Such a player is Marquis Hicks, a senior at Frederick Douglass High in Atlanta who, at 6 feet, has a point guard's size but a shooting guard's mentality. "He doesn't even look for other players," says schoolboy scout Bob Gibbons, who publishes a recruiting sheet called All-Star Sports Report. "I wouldn't give you a plugged nickel for him if not for his ability as a three-point shooter. He's amazing." Hicks has accepted a scholarship to Oklahoma.
Which brings us, inevitably, to that nagging query: The three-point arc may belong in the game, but is it painted where it belongs? Answers vary. It gets thumbs up from Marquette coach Kevin O'Neill: "I'm one that likes it right where it is. It's great when a 7-footer can shoot from that distance and make it." Thumbs down from Bobby Cremins of Georgia Tech: "It seems like officials are throwing up the touchdown signal on a normal shot. I'd say move the line back, but don't eliminate it."
And the 19'9" distance gets pursed lips from former UCLA coach John Wooden: "If you're going to give somebody three points for standing on the perimeter and hitting a 19-foot [sic] shot, how do you reward the players who work the perfect give-and-go? Getting the ball inside takes solid fundamental skills and the toughness to go inside. That's the kind of play and teamwork that should be rewarded."
A survey of coaches at the 1987 Final Four showed that 36% of them wanted to see the line moved back. Some suggested redrawing it at 21'9", halfway between 19'9", which the high schools have been using since 1987-88, and the NBA's 23'9". "It's a natural progression," Harrick says. "It's just common sense."
Most seem to favor switching to the international stripe, which is 20'6" out. Crum, a newly appointed member of the NCAA coaches' rules committee, is one. "That's certainly better than where it is," he says. "I just don't like rewarding a player with an extra point for doing something that's relatively easy."
Ultimately, moving the three-point line farther away may assuage the egos of some coaches who feel that Steitz dictated the rule to them. And maybe it makes some sense to adopt 20'6", given that the current distance is shared with high schools and is shy of international standards. But no, the three is not too easy now; it's just easy enough. College basketball is more exciting than ever, by a long shot.
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