You have to be careful when you're walking into a gym to play pick up. If you're not picking up on clues - how players walk into the gym, how they tie their shoes and get loose - then you might get stuck guarding someone who is going to embarrass you. As a 6-footer who isn't the quickest guy on the court, I've learned to master these cues. Hopefully I wouldn't be dumb enough to end up guarding one of these guys.
These are players who might not look like ballers when they're walking down the street. But once the game tips then look out. Here's the All American team for sub 6-footers.
To qualify their official team site has to list them at under 6-feet. So no complaints that Isaiah Canaan or D.J. Cooper or anyone else isn't on the team (seriously, D.J. Cooper? I've stood next to him and could see the top of his head). If their school wants to claim that they're at least as tall as me, then so be it. They're off.
Pierre Jackson, 5-10, Baylor. A no-brainer for this list, as he could very likely end up as an All American regardless of height. He had the 18th best assist rate in the nation, recorded a steal on 3.5% of their opponent's possessions, made 41% of his threes and over half his twos. And he was either All Big 12 First Team or Second Team, depending on which list you feel is most credible. He is a JUCO transfer, so his 2nd season at Baylor will be his last.
Phil Pressey, 5-11, Missouri. Another candidate for the actual All American team, Pressey might be the best point guard in the SEC. The media picked him as 2nd team Big 12 last year, and the coaches pegged him 3rd team. Regardless, he led the conference in assists and steals. He had an offensive rating over 113, and could score from anywhere. If he can improve on his 37% 3-point shooting, then he might be the best little player in America.
Neil Watson, 5-11, Southern Mississippi. The Conference USA Newcomer of the Year and 6th Man of the Year returns for his junior season after leading his team in scoring and finishing 2nd in the conference in assists. He doesn't turn the ball over, he's great at getting to the line, and once there he makes 84%. He also makes 38% of his threes.
Anthony Ireland, 5-10, Loyola Marymount. The 1st Team All-West Coast Conference guard led his team in scoring (16.1 ppg), assists (4.9) and steals (1.7). He also takes care of the ball. The only real knock is that he struggles from deep, but he makes half his twos and is a 77% shooter from the line. Just a junior, he still has plenty of time to develop.
Chaz Williams, 5-9, UMASS. After playing his high school ball in Brooklyn, it's hard not to stereotype him as your typical tough New York City guard. And stereotype away, because it fits. He led the team in minutes, assists, steals and threes, while averaging almost 17 points and 4 and a half boards. And he's 5-9. In shoes.
(Under) 6th man: Aaron Bright, 5-11, Stanford. The long range sniper (44% from beyond the arc) needs to play more minutes, but he was 2nd on the team in scoring and first in assists. If he can cut down his turnovers and play better defense then he'll move into the under 6-foot starting lineup.