The point guard has replaced the big guy in the low post as the dominant figure in the game of basketball over the past quarter-century.
Dr. James Naismith, who invented the game of basketball, always said that it was the defense, not the offense, that established the pace of the game. And, so, over the past quarter-century, elite defenses have vastly increased the pressure, which in turn requires everybody to play faster. Against an elite defense, if you don’t have an elite ball-handler, you have no chance. And, so, into the breach has stepped the modern point guard, aptly referred to as “the 1.” He handles the ball, he protects the ball, he distributes the ball to his teammates in spots where they can score. And because he’s probably the best athlete on the floor, of course he can score, too. But, score or not, his biggest value is his ability to protect the ball and get his team into its offense.
The real question about ranking the guards is what to do with some of the old-timers. Today you’ve got your “1” and your “2,” your ball-handler and your shooter. In the old days there were guards who did neither. They played defense. They guarded people. We’ve decided to list the old-time defensive specialist as a “1.”
The practical aspect is that, if an old-time team had a guard who could score, you can pick him out because of his point totals. It’s harder to tell a ball-handler from a defender from the box scores and other available information. So, where the old-timers are concerned, we’ve just lumped them together. The other point is that for many—especially the ball-control, defensively-oriented coaches—your very best athletes played defense, not offense. They were “the 1s.” So that’s where we put them, at “the 1.”
High School Resume’
Post-High School Highlights
1. Khalid El-Amin, Minneapolis North 1997
Led his team to the 2ndboys 3-peat ever and was the 4th boy to win all-tournament 3 times.
Led UConn to the 1999 national title, then scored 6 ppg with 3 assists in 50 NBA games.
2. Tyus Jones, Apple Valley 2014
Led his team to a state title.
Led Duke to NCAA title and earned MOP award as freshman.
3. Terry Kunze, Duluth Central 1961
Led his team to a state title.
Played at MN and scored 5 ppg in 46 ABA games.
4. Marty Rolek, Minneapolis Edison 1934
Earned all-America honors at MN in 1937 and 1938, and a Big 10 title in 1937. Also led the Dominiums to the senior men’s state AAU title while still in high school.
5. Jordan Taylor, Benilde-St. Margaret 2008
Won the Class AAA title and Mr. Basketball award in 2008 after scoring 22 ppg with 7 assists.
Played at Wisconsin where he scored 16 ppg in his final 2 seasons.
6. Lawrence McKenzie, Minneapolis Henry, 2003
McKenzie played on 4 Class AAA state champion teams, started on 2. Mr. Basketball finalist.
McKenzie scored 11 ppg in 4 years at MN and Oklahoma.
7. Siyani Chambers, Hopkins 2012
Led his team to 2 state titles (and played on a 3rd) plus a runner-up. Mr. Basketball finalist.
Played college ball at Harvard where he scored 12 ppg as a freshman and led the #14 seeded Crimson to an upset of #3 New Mexico in the NCAA tournament.
8. Jalen Suggs, Minnehaha 2021
Rated the #1 2020 point guard in the nation. Could rank higher than this in time. Led his team to state titles in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
9. Paul Lehman, DeLaSalle 1957
Led the Islanders to 3 straight state Catholic titles by an average margin of 26 points.
Started at MN until suffering a serious knee injury.
10. Willie Warhol, Minneapolis Edison 1937
Led his team to 3 state tournaments. The 1937 state champs were regarded as the greatest team ever to that time.
Played college ball at MN.
11 (tie). Russell “Butsie” Maetzold 1922 and Art Lillyblad 1933, both Red Wing
Led the Wingers to state titles in 1920, 1922 and 1933.
Maetzold was all-state 4 times at Hamline. Lillyblad played at MN, and started as a junior.
12. Ronnie Henderson, Minneapolis Marshall-U 1976
Led his team to the 1976 Class A title. Mr. Basketball finalist. Some say he was the best passer ever.
Helped Augsburg to MIAC titles in 1980 and 1981. He played pro ball in Australia and Mexico.
13. Pat Foschi, Virginia 1975
Once scored 51 points in a game, and had 1,183 career rebounds.
Signed with Kentucky but never played.
14. Kammron Taylor, Minneapolis North 2003
Taylor led his team to the Class AAA title. Mr. Basketball finalist.
Scored 10 ppg in 4 years at Wisconsin.
15. Adam Boone, Minnetonka 2000
Mr. Basketball 2000.
Scored 7 ppg in 4 years at North Carolina and MN.
16. Buzz Bennett, Duluth Central 1950
Led his team to the 1950 state title.
Played college ball at MN. He once “mooned” the crowd at Marquette when he forgot to put his game shorts on under his warmup pants.
17. Barry Wohler, Bird Island-Lake Lillian 1981
Led his team to the 1980 and 1981 Class A titles, hitting 3 buzzer-beater game-winning shots in 6 tournament wins.
Started at the U of MN, finished at St. Cloud State.
18. Jeff Nessler, St. James 1972
Won Class A title with a half-court buzzer-beater, then won overall title as well.
Led Augsburg to the 1975 and 1976 MIAC titles.
19. Zach Kiekow, Osseo 2001
Led Osseo to the state title.
Played 2 years at Ohio and 2 years at Mankato State.
20. Fred Enke, Rochester 1917
Led his team to the 1917 state title.
Earned all-Big 10 honors at MN.
21. Earl Moran, Moorhead 1930
Led his team to 3 state finals, and 2 titles in 1928 and 1929. The 1st boy to earn all-tournament honors 3 times.
Helped Concordia (Moorhead) to its only MIAC title prior to 1982. He was also a record-setting running back.
22. Nate Wolters, St. Cloud Tech 2009
Led his team to 2nd place in Class AAAA.
Earned all-America honors at South Dakota State.
23. Calvin Wishart, Delano 2018
Averaged 31 points, 10 boards, 8 assists and 4 steals while leading his team to the state AAAA title as a senior.
Will play college ball at Georgia Southern.
24. McKinley Wright, Champlin Park 2017
Scored 23 ppg with 8 boards and 8 assists as a senior, leading his team to the #1 seed and 2ndplace in Class AAAA state tournament.
Will play his college ball at Colorado.
25. Estan Tyler, St. Paul Johnson 2010
Led his team to the Class AAA title.
Played college ball at Missouri-Kansas City.
26. Orris Jirele, Austin Pacelli 1958
Led his team to the 1958 Catholic title.
Jirele started for St. Bonaventure, which was rated as high as #3 nationally.
27. Brad Davison, Maple Grove 2017
Scored 21 ppg with 6 boards and 7.5 assists as a senior. Also a 1st team all-state QB.
Will play college ball at Wisconsin.
28. Dave Meisner, Cloquet 1963
Led his team to 2nd place in the state tournament.
Winona State’s all-time leading scorer with 1,658 points, including 47 in 1 game.
29. Dana Grimsrud, Rushford 1989
Led his team to the Class A title.
Played college ball at Augustana where he is #5 all-time in assists and #3 in FT percentage.
30. Gene Glynn, Waseca 1975
Led his team to 2 state tournaments. Mr. Basketball 1975.
Holds most assists records at Mankato State. Played minor league baseball.
31. Jared Nuness, Hopkins 1997
Overshadowed by Khalid El-Amin but led his team to 4thplace with 30 points in his final game.
Scored 6 ppg in 4 years at Valpo.
32. Mally Nydahl, Minneapolis South 1924
His team was upset in the state final by Two Harbors.
Played college ball at MN.
33. Stephen King, Holy Angels 2002
Mr. Basketball 2002.
Played 4 years at Ohio U, scoring 4 ppg as a senior.
34. John Retica, Hibbing 1976
Led his team to the 1975 and 1976 state tournaments, leading all scorers in all 3 1975 games.
Began at the U of MN but eventually earned all-NSIC honors at UMD.
35. Jarvis Johnson, DeLaSalle 2015
Helped the Islanders to 4 straight Class AAA titles.
Slated to play for Minnesota Gophers, but ruled out due to heart problems.
36. Bryce Tesdahl, Crosby-Ironton 2008
Holds single-season assists record with 340 in 2008, and it #6 on the career list with 824.
Averaged 8 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists in 4 years at Bemidji State, and earned all-NSIC honors.
37. Kyle Noreen, Minnesota Transitions 2011
Scored 2,866 career points and won a Class A title in 2010. Mr. Basketball finalist.
Scored 4 ppg in 1st 2 years at Radford.
38. Bjorn Broman, Lakeview Christian
Started out setting up brother Anders who still holds career points record, while Bjorn is #2 in assists. But, then Bjorn became a scorer and is also #2 in state history in points with 4,130.
Playing college ball at Winthrop.
39. Drew Carlson, Belle Plaine 1999
Still #2 all-time in assists 1,066, #2 in steals with 467, and scored 2,350 career points.
Played college ball at Mankato State, where he is #8 on the all-time assists list.
40 (tie). Jordair Jett, St. Bernard’s and Tydan Storrestun, Pelican Rapids both 2009
Faced one another in the 2009 Class AA final. Jett scored 2,080 career points and recorded 1 of just 4 known quadruple-doubles in MN history. Storrestun led his team to the title, and scored 2,188 career points.
Jett scored 8 ppg in his 1st 3 years at St. Louis U. Storrestun played 31 games and scored 6 ppg at Northern State before a serious knee injury.
41. Cameron Rundles, DeLaSalle 2005
Led his team to the 2005 Class AAA title. Mr. Basketball finalist.
Scored 9 ppg in 4 years at Montana and Wofford. Played professionally in Europe.
42. Tyler Nicolai, Hopkins 2007
Led his team to 2 state titles.
Helped St Thomas to a D3 national championship.
43. Justin Stommes, Rocori
Led his team to 3rd place in Class AAA in 2007.
Scored 11 ppg at E. Kentucky. Played pro ball in Europe.
44 (tie). Derek Reuben, Minneapolis North 1988, and Robert Mestas, Minneapolis Roosevelt 1995
Mr. Basketball 1988 and 1995, respectively.
Played college ball at Eastern Kentucky and Miami (Ohio), respectively.
45. Bernie Raetz, Red Wing 1953
Led the highest scoring team in MN HS history to 5th place in the state tournament.
Played football at St. Thomas, member of Tommies Hall of Fame.
46. Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Tartan 2005
Scored 1,329 career points and was named all-state as a senior.
Scored 10 ppg in 4 eyars at Northern Iowa.
47. Pat Driscoll, Moorhead 1967
Still holds state record with 17 steals in 1 game, and led his team to the 1967 state final.
Played college ball at North Dakota State, where he is a member of the HoF.
48. Clarence Martin, Duluth Cathedral 1922
Led his team to 3rd place in the national high school tournament.
49. Cal Sabatini, Hibbing 1958
Led Hibbing to the state tournament his senior year.
Played college ball at MN.
50. Dan Ward, Mankato Loyola 1990
Led his team to 2nd place in Class A in 1990. Still #3 all-time with 1,018 assists.
Still the NCC’s career assist leader with 462 at Mankato State.
51. John Patzwald, Minneapolis Central 1950
Helped his team to the 1949 state tournament and 1950 city title.
Led Gustavus to 3 straight MIAC titles. Is a member of the Gusties Hall of Fame.
52 (tie). Quinton Hooker, Park Center 2013; and J.T. Gibson, Champlin Park 2015
Both were named Mr. Basketball.
Hooker is playing college ball at North Dakota, Gibson at Nebraska-Omaha.
53. (tie). Ryan Iverson, Eden Prairie and Ryan Keating, Minnetonka, both 1998
Iverson once scored 50 points in a game. Mr. Basketball finalist 1998. Keating once had 19 assists in a game and helped his team to the state title.
Iverson scored 10 ppg with 6 rebounds and 3 assists in 3 years at Delaware. Keating played 2 years at MN. Then played QB at St. John’s.
54. Joe Malkovich, Chisholm 1931
At 6-2, one of the tallest and best players of his time.
55. Dave Nelson, Minneapolis Roosevelt 1961
Led his team to an undefeated record and state tournament berth, when they were DQ from the tournament for using an ineligible player.
Played at MN.
56. Don Smith, Minneapolis Roosevelt 1944
Played at MN, then 8 games for the Minneapolis Lakers.
57. Greg Thone, Luverne 1964
Led his team to the state title, was top scorer in 2 of 3 games.
58. Eric Webb, Grand Rapids 2003
Made 89 percent of his FT, made 113 3s, and was a Mr. Basketball finalist in 2003.
Averaged 11 ppg and 4 assists in 4 years at Furman.
59. Mario Retica, Hibbing 1930
Starred at St. Thomas where he is a member of its Hall of Fame.
60. Erik Kelly, Staples-Motley 1997
One of a few boys to earn all-tournament honors 3 times. Made 45 percent of his career 3-point attempts, and still holds the state record of 10 straight 3s.
Played college ball at Amherst.
61. Slip Little, Madison 1911
Led his team to a mythical state title in 1911.
Starred at Hamline in the very earliest days of the MIAC.
62. Darren Clarke, Hopkins 2003
Helped his team to a state title in 2002 and 3rd place in 2003.
Scored 5 ppg in 3 years at UTEP.
63. Drew Lundberg, Owatonna 2007
Shot 52 percent on 3-pointers in his senior season.
Scored 4.5 ppg in 3 years at NDSU.
64. Martin Wind, Cass Lake-Bena 2010
Played in 4 state tournaments. Scored 2,622 career points with 864 assists. Holds state single game record with 28 assists.
Scored 8 ppg in 1 year at Bismarck State.
65. David Gilreath, Minneapolis Marshall-U 1980
Led his team to the state tournament. Mr. Basketball finalist.
Holds Mankato State’s career ppg record with 22+ and led the Mavericks in assists 2 years.
66. Alex Carlson, Litchfield 2000
Led his team to the state title, and was a Mr. Basketball finalist.
67. Byron Suttles, Minneapolis Washburn 1994
Led his team to state title. Led all scorers with 17 in the final.
68. Jim Chalin, St. James 1972
Helped his team to the Class A and overall state titles.
Scored 10 ppg in 4 years at Gustavus, where he is a member of the HoF.
69. Bob Leiviska, Virginia 1946
Led his team to the state tournament.
Helped Hamline to the 1949 NAIA national title.
70. Jake Driscoll, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 2007
Scored 51 points in a game, made 23-of-26 FG and 17-of-17 FT in others.
Scored 12 ppg in 4 years at Moorhead State.
71 (tie) Tom Conroy 1988 and Damon Dragotis 1985, both
Dragotis led his team to the Class A state title, leading all scorers in all 3 games. Mr. Basketball finalist. Conroy was Mr. Basketball 1989, after helping his team to the state title in 1988.
Dragotis played college ball at Florida and Maryland.
72. Darrell Kreun, Edgerton 1961
Helped his team to state title.
73. Jim Hart, Duluth Central 1967
Led his team to 3rd place in the state tournament, scoring 59 points in his final 2 games.
74. Jerry Porter, Hopkins 1953
Helped his team to 2 state titles.
75. Leroy Karstens, Glencoe 1931
Led his team to the state title.
76. Bill Schiffler, Woodbury 1983
Led his team to the state title.
77 (tie). Blaise Beauchamp, Hopkins and Terry Lockett, Minnehaha, both 2020
Beauchamp averaging 12-5-5-2 and Lockett 11-4-4 as sophomores. This ranking is a projection. They’re not there yet.
78 (tie). Don and Dayle Rasmussen, Austin 1952
Led their team to the 1951 and 1952 state tournaments.
Played college ball at Hamline.
79 (tie). Roger Schelper 1966, Mark Thoele 1968 and Graham Woodward 2013, all Edina
Schelper and Thoele helped their teams to state titles. Woodward scored 27 ppg and led his team to the state tournament as a senior. Mr. Basketball finalist.
Schelper played 1 year at MN, Woodard will be playing at Penn State.
80 (tie). Bob Mealey 1944 and Clayton Kermeen 1945, both Minneapolis Henry
Fed Jim McIntyre to help their teams to 2 straight state titles.
81. Mark Buri, Trinity 1998
Tied for #1 all-time with 202 steals in a season. #5 with 415 career steals. Mr. Basketball finalist.
Played college ball at St. Thomas were he was inducted into their Hall of Fame in his 1styear of eligibility.
82 (tie). John Chommie 1932 and Roy Lee 1938, both Thief River Falls
Led Thief to 2 undefeated state championships in the 1930s.
83 (tie). Ray Petroske 1928 and Joe Mernik 1937, both Minneapolis Edison
Petroske led his team to 2nd place in 1928 state tournament
84. Kendall Proell, Osakis 2006
Had a state tournament record 15 assists in 1 game. Also #8 all-time with 299 assists in 1 season.
Averaged 10 ppg and 4 assists in 2 years at MN-Morris.
85 (tie). Wilbur Winblad 1941 and Steve Malmar 1958, both Red Wing
Both led RedWing to runners-up honors and won all-state tournament honors.
Malmar was better at quarterback, played football at New Mexico.
86. Joe Hutton, Jr., St. Paul Wilson 1946
Helped Hamline to the 1949 NAIA national title, then played for the 1952 NBA champion Minneapolis Lakers.
87. Zach Goring, Apple Valley 1995
Had 19 assists in one game and 285 in a season.
88. Tim Casey, Chisholm 1973
Led his team to 1973 Class A title.
89. Pat Clarke, Lynd 1946
Led his team to runner-up in the 1946 state tournament. 1st player to throw a behind-the-back pass in the tournament.
90. Marcus Hill, Breck 2006
Led his team to 2nd place in Class AA.
Led Mankato State in assists in 2011 and is among the career leaders in 3-point shooting percentage.
91. Monte Dufault, Waseca 1988
Led his team to the 1988 state tournament.
Led Mankato State in scoring once and is among their career leaders in assists and steals. Also made 47 percent of 3s.
92. Glenn Gumlia, Crosby-Ironton 1938
Helped Hamline to the 1942 NAIA national championship.
93 (tie). Gene Zachow, Gaylord and Pat Kennedy 1979, Lake City
Zachow scored 1,483 career points. Kennedy fed Randy Breuer to win 2 state titles.
Led Mankato State in assists 5 times between them, and both are among the Mavericks career leaders in assists.
94 (tie). “Pud” Moore, Minneapolis Central 1924 and “Toots” Westman, Minneapolis South 1927
Both players helped their teams to the state title and both earned all-tournament honors. Moore was a freshman at the time.
95. Bobby Kelly, Bloomington 1963
Led his team to the 1963 state tournament.
96. Alex Rubin 2007, Robbinsdale Armstrong
Mr. Baskerball finalist. Rubin also led his team to runner-up in the state tournament.
Rubin scored 3 ppg in 4 years at Illinois State, starting 50 games.
97 (tie). Myrvin 1936 and Roland DeLapp 1938, both Luverne
Myrvin helped Luverne to the 1935 and 1936 state tournaments, Roland in 1938.
Both played at Macalester, and both are members of its Hall of Fame.
98. Jarius Cook, Park Center, and Ryan Larson, Cretin-Derham Hall, both 2018
Cook scored 18 ppg as a senior while Larson averaged 12-7-11 assists-4.
Cook will play college ball at North Dakota State.
99. Roger Adair, Brainerd 1956
Started as a sophomore on
Brainerd’s 1954 state champs.
Earned 11 letters in 3 sports at Concordia (Moorhead).
100. Don Reimer, Mountain Lake 1949
Helped his team to 3rdand 4th in 2 state tournaments.
Played at Augsburg where he is a Hall of Famer.