Gary Parrish over at CBS Sportsline has released point guard and shooting guard rankings for the upcoming season. UNC incoming freshman Tywon Lawson is sixth on the PG list with fellow rookie Wayne Ellington seventh on the SG list:
6. Tywon Lawson (North Carolina): Every time you put a freshman on a list like this, people are bound to send e-mails featuring the phrase "but the kid hasn't even played a game yet." Please, save the e-mail. Lawson has played lots of games, thousands of games. That he hasn't yet done so at the college level is inconsequential, and you'll see that once he's running Roy Williams' Tar Heels up and down the court in 30-point victories.(source)
7. Wayne Ellington (North Carolina): I'm not sure Ellington is the next Michael Jordan, but he can certainly be the next Rashad McCants. The 6-4 talent just might challenge Tyler Hansbrough for the team's scoring title, and do so within the flow of the Tar Heels' offense. With so much depth, North Carolina should play even faster -- and score more -- than normal. Among others, Ellington will benefit, and he could be the ACC's Freshman of the Year. (source)
First of all I am wary of preseason rankings and predictions from anyone. This is the first thing I have read from this guy who if I am not mistaken replaced the oft reviled Gregg Doyel who was inexplicably promoted to "national writer" status. So excuse me if I do not fall down and accept this as gospel.
Secondly, while I believe Lawson is the complete package at point guard, lightning quick, and perhaps the second coming of Raymond Felton he is also inexperienced on the college level and when it comes to running Roy Williams' offense. In addition, Quintein Thomas acquitted himself very well in the second half of last season. So what I imagine will be the case is that Lawson will come along slowly unless he comes into practice and gets a complete grasp of the offense from day one. I would think Williams would use Bobby Frasor and Thomas at point along with Lawson in the first few games of the season while planning, at some point, to make Lawson the starter and moving Frasor back to SG with Thomas as the backup.
Of course that scenario will impact how much time Ellington will see on the floor. I think playing time is going to be spread so thin for a lot of these guys that scoring bunches of points may be a premium for anyone besides Reyshawn Terry or Tyler Hansbrough. To say that Ellington might challenge Hansbrough for the scoring title without having seen one minute of UNC basketball on the floor is...well...stupid. And Freshman of the Year will be nice but do you have any idea how many quality freshman are coming into the ACC this season?
So why I am so down on a guy talking so highly of UNC basketball players? Because this stuff is message board fodder. It is wild speculation based on known facts mixed with a sprinkling of grandiose expectation. It is traffic bait pure and simple intended to draw the message board crowds in by giving glowing reports on players without an ounce of current real data to give foundation to the claim. No one disagrees that Lawson and Ellington were very good in high school and have enormous potential to be great in college. For right now that is all we know. And he could be absolutely right about Ellington and Lawson. Obviously I would be ecstatic if they turn out to be as good as he says. My point is let's wait until these guys actually lace up their sneakers before we produce lists like these.