recruit heading into college. He only played 1 1/2 years of prep ball and had problems with academics. However, he went to Arizona Western College before transferring to UTEP, which gave the talented playground legend a shot. He averaged 20.0 points in three seasons playing for Don Haskins. That jump-started a career in which became one of the top point guards in NBA history and a champion with the Boston Celtics. But it was his time at Texas-El Paso that introduced Archilbald -- and his his ability to get into the paint at will -- to the national stage.
Marbury is the head of a basketball family from the Coney Island section of Brooklyn. His cousin Jamel Thomas played at Providence and another cousin, Sebastian Telfair, was a celebrated high school point guard who currently plays for the Phoenix Suns. But Marbury was hailed as the next great NYC floor general from a young age, when he earned the nickname "Starbury" on the NYC blacktop. That earned him a spot at Georgia Tech, where he played just one season before being taken with the fourth overall selection in the 1996 NBA draft. During his one season in Atlanta, Marbury led the Yellow Jackets to the Sweet 16 alongside Matt Harpring by averaging 18.6 points and 4.5 assists -- and plenty of YouTubeable moments. Forget all the crazy antics afterward, Marbury was a one-year star in the ACC.
Another flashy guard from Brooklyn, Washington played with a particular flair that has made him a favorite for Syracuse fans to this day. He was a stereotypical New York guard who played with no fear and had the ball on a string, so to speak. Washington became famous for his "shake-and-bake" move that helped him win Big East Rookie of the Year in 1983-84 and earn a spot on All-Big East teams in all three seasons that he was in college while averaging 15.7 PPG during his career. Perhaps most importantly, Washington helped lift a Syracuse program -- in terms of legitimizing it to recruits -- which made the Final Four in 1987, when Washington would have been a senior season if he hadn't left early for the NBA. Still, the man nicknamed for Earl "The Pearl" Monroe was a nightmare for opposing defenders and a dream come true for the Orange.
Younger fans know Smith for his role on TNT's "Inside the NBA" as the guy trading barbs with Charles Barkley. But Smith played at noted basketball power Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens before heading to North Carolina, where as a freshman he played alongside Michael Jordan. Smith averaged 9.1 points and 5.0 assists as a role player for the Tar Heels that season. For his career, he was a steady four-year player who averaged 12.9 points and 6.0 assists; Smith was an All-American as a senior in 1986-87, when he posted 16.9 points and 6.1 assists per game. That season, UNC lost in the East Regional final to Syracuse, which prevented Smith from a Final Four appearance while he was in college. Smith often refers to his New York background during his TV work -- joking that his name isn't "Kenny" but instead "Ken - NY." In truth, Smith used his confident New York swagger en route to a meaningful role on perennially talented UNC squads.
Jackson, the current coach of the Golden State Warriors, was a true pass-first point guard. He played with Chris Mullin and Walter Berry on the 1985 Final Four team as a sophomore at St. John's. That season, Jackson averaged just 5.1 points and 3.1 assists but has said that the tutelage of Mullin and Berry helped him for the rest of his career. He led the Red Storm to 31 wins in 1985-86, when he averaged a college career-high 9.1 assists. Jackson ended his college career by averaging 18.9 points and 6.4 assists as a senior. A player who was at ease in transition, Jackson honed his game in Brooklyn and turned into one of the finest guards in NYC history. He was a poster child for the heyday of St. John's basketball, which cut its teeth in great rivalry games with Georgetown and Syracuse. Sure, he went on to a pro career in which he is the third all-time assist leader in NBA history. But he played under the bright lights of Manhattan well before he was a guard for the New York Knicks.
Click here for LostLettermen.com's final countdown to the best college point guards from New York City.
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