Friday, November 3, 2006

ACC Preview


Player of the Year: Tyler Hansbrough, C, North Carolina

Newcomer of the Year: Thaddeus Young, SF, Georgia Tech

All-Conference Team:
G- Sean Singletary, Virginia
F- Al Thornton, Florida State
F- Jared Dudley, Boston College
C- Josh McRoberts, Duke
C- Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina

Second Team:
G- Anthony Morrow, Georgia Tech
G- J.R. Reynolds, Virginia
F- Reyshawn Terry, North Carolina
F- Coleman Collins, Virginia Tech
C- Ra'Sean Dickey, Georgia Tech

Third Team:
G- Greg Paulus, Duke
G- Zabian Dowdell, Virginia Tech
G- Jamon Gordon, Virginia Tech
G- Toney Douglas, Florida State
C- Ekene Ibekwe, Maryland

1. North Carolina- The Tar Heels come into the season with the most talent and depth of anyone in the country. They are absolutely loaded. The biggest problem for Roy Williams will likely be trying to find minutes for everyone in order to keep the returnees and the top-ranked recruiting class in the nation happy. It all starts with Tyler Hansbrough. My pick for National Player of the Year, Hansbrough is a beast on the interior. The 6-9 sophomore immediately became the Tar Heels’ go-to-guy last season and will continue to be the main man this year. He is very efficient shooting the ball and is a dominant scorer and rebounder. With more help down low this season, Hansbrough could have an even better year. That help will come from a slew of freshmen. McDonald’s All-American Brandan Wright was the top-ranked power forward recruit last season and could start immediately. He is very athletic and is effective both in a half-court setting and in the fast break. Alex Stepheson will fight for a starting spot next to Hansbrough as well. He is an outstanding rebounder and a very good defender who has a developing offensive game. Deon Thompson will provide depth off the bench due to his size and all-around post ability. The small forward spot will be manned by two returnees. All-conference candidate Reyshawn Terry is vastly underrated on a national level, but is poised to make a name for himself this season. He is very good at driving to the basket and getting points inside the arc. Danny Green will see minutes behind Terry again. He is above-average on the defensive end and can also make threes. The backcourt is equally as loaded, if not more. It might be the deepest group of perimeter players in recent history. The Tar Heels return both starters (Bobby Frasor and Wes Miller) and their backups (Quentin Thomas and Marcus Ginyard). Oh, they also bring in the top-ranked recruit at both positions (Tywon Lawson and Wayne Ellington). If chemistry is not a problem, this group is going to be outstanding. Lawson is an explosive guard that loves to push the ball in the open court. He is also a good defender. Ellington is an excellent shooter who can fill it up. Frasor is a solid point guard who will provide depth if Lawson gets the starting job over him. Thomas is quick but turnover-prone; he might be the odd man out at the point. The athletic Ginyard is the team's lock-down defender, while Miller is efficient from long-range. Prediction: NCAA

2. Duke- The Blue Devils lose two All-Americans in Player of the Year J.J. Redick and the fifth pick in the NBA Draft, Shelden Williams. Moreover, they lose two key role players in Sean Dockery and Lee Melchionni. However, not much will change in Durham—don’t cry for Mike Krzyzewski and Duke. They bring in one of the nation’s best recruiting classes, including four McDonald’s All-Americans. The Devils also return two starters and a couple of other contributors from last year’s club. The leading man will be post player Josh McRoberts. The 6-10 sophomore is a sure-fire lottery pick whenever he decides to enter the NBA Draft due to his versatility and all-around abilities. He will likely be the go-to-guy this season for Duke. He can run the floor and score both inside and outside. McRoberts is also a good rebounder and shot-blocker who can dunk with ferocity. Greg Paulus also returns as a starter. The 6-1 point guard is an exceptional passer who needs to cut down on his turnovers and become a better shooter in his sophomore season. He led the ACC in assists last year but that number could go down if he expands his offensive game. However, he was injured in October and his status for the start of the season is unclear. The third key returnee is DeMarcus Nelson. While he was not a starter last season, he played over 20 minutes per game and made the most of it. He is extremely athletic and uses that to get points and rebounds on the interior. He is also a very good three-point shooter and defender. A trio of sophomores will provide depth in forward Jamal Boykin, and guards Martynas Pocius and David McClure. The newcomers will see immediate playing time. Gerald Henderson could be the best of the bench. He is a 6-5 small forward who does most of his scoring inside the arc. He has an excellent mid-range game and can get to the basket. Another forward, Lance Thomas, will also fight for a starting spot. He is versatile and athletic and can score both down on the block and while slashing to the basket. His rebounding and energy will be key. Brian Zoubek would be a nice complement next to McRoberts inside. He is a back-to-the-basket player who does the majority of his damage in the paint. The 7-footer will be an interesting player to watch. The fourth freshman is Jon Scheyer. Compared to J.J. Redick right out of the game, Scheyer is an outstanding long-range shooter and a good ball-handler who could start at the point if Paulus can’t go for the opener. Prediction: NCAA

3. Boston College- The Eagles had a slow start last season, but finished strong, reaching the Sweet Sixteen before falling in the final seconds to #1 seed Villanova. They lose one of the best post players in the country in Craig Smith as well as point guard Louis Hinnant, but coach Al Skinner always gets the most out of his players and this year should be no different. All-America Jared Dudley leads the way. One of the best all-around players in the country, Dudley will fight for ACC Player of the Year honors. He is a very good inside-outside scorer who has developed a nice three-point stroke. He is also an excellent rebounder and an above-average passer who can defend multiple positions. Joining him in the frontcourt will be center Sean Williams. The 6-10 junior is an outstanding shot-blocker who has loads of potential inside. He is a good rebounder and scorer who needs to improve his production this season with the loss of Smith. Starting next to Williams will be a fight between several players. Junior John Oates returns as a starter inside, but will have to prove himself in order to start again. He can step out and shoot the three and is also a good rebounder and defender. Akida McLain has a lot of potential and could be a solid inside scorer due to his athleticism and skill, but has never played to his peak. He will have to wait this season, as he is suspended for the first nine games for an offseason incident (center Sean Williams is suspended for two). Freshman Shamari Spears will see plenty of minutes inside because of his all-around ability, while transfer Tyrelle Blair is an outstanding shot-blocker. In the backcourt, Sean Marshall and Tyrese Rice return. Marshall is a physical wing who is a very good defender and three-point shooter. He can do a little bit of everything on the court. Rice was the team’s sixth man last season, and will step in for Hinnant at the point. He is a good passer and a very good three-point shooter. Marquez Haynes is an athletic combo guard who will contribute off the bench. Freshmen Daye Kaba and Tyler Roche will see minutes on the perimeter. Prediction: NCAA

4. Georgia Tech- Georgia Tech is a candidate for the most improved team in the country. They only went 11-17 last season, winning just four games in the ACC. However, with four starters returning and the influx of two impact freshmen, the Yellow Jackets are poised to make noise on a national level come March. The Yellow Jackets’ frontcourt is relatively unproven right now, but it is definitely talented and has the potential to be one of the top five in the country. A lot of that depends on the arrival of Thaddeus Young. He can score from the perimeter and is also adept at driving to the basket and finishing. He is going to be a star—if only for a year. Ra’Sean Dickey was known for inconsistency for much of his first two seasons, but he broke out in the latter part of last season and looks primed for a big year. The underrated Jeremis Smith is an excellent rebounder and a solid defender next to Dickey down low. Mouhammed Faye will likely be the first big man off the bench, while Zach Peacock and Alade Aminu will also see minutes. The Yellow Jackets' perimeter group will not get much attention on a national level, but they have all the ingredients needed for a good backcourt. Javaris Crittenton is a highly touted point guard prospect and should cure some of Tech's turnover problems. He is an excellent scorer who likes to drive to the basket and will make an immediate impact. Anthony Morrow is a very good shooter from three-point range and can stretch the defense. He needs to add to his offensive package, though. Lewis Clinch can score from anywhere on the court. He can shoot the three but can also get points from inside the arc. Mario West is an excellent defender who can also provide offense. Prediction: NCAA

5. Florida State- Florida State looked like a lock for the NCAA Tournament late last season after their upset win over Duke, but they faltered down the stretch and missed the Big Dance. They should feel more comfortable come Selection Sunday this season. One of the main reasons for that optimism is the return of forward Al Thornton. Arguably the most underrated major-conference star in the country, Thornton will fight for All-America honors this year. He can play both forward spots and is capable of doing a variety of things on the court. He is at his best when driving to the basket but he can also shoot it from deep. Moreover, he is a solid rebounder. Playing with him in the frontcourt will be sophomore Uche Echefu and Ryan Reid. Echefu is a nice inside-outside scorer who could start in the low post with the early departure of Alexander Johnson. Reid is an athletic big man who will see minutes immediately. The perimeter is the team’s strength. Wings Jason Rich and Isaiah Swann are athletic and talented juniors who are good scorers. Either of them could have a breakout season this year. Senior Jerel Allen is another wing that has potential. The point will be run by Auburn transfer Toney Douglas. He is an outstanding scorer that can fill it up in a hurry. However, he will have to distribute and take care of the ball better than he did during his freshman season with the Tigers. Junior Ralph Mims will back him up. Prediction: NCAA

6. Virginia- Virginia is capable of making the leap into the NCAA Tournament this season after a 15-15 campaign last year in which they finished tied for 7th in the ACC. Five starters return, and coach Dave Leitao brought in some quality recruits that will help right away. The Cavaliers may own the country’s best backcourt duo in Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds. Both Sean Singletary and Reynolds are top-10 players at their respective positions and have the potential to carry UVA to a win. Singletary runs the point and will compete for All-America honors. He is an excellent penetrator and nearly always finds a way to get to the basket. He is constantly attacking the rim and either finishing himself or kicking it out to a teammate. Reynolds is a very good three-point shooter and has developed a more well-rounded offensive game. He can get to the basket and also has a solid mid-range game. Both Singletary and Reynolds are also decent defenders. Freshman Solomon Tat will provide depth and excellent on-ball defense. Also returning as a starter on the perimeter is Adrian Joseph. He is a very good scorer who can get points both inside and outside. Sophomore Mamadi Diane and freshman Will Harris will push for extensive minutes on the wing. Diane had a solid freshman season, while Harris is versatile and could create match-up problems with his size. The frontcourt is not as deep or talented. Jason Cain is the top returnee. He is a very good rebounder and has the ability to play on the perimeter due to his passing skills and face-up game. Sophomore Laurynas Mikalauskas is also back as a starter. He is a good inside player that provides rebounding and scoring underneath the basket. Junior Tunji Soroye is an excellent shot-blocker that will have a better season this year. Pennsylvania transfer Ryan Pettinella and freshman Jamil Tucker will also provide depth up front. Prediction: NCAA

7. Virginia Tech- Virginia Tech had a disappointing season last year, mainly due to off-the-court, tragic incidents, but return five starters and will make a run at the NCAA Tournament this season if they can keep focused on basketball. The Hokies return one of the best backcourt duos in the country in seniors Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon, both four-year starters at the guard spots. Both are top-25 performers at their respective positions. Gordon has a solid all-around game. He can score and pass the ball well, and is also one of the best rebounding and defensive guards in the conference. Dowdell is a very good scorer but needs to work on his three-point shooting. Combined with senior Coleman Collins, VT owns one of the best trios in the country. Collins has the potential to be an excellent big man if he develops some consistency. He is difficult to stop in the paint and is also a tough rebounder down low. Also returning as a starter is forward Deron Washington. He is very athletic and has a non-stop motor. He loves to run the floor and is a good scorer and rebounder. He is likely to move from power forward to small forward this season. Therefore, starting next to Collins in the post will be someone new. Sophomores Robert Krabbendam and Cheick Diakite will get the first shots. Diakite is a good rebounder, while Krabbendam is a 7-footer that has a variety of all-around skills. Freshman Louis Witcher is a shot-blocker. Seeing time off the bench on the perimeter will be A.D. Vassallo, who is a very good three-point shooter who creates havoc on defense with his athleticism and length. Senior Markus Sailes and freshman Nigel Munson will get minutes off the bench in the backcourt. Prediction: NCAA

8. Maryland- Maryland had yet another underachieving season last year, falling apart down the stretch and missing out in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. Unless the Terrapins play more as a team, Gary Williams could miss the Big Dance yet again. They key will be the fact that Maryland could have finally found an actual point guard, instead of trying to convert wings to point guards. Freshmen Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes will be thrown into the fire right away. Hayes is more of a pure point, as he is a solid ball-handler and three-point shooter who can distribute. Vasquez is athletic and could become a big-time scorer and playmaker. The influx of Hayes and Vasquez allows swingman D.J. Strawberry to play on the wing this season. He is an outstanding defender and athlete who is explosive on the open court. He can also shoot the three-pointer with efficiency. He will have to become the leader for the Terrapins. Mike Jones will also start on the wing. He is an excellent long-range shooter who has a developing mid-range game and could have a breakout season. Senior Parrish Brown and highly-touted freshman Landon Milbourne will provide depth on the perimeter. Up front, James Gist and Ekene Ibekwe return. They both are extremely athletic and need to come into their own this season. Ibekwe is a good face-up scorer and a solid rebounder who block shots, while Gist is a tough rebounder who can get points in the paint. JC transfer Bambale Osby and senior Will Bowers will provide depth down low. Osby and freshman Jerome Burney could develop into solid players in the coming seasons. Prediction: NIT

9. Clemson- If not for the glut of middle-of-the-pack teams ahead of them, Clemson could be a contender for a first-division finish. The Tigers were a respectable 19-13 last season, finishing tied for seventh in the ACC. Moreover, they return four starters and should be improved. They are extremely athletic, and are led by the guard tandem of Vernon Hamilton and Cliff Hammonds. They are both extremely quick on the defensive end, racking up steals, and are good at driving to the basket. However, neither is a very good shooter. Also on the perimeter are Sam Perry and K.C. Rivers. Perry is a decent scorer and rebounder, while Rivers is a good all-around player that can rebound well for his size as well as score, distribute, and play defense. The frontcourt is not as set as the perimeter. James Mays returns after being academically ineligible for the second semester. He is very athletic on the inside and is capable of dominating in the paint. He is an outstanding rebounder and a quality scorer inside. Sophomore Julius Powell and a trio of newcomers will battle for the other starting spot up front. Powell is a solid inside-outside player who can score and rebound. Freshman Trevor Booker is an excellent rebounder who can do a variety of things from the forward spot, while A.J. Tyler and Karolis Petrukonis will also see playing time down low. Prediction: NIT

10. Wake Forest- Wake Forest was tabbed as a preseason Top 25 team heading into last year, but the Demon Deacons never seemed to find a suitable replacement for Chris Paul and stumbled to a 17-17 (3-13 in the ACC) record. With the loss of five starters, Skip Prosser has his work cut out for him. The backcourt will be led by sophomores Harvey Hale and Shamaine Dukes, who faltered at the point guard position last season. Hale is a decent scorer and all-around player who will have to take on a bigger role this year, while Dukes is a quick guard who can pass. Joining them in the backcourt this season will be freshmen Ish Smith and Anthony Gurley. Smith is an extremely fast point guard who loves to push the ball, while Gurley has the potential to be a big-time scorer. Candidates to start on the wing and at small forward include returnees Michael Drum, Cameron Stanley, and Kevin Swinton, and freshman Jamie Skeen. Drum is an excellent outside shooter; Stanley has good potential as a rebounder and scorer; Swinton showed flashes of his abilities last season; and Skeen is a highly-touted inside-outside scorer. The post will be manned by senior Kyle Visser, who has always been a decent role player but needs to step up his production this season. Casey Crawford and Chas MacFarland will provide depth. Prediction: No Postseason

11. Miami (Fl.)- The Hurricanes were another disappointing team last season, finishing 7-9 in the ACC and going only 18-16 overall after being pegged as a potential sleeper in the conference. They lose the starting backcourt of Guillermo Diaz and Robert Hite, one of the nation’s highest-scoring guard duos. Replacing them will be Denis Clemente and Siena transfer Jack McClinton. Clemente is one of the fastest players with the ball in the ACC and is at his best when driving to the basket in the open court. McClinton was a big-time scorer in the MAAC who can also defend well. They will join returning starter Anthony Harris on the perimeter. Harris is a solid point guard who can take care of the ball and distribute very well. He is also a good three-point shooter. If coach Frank Haith does not want to go with a three-guard lineup, he can use Raymond Hicks and Brian Asbury at the three. Hicks creates match-up problems with his inside-outside ability, while Asbury will provide depth. Down low, Jimmy Graham and Anthony King return. Graham was a part-time starter last season who is a very good defender and a solid rebounder. King is one of the nation’s best shot-blockers and is an excellent defender and solid rebounder. If he improves his offense, look out. Freshmen Dwayne Collins and Lawrence Gilbert provide depth. Prediction: No Postseason

12. North Carolina State- The Wolfpack could take the biggest step back of any team in the ACC this season. They lose four starters from last season’s NCAA Tournament team, and also say goodbye to long-time coach Herb Sendek. The lone returning starter is Engin Atsur. He can handle the ball efficiently and is also a very good long-range shooter. He is not suited to be a go-to-guy though. He will combine in the backcourt with junior Gavin Grant. He is a very good all-around player who is one of the most versatile players around. He played extremely well down the stretch and looks to carry that momentum over to this season. Also on the perimeter will be sophomore wing Courtney Fells, who could develop into a solid contributor with more playing time. Newcomers Trevor Ferguson and Farnold Degand will see minutes in the backcourt. Up front, there is a severe lack of experience. Andrew Brackman would have returned, but he decided to concentrate on baseball this season. That leaves sophomores Ben McCauley and Brandon Costner as the leaders down low. Costner was a McDonald's All-American that can do a variety of things on the floor, while McCauley is a solid inside-outside scorer. Prediction: No Postseason


  1. do you honestly think that none of the freshmen on UNC will be on none of the All-Conference teams?!?!? I know one man who should be on at least the second team and that is Wayne Ellington. I've seen him play 4 times now and i'll tell you that guy is for real.

  2. you guys are retarted,Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida State are unedrachieving tems. Maryland is much better than these crappy teams. Maryland is also not an NIT team. Also D.J. Strawberry and Mike Jones desreve to be on the ALL-ACC SEcond and Third teams.

  3. I disagree on Virginia. When you only have an 8 man deep team playing 30 games in a season and going 15-15....thats not underachieving...its overachieving if anything. At least one of those 8 should have been dead from exhaustion at the end of last year. Sean Singletary and JR Reynolds will be one of the top two backcourts in the ACC this year and arguably one of the best in the country. They already beat a very solid Arizona squad to open the season and pick up a 4-1 Purdue team during the ACC/Big-10 challenge tomorrow. After the Challenge we'll have a very good idea of how the ACC will shake out vs. the rest of the conferences since the Big10 sports some pretty good teams this year, including Ohio State.