Years before Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings scored the most points (55) by a rookie since 1968 this past Saturday, he brought the crowd to its feet with a jaw-dropping display at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 at Harlem's famed Rucker Park.
In the event's first two years, Jennings took over Rucker, electrifying the hard-to-impress crowd with how'd-he-do-that? crossovers and eyes-in-the-back-of-his-head, no-look passes.
Of course, showmanship is only part of what makes a great playmaker. Being a great point guard is about so much more than finding the open man. With the rare exception (see: John Stockton), elite floor generals must have some style to go along with the basics.
Basketball purists love a simple bounce pass, but to get the crowd on your side you need a little razzle-dazzle. The legendary playmakers -- from old-school trendsetters Bob Cousy and Pete Maravich to Magic Johnson to today's stars like Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Chris Paul -- combine a mastery of the fundamentals with some flair.
In The League, entertainment takes a backseat to winning games. That's why the best place to catch YouTube-worthy highlights is at a playground like Harlem's Rucker Park, the mecca of streetball.
Even before becoming the No. 10 pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, everybody knew Jennings had the style part down pat. He proved it at the Elite 24. The question was whether or not he could channel his fundamentals to become more than a playground legend.
Well, Jennings has quashed any doubt just seven games into his rookie campaign. Averaging 25.6 points and 5.1 assists per game, he's led the Bucks to a surprising 5-2 start.
Simply put, he's been as perfect a point guard as possible for a rookie. Who from the Class of 2010 could be the next Jennings? Let's start from the top.
Episcopal School (Dallas, Texas)
Keep your hands up when playing with Pressey. If you're open, the 5-foot-11, Missouri-bound playmaker will get you the ball. And even if you're not, he'll find a way to thread the needle for an easy bucket.
Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.)
If a point guard's main job is to run a team, the UNC-bound Marshall is your man. He knows where everyone should be at all times and makes all of his teammates better.
White Station (Memphis, Tenn.)
When no one is open, a point guard needs to make a play himself. Jackson, a Memphis recruit, has the handle to break down defenders and get into the lane whenever he wants.
Pine Crest (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
As the No. 1 point guard in the ESPNU 100, Knight always has a bull's-eye on his back. No matter. He consistently rises to the occasion when faced with challenges, as evidenced by his two consecutive state titles.
Lake Clifton (Baltimore, Md.)
Selby is only 6-foot-3, but the kid plays much bigger thanks to his serious hops. Just ask fellow stud point guard Kendall Marshall, who was posterized by a Selby throwdown at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 this summer.