Home Illustration UCLA’s Amari Bailey and Kansas’ MJ Rice highlight Sports Illustrated’s best shooting guards for 2022

UCLA’s Amari Bailey and Kansas’ MJ Rice highlight Sports Illustrated’s best shooting guards for 2022



Now that we’ve officially launched the SI99 Hoops for 2022, we’ve started to dig deeper into the outlook for each position.

Today we take a look at shooting guards who use a combination of agility, skill and powerful engines to dominate on both sides of the ground.

1. Amari Bailey, Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, CA)

University: UCLA

What makes it special: Bailey is a quick, devious left-handed guard who combines a three-level scoring ability with elite athleticism and a relentless motor. Bailey plays with an advantage and doubles as an excellent defender on the ball. He feels good as a playmaker but is at his best when in attack mode.

2. Nick Smith Jr., North Little Rock (Ark.)

University: Arkansas

What makes it special: Smith is a dangerous scorer on all three levels with a great feeling as a passer. Smith’s ability to shoot upwards and effectively knock down shots from mid-range opens up every other aspect of his game. He’s a fiery competitor on both ends of the court and plays with an advantage at all times. This summer, Smith dominated the Nike EYBL, averaging 22 points, five rebounds and four assists per game for Brad Beal Elite (Mo.).

3. Dariq Whitehead, Academy of Montverde (Florida)

University: Duke

What makes it special: Whitehead is an exceptional athlete who is nearly impossible to keep out of the way and uses his brute force to finish in contact. His ability to score at all three levels combined with his size and fast speed make him a puzzle of a defensive mission for the opposition. Whitehead helped Montverde win the GEICO Nationals title last season and averaged 16.5 points, six rebounds and three assists per game for Team Durant (Md.) In the Nike EYBL this summer.

4. MJ Rice, Prolific Prep (Napa, CA)

University: Kansas

What makes it special: Rice is a special blend of skill and strength with the ability to dominate at all three levels and lock down opposing wings on the defensive side. Rice’s bullyball at times eclipses his effectiveness as a sniper from the perimeter, and his speed and athleticism allow him to enter the lane at will and finish with authority. This summer, Rice averaged 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game for Team Loaded (NC) in the adidas 3SSB.

5. Zion Cruz, Donda Academy (Simi Valley, CA)

University: Undecided

What makes it special: Cruz is an exceptional playmaker and maintains constant pressure on defense with his speed, quickness and ability to score. Cruz’s punching ability is elite, as is his ability to stop on a dime and knock back shots from the perimeter. He has a strong sense of animator but is at his best when in attack mode.