Michael Snaer (Getty Images)
Say this for Florida State's Michael Snaer: He has never lacked for confidence.
He spurned established powers like UCLA in high school because he wanted to "make history" by turning Florida State into a winner. He said entering last season that the Seminoles shouldn't settle for anything less than a national title. And now, in an interview with ESPN.com on Thursday, he claimed he's out to prove he's the nation's best shooting guard.
"[At LeBron's camp], I think we did one-on-one drills one time. I just straight destroyed people," Snaer said in the interview. "So I mean, at that moment, I just knew, in my opinion, I'm the best guard in the country, the best two-guard in the country, in my opinion. Any guy would say that of course. But, like I said, you ask any of the guys that were down there [in] that drill with me and who laced up and went against me -- I can give you references if you want — but they'll tell you, 'Yeah, I couldn't guard him and nobody down there could.'"
Snaer's bravado may sometimes get him in trouble, but in this case he has every right to insist he should be in the running for the title of top shooting guard. He averaged 14 points per game last year, limited his turnovers, played his usual brand of fierce perimeter defense and shot much more comfortably from behind the arc, sinking 40 percent of his threes including a pair of buzzer-beaters against Duke and Virginia Tech.
Of the nation's returning shooting guards, only a handful are in Snaer's class.
• Florida's Kenny Boynton averaged 15.9 points per game last season and displayed much smarter shot selection than in previous years.
• Lehigh's C.J. McCollum averaged 21.9 points per game despite defenses geared to blanket him and scorched Duke for 30 in the NCAA tournament.
• Missouri's Michael Dixon showed signs he may be capable of taking over the Tigers' go-to scorer role this year, averaging an efficient 13.5 points per game.
• Kansas State's Rodney McGruder transformed himself from a 3-point shooter into an all-around player as a junior, getting to the free-throw line almost twice as many times as the previous year and showing off an improved midrange game.
• And guys like Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick, Utah State's Preston Medlin, Temple's Khalif Wyatt, Arkansas' B.J. Young, North Carolina's P.J. Hairston and Cal's Allen Crabbe could all make the leap to that next level with continued development.
Decorated freshmen like Shabazz Muhammad, Ben McLemore and Archie Goodwin may yet outclass their elders, but it's hard to argue that any of the returning shooting guards are head-and-shoulders better than Snaer.
Does Young have more upside? Probably. Is McGruder a better pure shooter? Yes. And is Dixon quicker getting to the rim? Without a doubt. But Snaer's combination of size, quickness, defensive prowess and an improving jump shot are validation for why he was once a consensus five-star recruit out of Rancho Verde High in Moreno Valley, Calif.
It took Snaer a couple years to blossom into the player Florida State expected him to be. Now he's reached that level and he's not afraid to let everyone know it.
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