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Kentucky Wildcats: 2012-13 Starters - Ryan Harrow

Ryan Harrow has a very clever handle and excellent quickness and athleticism.
Ryan Harrow has a very clever handle and excellent quickness and athleticism.

[This is the second in a series about the players likely to be starters in 2012-2013 given what we know today.]

Ryan Harrow, man of mystery. Well, not really -- he played for a year for the N.C. State Wolfpack under former head coach Sidney Lowe during 2010-11, and was in the same recruiting class as Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones.

Harrow began the 2010-11 campaign for N.C. State as a bench player, then gradually worked his way up to sixth man. Three games into the ACC conference season, Harrow took over as the starting point guard from senior Javier Gonzalez. After the season, he transferred to Kentucky where he has long been expected to assume the starting point guard role in 2012-13 after sitting out his year in residence at Kentucky.

Harrow was highly recruited out of high school, and was ranked higher in the 2010 RSCI consolidated recruiting rankings than Doron Lamb, Kendall Marshall, Dion Waiters and Terrence Ross, all of whom are in the NBA Draft this year. That should tell you something about his talent.

Harrow's statistics at N.C. State were not particularly impressive for such a highly-ranked player -- 23 minutes/game, 9.3 points, 3.3 assists, 1.8 turnovers, A/T ratio of 1.9 and 29% from three. The thing is, Harrow is a much better player than those numbers indicate, and one thing he does very well is take care of the basketball. As a redshirt junior next season, Harrow is the presumptive starter at point guard, and will be from day 1.

Harrow has a game that is more similar to that of Knight than Marquis Teague or John Wall. Teague was a big, strong point guard with extreme athleticism who could really finish at the rim, very much a power player from the point guard position. Harrow is more of a finesse player that is largely necessitated by his slight frame and smaller size (Listed generously by UK as 6'2", 175#, but he's more likely just over 6').

Harrow has a very clever handle, and will remind some of Rajon Rondo in his deceptive quickness, remarkable ballhandling and ability to change direction and speed. But unlike Rondo or Teague, Harrow has very good shooting form and despite his relatively unimpressive 3-point statistics from NC State, Harrow should be able to shoot the college three at a high percentage.

Where Harrow is not so great is finishing at the rim. He's not strong enough to bull his way through defenders like Teague was, or tall enough to jump over opposing point guards like Wall and Teague were. Harrow relies more on his quickness and clever handle to beat players off the dribble, then tries to get into the body of defenders and get fouled on the way to the rim.

Like Knight, Harrow is a very good free-throw shooter, shooting 87% from the line with the Wolfpack, including 3 games where he went 8-8 and one where he went 9-10. Harrow scored almost 25% of his points from the free throw line, which made him a very efficient, if not particularly productive scorer. His assist percentage was also high, 113th in the nation. Harrow is an excellent, even outstanding passing point guard.

Defensively, Harrow is small for a Calipari point guard. Calipari generally prefers bigger, stronger guys at the point, and Harrow will be a genuine departure in that respect. But Harrow has quick feet and quick hands, and should be able to develop into a solid defender. His lack of size could be a problem against larger, stronger guards, but his athleticism and quickness will help make up for some of that.

Since transferring to Kentucky, Harrow has been competing against Teague every day in practice, and there is no doubt Teague made him better, and vice versa. Of all the players on the 2012-13 team, Harrow looks the most ready to assume a leadership role, both as a natural consequence of his position and by dint of his three years of maturity past high school.

If Harrow can shoot the ball as well as he should be able to, it will make Kentucky very formidable indeed. Right now, the Wildcats only have one proven 3-point shooter in Kyle Wiltjer, and the Wildcats will need more in order to be able to compete for an NCAA title. Alex Poythress can hit the shot, but most of his time will be spent attacking the basket, as will Archie Goodwin. So Harrow is going to have to play the game very similar to how Brandon Knight played it rather than the way Teague and Wall did.

Here's a bit of Ryan in action from a recent YouTube video: