ACC Basketball: 17-18 Conference Preview

The ACC is often dubbed the best conference in college basketball. With basketball blue bloods like Duke, North Carolina, Louisville and Notre Dame, it’s easy to see why the conference garners the respect it has. This year the ACC has it all: defending champs, potential #1 pick, and additional NBA prospects all over the place. Let’s take a look at how the ACC Conference was voted in the preseason.

Projected Finishes

  1. Duke – No shock. Duke is the Preseason #1, and for good reason. Marvin Bagley is one of the most talented players in the country and Duke has a true point guard in Trevon Duval. Grayson Allen returning to form will be the piece that puts this Duke team over the top.
  2. North Carolina – This will be a different look UNC team, mainly in size. Meeks, Hicks, Bradley and Justin Jackson all leave. Joel Berry is the team’s nucleus but he’s dealing with several injuries to start the year. Pitt grad transfer Cam Johnson will be big in Berry’s absence. Fellow senior Theo Pinson is a crucial piece to the puzzle. He’s Roy Williams’s Swiss Army knife and will use a different role every night.
  3. Notre Dame – Bonzie Colson torched ACC bigs for 18 and 10 a night last year. Mike Brey will need an increased effort from TJ Gibbs for his team to compete with the best of the ACC. Improvement there, plus Colson and Matt Farrell, gives the Irish solid foundation going into the year.
  4. Miami – The Hurricanes have a veteran guard in JaQuan Newton, highly touted freshman Lonnie Walker, and potential breakout player in Bruce Brown. The keys for Miami will be Walker’s health; He had ACL surgery over the summer but has been cleared completely. If he is healthy out the gate, Miami will be a nightmare opponent.
  5. Louisville –  I think Deng Adel will be one of the best players in the conference in his senior year. The biggest piece for Louisville will be replacing Donovan Mitchell. VJ King will get the first crack and if he can do an adequate job, Lousiville can possibly have as smooth a transition a possible.
  6. Virginia – UVA will have an exciting back court with Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and Devon Hall. Their issue will be upfront, where they are very thin outside senior Isiah Wilkins. The Cavaliers need to replace their top three scorers in London Perrantes, Austin Nichols and Marial Shayok. Grad transfer Nigel Johnson will help fill some of this loss. A bit of a college journeyman, Johnson averaged 11 points a game last year for Rutgers. He will bring that scoring mentality to Charlottesville, for what will be his third NCAA team.
  7. Virginia Tech – They lose their top 2 two scorers in Seth Allen and Zach LeDay, but they have a solid core returning. Chris Clarke has the ability to lead them in scoring and rebounds. Buzz Williams also has a strong group of guards, including Justin Robinson, Ahmed Hill and Top 100 freshman Wabissa Bede and Nikeil Alexander-Walker.
  8. Florida State – Florida State being eight was a bit of a surprise considering they lost two NBA players and one G-League player. FSU rotated a lot of guys last season, so they do return players who experienced ACC play. None will be more crucial than Terrance Mann. Helping in the back court is highly touted freshman MJ Walker. If the Seminoles can get production out of the great size they have on their roster, they could soldif this pick at eight.
  9. Georgia Tech – Georgia Tech enjoyed a nice NIT run before running into a red hot TCU team in the Championship game. The Yellow Jackets have one of the better one-two punches in the conference in Ben Lammers and Josh Okogie, both of whom received preseason All-ACC honors.
  10. Syracuse – Syracuse was a underwhleming team last year to say the least. Not Tyler Lydon or Andrew White leaves them with even less than last year. Tyus Battle will be their best player and they will need junior Frank Howard to be much more consistent than last season. I do think Cuse has a couple of nice freshman that are a year away from really making an impact.
  11. Wake Forest – Bryant Crawford was overshadowed by John Collins at points last year. That will not be the case this year, as he will be shine for the Demon Deacons. Upfront may be somewhat shaky, but strong guard support with Keyshawn Woods, Brandon Childress and Mitchell Wilbekin will lead this team.
  12. NC State – It’s year one under Kevin Keatts and that’s good news for Wolfpack fans. Keatts fortunately starts his tenure with a good veteran presence. Abdul-Malik Abu returns and Baylor grad transfer Al Freeman gets added into the mix. NC State also has a great freshman in Lavar Batts that will turn heads. 
  13. Clemson – Clemson loses their all-conference talent in Jarred Blossomgame, but Tigers fans will see a more balanced offense this year. They return four of their top six scorers, all of which averaged 7-10 points last year.
  14. Boston College – I don’t need to tell BC fans about Ky Bowman and Jerom Robinson. Despite the struggles BC’s had, and may have, these two can score with anyone in the conference. Jordan Chatman also returns as the team’s third leading scorer, though there a big drop off between second and third.
  15. Pittsburgh – It will be a tough year for Pitt fans, as they watch Jamie Dixon and TCU flourish and their team struggle. They lose 65 points a game from a team that was bad last year. This year will be a lot of evaluating young players and see who fits for the future.

Preseason Awards

Player of the Year – Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame)

I mentioned it above, Colson dominated last season in the paint. Crowned an undersized post player, Colson proves you don’t need to tower over opponents to have success. Colson has the ability to beat defenders from inside and out. Add to it the fact that Mike Brey is great at putting Colson in positions to best succeed, and you have trouble if you’re on the opposing sideline. Duke has the diaper dandies, UNC may be the returning National Champs, and Louisville and Miami have better NBA prospects, but Notre Dame has the Player of the Year.

Freshman of the Year – Marvin Bagley (Duke)

Again, this is really not a surprise. Duke has a number of talented freshman, and Miami does have a super talented player in Lonnie Walker, but none of them compare to Bagley. Many have called him the best prospect since Lebron, and his arrival has been long awaited. On a loaded Duke team, Bagley’s numbers won’t reach their maximum potential, but you will see his ability to change the course of a game several times throughout the year.

All ACC Teams

First Team 

Bonzie Colson – Notre Dame

Marvin Bagley – Duke 

Joel Berry – UNC

Grayson Allen – Duke

Ben Lammers – Georgia Tech

Second Team 

Bruce Brown – Miami

Quentin Snider – Lousiville

Deng Adel – Lousiville

Josh Okogie – Georgia Tech

Jerome Robinson – Boston College

ACC Games To Watch for Upcoming 2017-18 Season

With the basketball season right around the corner, starting Nov. 10, let’s break down some highlighted games and match-ups in one of the most talented, lethal conferences – the ACC.

A few exhibition games here and there, we won’t see action as a collective until the 19th annual Big 10/ACC Challenge Nov. 27-30. The conference leads the Big Ten in the challenge, 11-5-2.

ACC conference play

The ACC starts conference play Dec. 9, when Duke travels to Boston College. Don’t expect a riveting contest between the Eagles and the Blue Devils. Boston College has finished dead last the past two season, and they had an infamous 0-18 conference play record during the 2015-16 season. The battle begins in a conference that has won eight of the last 17 NCAA Championship Tournaments and combined for 63 Final Four appearances.

Tough proving ground for the faint-hearted.

The following match ups are in chronological order as the season progresses and give fans some excitement to look forward to.

Virginia at Virginia Tech –  Wednesday, January 3rd

Why not highlight a showdown between the two in-state teams. Virginia is looking to find its identity again on the road. Last year Virginia Tech topped off Virginia in a double overtime game in Blacksburg. It may be a down year for Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers, which will make this rivalry all the more interesting during the 17-18 season. 

North Carolina at Notre Dame – Saturday, January 13th

Any game that pits two of the most talented players in the conference head-to-head. Joel Berry II is an all-around stud, when healthy. He is an early favorite to win ACC Player of the Year. But Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson, another favorite to win the PoY, is going to protect his house when the Tar Heels come to town.

Duke at Miami – Monday, January 15th

Miami is a contender in the ACC. This isn’t news. They won the ACC title in 2013, and they see no reason why this year isn’t their year. Highly touted freshman Lonnie Walker is recovering from a knee injury, but should be back by the start of the season and fully healthy by this game. The game is highlighted because Duke is favored to win the ACC with their talented group of incoming freshman, giving the Hurricanes the ultimate proving ground early in conference play. Duke will look to outplay with talent in order to overcome a more experienced, sized Miami team.

Louisville at Miami – Wednesday, January 24th

Miami could have momentum coming into this contest if they manage a win at home against Duke. Louisville’s season is going to start with distraction, as Rick Pitino will be suspended the first five games for an off the court scandal. In early season polls, Miami sits atop of the Cardinals, who while was a No. 2 seed in last year’s tournament lost a key piece in Donovan Mitchell.

Duke at UNC – Thursday, February 8th

It’s the rivalry game we as basketball fans wait all season for. It’s part one of the epic saga between two powerhouse programs, separated by the 10-mile stretch on Tobacco Road. This game will be a perfect gauge of talent among the two programs. For obvious reasons, this game is going to draw the attention of the entire NCAA, not just the ACC. 

Last season’s results: Duke topped UNC, 86-78, at Cameron while the Tar Heels had the final say at home, closing out the season with a 90-83 win.

Louisville at Duke – Wednesday, February 21st

This is a big test for Louisville. The Cardinals look for a pair of wins in thee days against UNC and Duke. Two wins would give Louisville a boost up in polls and nods for better seeding in the tournament. While back to back games against UNC and Duke is never easy, the Cards have a veteran team capable of handling this tough test. It won’t be an easy year for the Cardinals. Hopefully they have talent to back up the team.

UNC at Duke – Saturday, March 3rd

The battle on Tobacco Road part two is a hands-down, no-brainer hyped game. Why not save the best for last. UNC not only has to take on a prolific Blue Devils team, but they have to keep their focus in one of the most legendary gyms in Cameron Indoor. At this point in the season, you can expect the two teams to be vying for the best eye bid. It will be a challenge to take on the Crazies at home. Not to mention it’s senior night for Grayson Allen. Talk about your momentum. 

Player watch list:

  • Joel Berry II, UNC

  • Deng Adel, Louisville

  • Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame

  • Grayson Allen, Duke

  • Bruce Brown, Miami

  • Marvin Bagley, Duke

An Early Look At The ACC

ACC Basketball

We are 51 days away from the college basketball season. While college basketball season is fast approaching, many of us cannot have the new season come soon enough. With that said, let’s take an early look at the ACC for next season. Here’s our 1 through 15.

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Chris Lykes commits to Miami Hurricanes

Chris Lykes committed to Jim Larranaga and Miami Sunday, choosing the Hurricanes over Villanova. 

Reggie Rankin, of ESPN’s Recruiting Nation, said Chris Lykes is “one of the fastest rising prospects in the class of 2017,” and as an alum of the Hoop Group, we couldn’t agree more.

Lykes is a 5-foot-6 point guard for Gonzaga College High School, hailing from Bowie, Md. Starting out unranked in his 2017 class, has shot up to No. 46 spot.

Chris Lykes

Chris Lykes

Larranaga made his selling point pretty clear from the start. On top of a successful resume working with small guards, Lykes was sold on the immediate opportunity to contribute for the Canes in the competitive ACC.

“He is a leader and has the basketball IQ of a coach. Lykes has three point range and can get into the lane at will where he is an excellent finisher and finder,” Rankin said about the future Cane.

The four-star recruit will join D.J. Russell, a three-star forward out of Jacksonville, Fla., that has been committed to Miami for four years.

Ja’Quan Newton and Melvin Johnson Show Out at Day 3 of Exposure Camp

Melvin Johnson at Hoop Group Elite Basketball CampIt’s not easy to Be Elite. At the Hoop Group Elite Exposure Basketball Camp at Albright College in Reading, Pennslyvania, the top-tier talent knows what it takes. From silky-smooth floor-generals to big men who own the post, the list below summarizes many of the prospects who impressed on day three of the summer basketball camp:

Ja’Quan Newton ’14 Neumann-Goretti (PA): The rising sophomore was extremely impressive on the Elite Camp’s third day. At 6’3, Newton has a superb ball-handling skill-set. Once past his defender, Newton has great body control once in mid-air around the rim. This allows him to finish at the basket with contact, a trait not found in most players today.

Melvin Johnson ’12 St. Benedict’s (NJ): The former Rice (NY) high school standout has been great on the offensive end throughout the entire camp. From displaying his lethal jump-shot from beyond the arc to finishing with ease around the rim, Johnson (pictured above) is making defenses weary when with the ball.

Ryan Denicola ’12 Blair Academy (NJ): Denicola is one of the more interesting prospects in the camp. At 6’7, the big fella is as rugged as they come inside the paint, but also has the ability to step beyond the perimeter and knock down the contested three. His size poses as a threat once charging in for a rebound on both ends of the floor.

Myles Davis ’12 Notre Dame Prep (MA): Davis was one of the more high-profiled prospects coming into camp, and the sharp-shooter has yet to disappoint. The 6’2 guard has displayed a solid offensive game. Similar to Johnson, Davis has been a threat each time to steps out onto the court due to his shooting stroke from beyond the arc.

Tobe Okerfor ’12 Mount Zion (MD): At 6’11, Okerfor is arguably one of the top big men in the entire Elite Camp. The Baltimore-product has a uncanny ability to swat shots left and right due to his length and basketball IQ. While Okerfor has yet to take over a game on the offensive end, his shot-blocking has proved to a major factor in a games outcome.

Justin Jenkins ’12 Wings Academy (NY): Playing alongside Johnson, Jenkins has played well on both ends of the court, helping his team to an undefeated record thus far. At just over 6′, Jenkins has shown his versatility on offense, connecting on contested jumpers as well as finishing at the rim. Jenkins handled the ball well and was instrumental for his team’s defensive intensity.

Amadou Sidibe ’12 Cardinal Hayes (NY): A teammate of Johnson and Jenkins, Sidibe’s highlight of the day was holding his own against fellow big man, Okerfor. Sidibe struggled offensively early on but was a presence under the boards. As the game progressed, Sidibe was able to score around the rim, including finishing possessions on fast-break run-outs.

Stanford Robinson ’13 Paul VI (VA): Robinson is as smooth a customer on the floor as they come in the camp. The 6’3 rising junior is a left-handed prospect, but coaches may have a difficult time pointing it out due to Robinson’s sharp ball-handling skills. Robinson has been at his best when breaking down his defender in few dribbles and attacking the rim with authority.

Jo-el Samuels ’13 Princeton Day Academy (MD): Samuels is easily one of the more athletic big men in camp. At 6’9, Samuels is a defensive-minded player, having the ability to block an opponents shot nearly anywhere around the basket. While Samuels’ offensive game is raw as of now, the rising junior’s pure athleticism shows promise of a great scorer. 

Jordan Reed ’12 Wissachicken (PA): On a team with top prospects such as Robinson and Jordan Dickerson, Reed may be the best overall scorer. At 6’3, Reed uses his strength to overpower defenders down low and finish at the rim. A smooth mid-range jumper adds a piece of the arsenal to Reed’s offensive game.