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The Iceman cometh back

Smooth Childress reminiscent of some classics

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Posted: Monday July 10, 2000 01:38 PM

  Josh Childress has already drawn comparisons to George "Iceman" Gervin. Hulan Pickett

By Albert Lin,

INDIANAPOLIS -- You can have your flashy dunks and your long-range threes. Josh Childress has no need for either, thank you. He will, however, take everything in between.

Childress prides himself on his midrange game, an art TV announcers often lament as lost. Whenever someone asks about his style of play, it’s what he brings up.

“My brothers always emphasized hitting that midrange 'J.' It’s closer in, a better shot,” says the 6-foot-6, 181-pound swingman. “They’re 28 and 30, so they watched a lot of Dr. J and George Gervin, those guys. They took things from their games and tried to implement them with me when they worked me out.”

The Iceman is a good comparison. Childress has a similar body type and grace about his game. Effortless is the first word that comes to mind. He is never in a rush and always seems composed on the court. His jumper is high-arching and feathery soft, but his signature move is to take one dribble and then lean in for a floater that invariably finds the bottom of the net.

“I’m a scorer. I like to score,” he says. “I have a nice midrange game, and I do a lot of little things to earn points -– tip-ins, things like that.”

At the 1999 Nike All-America Camp, Childress was rated by many the best shooting guard in attendance. Last weekend he returned to the scene of that success, picking right up where he left off. He showed off the skills that have a quintet of the NCAA’s best -- UNC, Kansas, Arizona, Stanford, UCLA -- vying for his services.

“I kind of feel pressure, but not so much that I’m nervous,” he says. “Anybody is going to feel pressure with 200 coaches watching you play. I just have to go out and show what I can do.”

Childress attends Mayfair High, a mid-sized school not known for its athletics. The same community, Lakewood, Calif., has produced Ed and Charles O’Bannon and Jason Kapono, all from Artesia High.

“Our school is not considered a powerhouse, so I’m always keyed on,” Childress says. “I’m kind of used to it.”

Yet despite the extra attention, Childress has continued to produce. He averaged 20.4 points and 7.1 rebounds last season, showing his all-around explosiveness with single-game highs of 40 points, 20 rebounds and 14 assists. recruiting analyst Brick Oettinger considers him the 10th best senior in the country.

Childress is also an all-star off the court, boasting a 3.5 GPA and a score of 1,110 on the SAT. With the books as with his game, his family has been a big influence.

“They have always been a stickler about academics,” he says. “They make sure I have my academics intact before I even play basketball.”

Childress’ father is a retired health inspector, his mother is a psychologist, one brother is a police officer and the other is a teacher. The youngest son could not have slacked off even if he tried.

It only follows that family will play a big part in his college choice. “They’ll give their input on it to make sure I make the right decision,” he says.

Like many, Childress places paramount importance on how well he gets along with the head coach. He says Roy Williams’ decision to stay in Lawrence keeps Kansas in his final five, and that even an abrasive personality like Larry Brown wouldn’t deter him from Chapel Hill.

“The coach is very important, and the way I’ll step in and play,” he says. “I don’t want to go where they’re stacked [at my position] or the coach doesn’t like to play freshmen.”

With a unique set of skills, Childress shouln’t have to worry about hearing his number called.

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