St. Francis Brooklyn’s Brent Jones was the best point guard in the NEC last year, but on the night of the NEC championship game, he took a bow to Kavon Stewart. The sophomore guard hounded him defensively while putting up 11 points and a cool six assists.
Consider that game a changing of the guard, because Kavon Stewart is entering 2015 as the best point guard in the NEC.
Defining what a “point guard” is can be challenging, and everyone has their own flavor. Some like the traditional pass-first, in-control guard while others like the aggression the “newer” generation of point guards bring. It’s probably a moot point, but I understand the differing opinions that will come with this article.
The NEC has been blessed with some incredible point guard play these past few seasons. From Brent Jones to Velton Jones to Jason Brickman, it’s been a consistent that comes will inconsistent mid-major play.
I’m not sure we’re going to see great point guard play, but the top tier is solid. The three best point guards look like they’ll be Stewart, Sacred Heart’s Cane Broome and St. Francis Pennsylvania’s Malik Harmon. Mount St. Mary’s Lamont Robinson could also be thrown into that mix. Robinson had the second best assist rate in conference play last season.
The nice thing about this group is the youth. Stewart and Harmon are entering their junior seasons while Broome and Robinson will be sophomores.
Right away, let me throw this out there. I tweeted this the other day to gauge the responses:
Broome and Harmon were the most common responses that didn’t come from the RMU faithful. I’m indifferent on Harmon. For someone who isn’t a great shooter (39.6 percent from the field, 32.8 percent from three) I don’t think he can dish it like some of the other guys can. He just blends in on the floor.
Robinson is the wild card. He averaged a very respectable (and surprising) 8.2 points in about 24 minutes per game last season. He probably isn’t getting enough respect in this conversation, but I’ll boil it down to two things:
1) I want to see him do it again and prove his freshman year wasn’t fluky and
2) I want to see if Mount St. Mary’s pace of play, which is traditionally very fast but wasn’t last season, will have any effect on him. He has me intrigued, though.
Broome brings the most amount of opinions for a variety of reasons. Are we sure he’s a good shooter, or a volume shooter in a high tempo offense? His overall efficiency numbers don’t break to top 500 in KenPom.
|Kavon Stewart directs traffic in a game against Wagner.|
Broome’s biggest challenge is going to be adjusting to a more on the ball role. Last year, the incredibly steady Phil Gaetano handled the point duties. With Gaetano gone to graduation, we need to see if Broome can step up and become that lead guy.
I have my reservations. Broome is a solid shooter (he shot 49 percent from the floor as a freshman guard) but had nearly as many assists as he did turnovers. Can he still put up solid shooting numbers and create for his teammates? I’m not sure. When it comes down to it, I just trust my eyes. I like Broome, I don’t love Broome. I’m probably in the minority.
The ultimate case for Kavon
My personal flavor for a PG is someone who can hunt and create his own shot but looks to create and set up others first. I want someone who will control the tempo. Last year, Stewart average 4.6 assists-per-game. His last eight games (including the postseason): 49 assists to 16 turnovers. Think something clicked for him?
The NEC semifinal game was the official coming out party. When the team didn’t seem to have it, he put up a monstrous 19 points, 8 assists, 7 steals performance. A few days later in the NEC championship game, he made Brent Jones invisible. He was in complete control of that game, getting to the line at will and locking up on defense.
The defense aspect is another hat to toss into the ring. When Stewart puts consistent effort into the defensive side of the basketball, he might be the best defender in the NEC. Let’s make this clear: I am not saying Stewart is going to win NEC defensive player of the year; he’s just too inconsistent on that end. There are days when he gambles too much or doesn’t bring enough energy. It can be a sloppy mess of discipline.
I’m merely saying he’s capable of being a top-end defender, and even on his worst days is still probably the best overall defender of this group. Stewart’s steal percentage was one of the best in the country last year.
Shooting is always going to be Stewart’s Achilles heel. He’s not great at it. To put it nicely, he’s a streaky three point shooter. When he drives, he’s all left hand. That has to change. The strides he made from his freshman to sophomore year were encouraging, though.
So much of Stewart’s game is confidence. When he’s confident in his abilities, he brings a tremendous amount of energy, a controlled recklessness and a relentless amount of attack. It’s poetry.
So that’s my case. Flawed? Yes. Stewart’s not the mold of a Velton Jones or Anthony Myers-Pate. The good comes with the bad. He has a lower floor but a higher ceiling.
Enjoy the ride.