I have always been a firm believer in the theory you are only going to be as good as your guard play. On rare occasions a coach is lucky enough to have the opportunity to walk into battle with two great playmakers. Here are some guard combos I consider to be among the best of all time in this area. It’s a partial list but impressive none the less.
Jim and Jerry Carder, Delphos St. John's, 1962-64
I feel sorry for the last couple generations of basketball players because they never had the opportunity to watch these two dynamos in action. The fact they were identical twins only made their game more intriguing.
I got to see the Carder twins up close and personal in the first varsity game I ever competed in as a sophomore in 1963. When the game was over, I could have sworn the Carder’s were at least triplets because everywhere I looked that day I saw a Carder running at break-neck speed. It was as if I was playing the game in one of those old carnival hall of mirrors. Coach Bob Arnzen’s uptempo pressing and fast breaking attack was tailor made for the Carder twins.
They led the Blue Jays to 53-16 record over their three varsity seasons and both were selected to play in the prestigious North-South All-Star game where Jim set the scoring record of 36 points, smashing the previous mark held by Middletown’s incomparable Jerry Lucas.
The Carders continued their winning ways while playing at Findlay College. They ended their playing careers as the two top scorers in Oilers' history and motored the 1967-68 squad to an astounding average of 98.8 points a game. Their incredible athletic careers were highlighted by induction into the Delphos St. John's, Findlay University and NAIA Hall of Fames. Throughout their high school and college careers these two brothers provided fans with some of the most exciting basketball ever witnessed in this part of Ohio.
Greg Simpson and Demond “Boogie” Liles, Lima Senior High, 1990-93
For pure athletic talent and excitement, I would be hard pressed to name a duo of competitors who surpassed this phenomenal backcourt. Lima Senior has produced a bevy of incredible guards but for my money, these two playmakers rise to the top of that impressive list. Simpson was the most heralded player to ever run the hardwood in this area. He ended his Spartan career as the leading scorer in school history and provided a highlight reel of spectacular plays virtually every time he stepped on the court.
With Liles as his running mate, Lima Senior’s gym rocked in that era. They led the Spartans to the Division I state championship game in 1993. Simpson, a two-time Ohio Mr. Basketball, was also named a McDonald’s All-American and signed to play at The Ohio State University. Virtually every major college in the country maneuvered to get Simpson’s signature on a scholarship letter of intent. Liles was one of the best pure shooters I witnessed play the game. After 20 years “Boogie” still holds the state tournament record with nine threes in the championship title game. His silky smooth jumper was sweet money in the bank. Liles’ enormous talent eventually landed him a scholarship at Memphis State University. I credit his marvelous basketball skills to his father, David, who raised a gifted family of scorers and was instrumental in the development of an entire generation of young basketball players in this community.
Anthony and Aaron Hutchins, Lima Central Catholic, 1992-94
These two brothers were the main cogs in leading the T-birds to three state tournament appearances. Anthony, the oldest, actually scored his first two and last two varsity points in Columbus during state tournament play. Anthony and Aaron were inseparable on and off the court.
They grew up playing on outdoor courts all over Lima and by the time they hit the hardwood together in high school they could find each other with their eyes closed. They were also students of the game and their basketball IQ’s were off the chart. I can’t tell you how many times I watched them take over tight games with precious seconds on the clock. Coaches often communicate with their teams through their point guards.
I rarely had to verbalize my thoughts to these two extraordinary players because they were already two steps ahead of me. Anthony signed to play at Walsh College but had his promising career cut short by an unfortunate auto accident. His college coach told me at the time he believed Anthony would have been an All-American if his career had not been cut short. Aaron ended his legendary high school career as Ohio’s Mr. Basketball and his career at Marquette University was just as spectacular. He led Marquette University to two NCAA appearances and his name is still plastered all over Marquette’s career statistical leaderboard. For a basketball coach, walking into battle with these two savvy guards was a dream come true.
Nathan Hyde and Aaron Craft, Liberty-Benton High School, 2007-10
When these two competitors stepped on the floor together, opponents knew they were in for a night of shear torture. I can only imagine the challenge opposing guards faced knowing they had to get past these two proud warriors. Forget scoring, just advancing the ball past halfcourt was going to be a real accomplishment. But they could fill it up too.
Hyde finished his career as the leading scorer in school history and Craft ranks as No. 3 all-time and No. 1 in assists. Together they led Liberty-Benton to the 2007 state championship game. Their coach, Steve Williman, remembers them most for their leadership qualities. Williman recalls, “They made it easy for me to coach. They supplied the leadership and the passion and the other players fell in line behind them.”
When talent of that stature was combined with the coaching acumen that Williman brought to the table, the Eagles were virtually unbeatable. Hyde went on to enjoy an outstanding career at the University of Findlay, where he helped lead the Oilers to the NCAA Division II national championship. Kraft, who was also the valedictorian of his graduating class, signed with The Ohio State University where he has established himself as one of the top point guards in the country. Craft was recently featured in a lengthy Sports Illustrated piece. Now in his third year, Craft continues to draw praise from opposing coaches for his on ball defensive pressure and court leadership.
(Bob Seggerson can be reached by email to firstname.lastname@example.org)