To most people, April 15 means income taxes. To college basketball coaches and scouts it means something equally important: It is the national signing date for high school seniors.
And with that day less than six weeks away two things have become apparent to most recruiters. There is no Marvin Johnson, Eugene Banks or Albert King in this year's senior class. But there may be a Phil Ford, or someone close.
"This is the year of the guard; last year was the year of the forward," said Howard Garfinkel, rated one of the nation's top touts of basketball talent. "There's seven or eight guards who are super, better than Darnell Valentine, maybe." Valentine at Kansas, is considered the best freshman guard in the country.
Only Washington-area player is rated as a top-25 prospect, although there are a number of players considered good.
Joe Holston, Dunbar's outstanding 6-foot-3 guard, is the man most college coaches look at when they pass through this area.
Nationally among the guards, Dwight Anderson, a 6-3 shooter from Dayton, Ohio, and Vince Taylor, 6-5, of Lexington, Ky., are rated 1-2. Anderson is leaning toward Kentucky. Taylor also is leaning that way, but insiders say is Anderson goes to Kentucky, Taylor probably will go to Duke.
"Taylor may be the best player, pound for pound, inch for inch, shot for shot in the country," Garfinkel said. "He has more moves than a cat on a hot tin roof. And he plays defense."
Just a notch below the first two are Reggie Jackson, 6-4, from Philadelphia; Darryl Mitchell, 6-4, from West Palm Beach, Fla; Greg Goorjian, 6-4, from La Crescenta, Calif., and Rick Harmon, 6-4, from Cape May Court House, N.J. "Harmon may be the most underrated high school player in the country," Garfinkel said.
Up front there are no super stars, but there are a number of players who could be important factors as freshmen. The best is thought to be Cornelius Thompson from Middle town, Conn. Thompson surprised most people by announcing last month he would stay home at the University of Connecticut. Most had him tabbed for North Carolina or Virginia.
Right behind Trompson come 6-9 Scooter McCray from Mt. Vernon, N.Y., who appears to be Marquette bound; Clarence Tillman, 6-7; Banks, former West Philadelphia High School teammate, who is leaning toward Kentucky; Guy Morgan, 6-9, from Virginia Beach, who is committed to Wake Forest, and Chris Brust, 6-5, from Babylon, N.Y., who says he is going to North Carolina.
The best of the swingmen include Kevin Durrant, 6-6, from Provo, Utah, expected to stay home, either at Brigham Young, where his father is a minister, or at Utah; Tyren naulls, 6-4, from California, and Alvis rogers, 6-7, from Washington, N.C. "Rogers has probably jumped through the ceiling of every gymn in North Carolina," Grafinkel said, laughing.
There are many other players either equal to or a notch below these and undoubtedly several who no one has heard of who may become the next Rod Griffin - unrecruited, but outstanding in college.
Other names crop up: Jerry Eaves, 6-3 guard from Louisville; Don Larsen, 6-8, from California; Mark Aguirre, 6-8, from Chicago; Bill Ross, 6-10, from Lake Placid, Fla.
"The thing about all the speculation on who's going where and who's better than whom is thatit's just that - speculation," said Duke's coach Bill Foster, who has signed the players who went on to win ACC rookie-of-the-year honors two years in a row, with Banks looking like a third. "There are only a few players who are sure bet to make it and this time of year no matter what a kid tells you (about where he's going to college) he can changed his mind awful fast! You never feel safe."
A prime example of that came last year when Jeff Lmp, who had all but packed his bags to go to Indiana, changed his mind and went to Virginia when his high school coach, Richard Schmidt, was hired there as an assistant.
"The kid's coach is very important in most cases," an ACC assistant said. "Most times he has a lot of influence with him. We recruit the coaches, too."
In the meantime, many coaches are saying the best high school guard in the country may be a junior, Raymond McCoy, 6-3, from Chicago. One coach called him "the next Phil Ford."
But the McCoy hysteria will not start until fall. Right now the coached are concerned with getting commitments from the 1978 crop between now and April 15.
"After that we might take some time off," Duke assistant Bob Weinzel said. "Maybe about a week."
Basketball recruiting is a 12-month sport.