Sunday, June 26, 2005
Tar Heels charm Mr. Basketball
Marcus Ginyard and Kristi Toliver are the top in-state prospects.
In the 24 years that The Roanoke Times has sought to identify the top boys' basketball in the state, no school has laid claim to more Mr. Basketball selections than the University of North Carolina.
The latest is Marcus Ginyard, a 6-foot-5 guard from Bishop O'Connell, who clinched his selection with a one-word answer to the question, "Where do you live?"
"Alexandria," Ginyard said.
While The Roanoke Times recognizes boarding-school players for its annual ranking of the state's top college prospects, in-state residence is required for Mr. and Ms. Basketball.
That was never an issue with 5-foot-7 guard Kristi Toliver, this year's choice as Ms. Basketball. Toliver is from Harrisonburg, where her father played for one of the first men's teams at James Madison University before embarking on an officiating career that took him to the NBA.
Toliver, the first Ms. Basketball to sign with Maryland, realized in middle school that she was a major-college prospect but she had received her first offer long before that.
"It was from JMU," she said. "I think I was four."
Like the 2004 Ms. Basketball, Roanoke native Khadijah Whittington, Toliver grew up as a Connecticut fan and wanted to play for the Huskies. Toliver went elsewhere despite getting an offer from UConn.
"I didn't necessarily let my dream school go; I just found a better place ... here," said Toliver by phone from College Park, Md., where she is attending summer school.
Both Ginyard and Toliver would be classified as "combo" guards, capable of playing either point guard or shooting guard. For Toliver, whose older sister, Carli, holds the career 3-point record at Lehigh, shooting came naturally.
"Except for my last two years of high school, I've never really been a point guard," Toliver said. "I've always been a shooting guard. [Playing point guard in college] will be a little different, but it should be a fairly easy transition."
The transition for Ginyard took place this past season, when he became the primary scorer for Bishop O'Connell after filling a variety of roles in his first three seasons.
Even without the big scoring numbers, Ginyard caught the attention of North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who described him as "maybe as far along defensively as any player I can remember on the perimeter coming out."
Ginyard got an offer from the Tar Heels in the summer before his junior year.
"It was kind of a shock to me since North Carolina is one of the greatest basketball schools," Ginyard said. "So, it did kind of surprise me a little bit that they offered so early."
Previous Virginia Mr. Basketball selections to sign with North Carolina have been Ronald Curry (1997-98), Jason Capel (1996), George Lynch (1989), J.R. Reid (1986) and Kevin Madden (1984-85).
That's six players and a total of eight seasons. Virginia is next with five, all between 1991 and 2003.
Ginyard and fellow UNC recruit Bobby Frasor both have been listed as combo guards, which is fine with Ginyard, who has determined during pick-up games that he and Frasor can play in the same backcourt.
"I never felt that I wasn't an offensive player," said Ginyard, who averaged more than 20 points this past season, up from 13.2 as a junior. "When the time came for me to step into that role, I did. It wasn't that I had to prove to anybody what I could do because I knew what I could do. They just hadn't seen it."