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Ranking The SoCon's 10 Quickest Guards Over The Past Three Decades (Part 1 of 2)

GREENVILLE, S.C.--In recent times, college basketball has evolved into a game that favors guard play over a dominating post presence, and in the past three decades, that evolution of the position has played out on a grand stage in the Southern Conference.

DJ Thompson Appalachian State
DJ Thompson Appalachian State
Photo Courtesy Appalachian State Athletics

Southern Conference Flashback
Top 10 Quickest Guards From The Past 30 Years (Part 1 of 2):

GREENVILLE, S.C.--In recent times, college basketball has evolved into a game that favors guard play over a dominating post presence, and in the past three decades, that evolution of the position has played out on a grand stage in the Southern Conference.

This article will attempt to take the 10 quickest guards over the past three decades and rank them, counting down from No. 10-No.1. Part I of this article will feature a countdown from No. 10-6, while later in the week I will take a look back at the Top 5 quickest guards in the SoCon from the past three decades.

10. Julius Jenkins (Georgia Southern, 1999-2003)--Julius Jenkins was most remembered for his quick first step off the dribble and his outstanding athleticism, as he would play during the early years of the Jeff Price era, and would help lead a resurgence of Georgia Southern basketball.

The Eagles, who are now part of the Sun Belt Conference, along with former league member Appalachian State, were one of the programs known for bringing in that type of guard, dating all the way back to their inaugural season in the SoCon of 1992-93 under the direction of former head coach Frank Kerns.

Not only was Jenkins an explosive leaper, which saw him on numerous occasions, get out on a break and throw down windmill dunks, but he also was Jenkins an incredibly quick guard, he was also an explosive scorer. In fact, Jenkins finished his career as the program's all-time leading scorer, closing out his career in the Georgia Southern Blue and Gold, posting 1,870 points from 1999-2003.

9. Jason Williams (Marshall, 1994-96)--Though he played only two seasons for former Southern Conference member Marshall before transferring to Florida to join head Billy Donovan, sharp-shooting guard Jason Williams would ply his trade running the point for the Thundering Herd.

The tattooed Williams, who would later become known as "White Chocolate" during his time spent in Sacramento with the Kings early in his NBA career, would electrify Southern Conference and Marshall crowd with his flashy passing, circus shots in the late, and long three-point attempts. Before their was Steph Curry launching from beyond NBA range, there was Williams and teammate Keith Veney, who would set the single game NCAA record for three-pointers in a game, with 15 in a game against Murray State.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j4q44lAFsM

Williams came from Dupont High School in Belle, West Virginia. The now defunct high school also produced NFL prodigy wide receiver Randy Moss.

Williams was a two-time All-SoCon selection before transferring out to join the Florida Gators following the 1995-96 season. Williams had originally signed with Providence, but after Rick Barnes left to become the head coach at Clemson, he ended up joining Donovan at Marshall.

In Williams' freshman season of 1994-95, he averaged 13.4 PPG and 6.4 APG, as he helped turn Marshall from a program that won just nine games in the 1993-94 campaign prior to his arrival, to one that went 18-9 in his first season playing for Donovan.

8. D.J. Thompson (App State 2003-2007)--One of the most electrifying guards from the mid-2000s in Southern Conferene basketball was no doubt D.J. Thompson.

Thompson could do it on both ends of the floor as well, and he was a big part of the reason why former Mountaineer head coach Houston Fancher's club was a force to be reckoned with in the Southern Conference during his senior season, as the Apps won a school-record 25 games, which included knocking off the likes of Wichita State, Virginia, Vanderbilt and Central Florida just to name a few.

His driving tear-drop layup against Wichita State to win the game in the Koch Arena before better than 8,000 on hand in attendance to see the Bracket Buster game between the Shockers and Mountaineers is one of the real indeliable
memories from his career. He also helped the Mountaineers hand Steph Curry's Davidson Wildcats their only Southern Conference loss of the season. The Wildcats went on to defeat College of Charleston in the Southern Conference title game to make it to the NCAA Tournament.

Thompson would finish out his decorated career for the Black and Gold, with as one of the best players in program history. He finished his career with 1,599-career points, which was good enough for seven on the all-time scoroing ledger at the time, and he also finished out his outstanding career in the Black and Gold as the all-time steals leader and was second in career assists during what was a prolific Mountaineer career.

7. Stephen Croone (Furman 2012-16)--Stephen Croone is currently one of the most prolific scoring point guards in the Southern Conference, and he is helping Furman's basketball get back on track, recently moving in a win over ETSU last week and he currently ranks No. 8 (as of Feb. 6, 2016) in points, having posted 1,732 points in his outstanding Furman career, which ranks ahead of some of the program's all-time greats, including Clyde Mayes, George Singleton and Mel Daniel. Next on the list is Simpsonville, S.C., native Bruce Evans, who has 1,773-career points to rank seventh on the list.

Croone will also finish his Paladin career ranked in the top 10 in both steals and career assists. The Paladins are undergoing a resurgence, currently at No. 2 in the Southern Conference as we head down the stretch.

Croone had a buzzer-beating tip-in earlier this season in a win over Wofford, and his athleticism and quickness can keep Furman in most any game, but it's his overall knowledge of the game, and that intelligence and quickeness allows him to get to the foul line. In his sophomore season, posted a 40-point game in a win over Liberty and ranked second in the SoCon in scoring, at 19.1 PPG.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTxD_8-XvWc&t=29s

6. Elton Nesbitt (2003-06)--A player that was named the 2006 Southern Conference Player of the Year and finished his career as one of the best to ever emerge from Georgia Southern.

Nesbitt helped the Eagles to a Southern Conference South Division Title during the 2005-06 season, and it was Nesbitt that had much to do with that Georgia Southern success during that particular time frame.

In the 2003-04 season, Nesbitt averaged 15.7 PPG and and lead the Eagles to a 21-8 overall record. In his junior campaign, he averaged 20.2 PPG and was a First-Team All-SoCon pick.

In his senior season, he went on to put up some absolutely ridiculous totals, including a 36-point effort against UNCG and a 43-point effort against Chattanooga. In that 43-point effort against Chattanooga, Nesbitt set a Georgia Southern single-game record with 11 triples on a program record 16 attempts from long-range. He ranked second in program history in career 30-point games, with eight during his time as an Eagle.

By sporting the best regular-season league record, Georgia Southern qualified for its first postseason appearance in the NIT for the first time in 14 years. The Eagles completed the season with a 20-10 record. Nesbitt finished his career with 1,731-career points to finish seventh in school history in scoring.

Stay tuned for part two of this article, as Mid-Major Madness counts down the top five quickest guards over the past three decades coming up next week.