When Bishop O'Connell's (Va.) Kendall Marshall last came to the Beach Ball Classic, rivals.com ranked him as the ninth-best player in the Class of 2010.
Two years later, the Web site rates the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder as just the ninth-best point guard and 32nd overall player in this year's senior class. But North Carolina fans - Marshall committed to the Tar Heels in 2007 and signed with them last month - shouldn't be concerned that he's regressed as a player.
Too often the rankings assess a player's athleticism and overall potential without taking into account the intangible factors that will likely play a bigger role in their impact at the next level. While he may not rate as high as some of his classmates, Marshall may ultimately have a better college career than any of them, said scout.com analyst Dave Telep.
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"There are better players in the country at his position," said Telep, whose site rates Marshall as the nation's fifth-best point guard. "There are not smarter players, better passers or better facilitators. Kendall Marshall is just a guy that absolutely can run a team. I'm sure he wishes he was quicker, but he's maxed out at what he is. He's still going to be a heck of a college player."
When Marshall led O'Connell to a fifth-place finish in the 2007 tournament, he averaged just 8.8 points and and 2.5 rebounds. Those numbers were modest, but Marshall didn't need to shoot. He dominated almost every game, dishing 7.3 assists an outing to set the table for his teammates.
Though he has to score more now than he once did - this team is a shell of the one coach Joe Wooten brought to Myrtle Beach in 2007 - Marshall is still an old school point guard who would prefer to create than score.
"Kendall is a true point guard," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said last month. "He's a Lenny Wilkens-type player - very clever with the ball. I love his unselfishness. Everyone who has played with him wants to be his teammate again. He's a thinking man's point guard who will fit in well with the way we play."
Marshall had 14 points, seven assists and four rebounds in Monday's 79-62 first-round loss to Bishop Gorman (Nev.).
Yet, he struggled against a small, athletic lineup, turning the ball over eight times as he tried to make plays and create his own shots on the offensive end. He showed the ability to beat defenders off the dribble and knock down the mid-range jumper, but he didn't always seem comfortable doing it.
"I'm a lead guard," Marshall said. "I like to lead the team and get everybody involved. It is a different role, but great players have to be able to adjust to the situation."
Once he gets to North Carolina, Marshall won't have to worry about scoring, but Telep believes he could one day surpass Ed Cota's school record of 1,030 assists.
"He's got to score a little more now and that's not natural for him," Telep said. "At North Carolina you'll see a guy with an elite arsenal around him and he'll absolutely be able to do it. It's like handing a general a battle plan and then giving him the strongest forces. He's going to crush you. That's what Kendall does. Ratings and rankings - I'd forget about them. He's an All-American and exactly what North Carolina needs."