Tyrone Bogues, the 5-foot-3 point guard from Dunbar High School in Baltimore, took the outlet pass from Reggie Williams, spun around a defender and in three short strides was across midcourt. Williams and teammate Tim Dawson were running as hard as they could to get in position for the pass that was certain to come.
"You know he will give it up so you run hard to get in the lanes," Williams said. "Tyrone is our fast break. He always knows where everyone is."
"That's my job," said Bogues, who led the Poets to a 73-53 victory over Carroll in the final of the recent Beltway Classic. "I'm the leader on the floor and I'm supposed to know where everyone is at all times."
Bogues' running and passing got him voted most valuable player of the tournament. He had 17 assists, seven steals and 19 points in two games.
"Bogues is the perfect point guard," Coach Bob Wade of Dunbar said. "He does everything a point guard is supposed to do."
Morgan Wootten at De Matha, Red Jenkins at W.T. Woodson, Joe Gallagher at St. John's and Don McCool at Mount Vernon are among the successful area coaches who believe basketball begins with a point guard.
Before the Dunbar-De Matha game in the tournament, Wootten told floor leader Robert Roache not to put the ball on the floor until he found Bogues.
"He told me he looked all over and couldn't find him," said Wootten, who has coached some of the best point guards in the area the last 25 years. "Then Robert looked down at his knees and Bogues was right there.
"He's special, gives Dunbar an added dimension."
That's the definition of an effective point guard.
"You have to have a player on the floor to run your team," said Jenkins, who turns that job over to all-Met Tommy Amaker. "A point guard has to be intelligent, coachable, a leader and play under control. Tommy is perfect, the best I've seen in 20 years. He's been productive--we've been district champions all three years--he's quick and he can score. What else do you need?"
Most coaches agree that the best point guards are intelligent, are leaders, are exceptional ball handlers and passers, and, most importantly, play under control at all times. Being a good shooter is an added bonus but not a necessity. Being tall is a luxury.
Bogues, Amaker, St. John's Ray Daly, Potomac's Frank Ross, Paint Branch's Michael Jones, Mount Vernon's Frank Smith, Carroll's Mike Sampson, Maret's Terry Coffey and Flint Hill's Kevin Sutton possess all those qualities and are considered the elite floor leaders in the area.
Coaches differ on the type of point guard they prefer. Some prefer the passing/defensive guard, others prefer the passing/scoring guard.
"I want a point guard who can shoot," Coach Taft Hickman of Potomac said. "I think that's a big plus. If he can go to the basket, he keeps defenses honest. Ross can hit from 18 feet, but he knows his first job is to run the offense."
Hickman has the luxury of starting two guards who are comfortable at the point. James Milling (an all-Met football player), the point guard last year, is primarily the defensive guard because of his exceptional quickness and range.
"If a team tries to press us, we have two players to bring the ball up," Hickman said. "When you think about all the things a back court has to do, I don't think there are many better than Ross and Milling."
Amaker is rated the best overall at his position in this area. He is a 6-foot senior who runs the break well, is a fine passer and ball-handler and has a good 16-18 foot jump shot. What impresses observers is his poise.
"I know I'm supposed to be the coach on the floor so I can't afford to play out of control," said Amaker, averaging 20 points and nine assists for the 5-0 Cavaliers. "I handle the ball all the time and my teammates depend on me to run the show. Point guards can't have too many turnovers so I try to keep them down."
Amaker, headed for Duke, and Bogues, who'll play at Wake Forest next year, have been point guards as long as they remember. "I was the smallest person on the court and everyone would always say, 'You bring the ball up," Amaker said. "Now, I love the position."
Smith, the quarterback on the Majors' Virginia AAA Northern Region championship team, shoots less than any of the other point guards. But the junior's defense, ball handling and well-directed passes more than make up for any lack of scoring.
Jones, a senior playing the point for the first time, learned from his father Jimmy Jones, a 12-year veteran of the ABA-NBA, the last two seasons with the Bullets. The elder Jones was one of the leading percentage-shooting guards in pro basketball history with more than 11,000 points.
"Most of the things my father told me revolved around being the leader on the floor," said Jones, who recently scored 29 points in a 76-61 victory over Kennedy. "I'm just learning the position but I can do the job. I like running the team, being in charge."