Thursday, August 27, 2009

Incoming: ACC reloads with stars

The ACC is reloading with top tier talent. The incoming freshman class boasts nine McDonald’s All-Americans, the most of all of the conferences. In the first of our conference preview of the newcomers, we break down the classes, the top players, the superlatives and much more.


1. Georgia Tech – Big time class led by big time player in Derrick Favors. Interior depth was addressed and point guard Mfon Udofia should play a major role early.

2. North Carolina – The Tar Heels have long term depth coming to Chapel Hill and one of the most intriguing prospects in the nation in John Henson.

3. Duke – Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee give the team size and versatility while Andre Dawkins could be a star sooner than later.

4. Clemson – Milton Jennings and Noel Johnson are starter-ready players that should help out considerably.

5. N.C. State – Richard Howell should see plenty of playing time because of his versatility. Scott Wood’s shooting will be a much needed facet to the team, too.

6. Miami – Guard Durand Scott has star potential for the ‘Canes while Garrius Adams could be the top incoming sleeper in the ACC.

7. Florida State – Don’t be surprised if Michael Snaer leads the ACC in scoring before he leaves college. The California kid can flat out score.

8. Wake Forest – Athletic wing Ari Stewart has star potential while local product C.J. Harris could develop into a solid four-year contributor.

9. Maryland – Jordan Williams and James Padgett are ideal Gary Williams power forwards. Williams is a skilled post while Padgett brings high-energy to the rotation.

10. Virginia – Tony Bennett will love the versatility of Tristan Spurlock and the speed and defense of point guard Jontel Evans.

11. Virginia Tech – Cadarian Raines has the tools to develop into a major contributor while the rest of the class adds to the backcourt depth.

12. Boston College - The Eagles did not sign a player in 2009.

Best perimeter scorer: Michael Snaer, Florida State
Best low post scorer: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech
Best passer: Richard Howell, NC State
Best shooter: Scott Wood, NC State
Best rebounder: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech
Best shot-blocker: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech
Best defender: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech
Most versatile: Glen Rice, Georgia Tech
Best basketball IQ: Ryan Kelly, Duke
Best pro prospect: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech
Best speed: Jontel Evans, Virginia
Best motor: Terrence Shannon, Florida State
Best strength: Devin Booker, Clemson
Best leaper: Ari Stewart, Wake Forest
Best toughness: Durand Scott, Miami
Best leader: Mfon Udofia, Georgia Tech
Impact player: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech
Biggest sleeper: Cadarian Raines, Virginia Tech
Sleeper class: Miami


1. Derrick Favors matters to Georgia Tech. No question about that. He’s the premiere player coming into the conference and the Jackets need a player to go to. But with Gani Lawal returning and Zach Peacock back for his senior season, Favors won’t have to be the go-to guy. Keep an eye on Mfon Udofia, the incoming point guard. He’s the one that will change the mindset of the team. His toughness, his approach, his leadership and his ability to run a team is what lacked from last year’s dismal season. Udofia will be the freshman that means the most to Georgia Tech this year.

2. North Carolina’s incoming freshman class is a lot like Duke recruiting classes that have doomed the Blue Devils of late. Sure, John Henson is a star. He’s a superstar in the making. His approach is like Kevin Durant’s and so is his upside. But outside of Henson, the cupboards are looking bare in the long term. Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald and the Wear twins – David and Travis – are all great four-year players. However, individually speaking, the new Tar Heels don’t have the star power that most UNC faithful are used to. This class won’t keep Roy Williams in the Final Four but with other classes, the team should remain in the hunt for conference titles.

3. Clemson’s class is overlooked in 2009. Both Noel Johnson and Milton Jennings will play large roles in the Tigers’ run back to the NCAA tournament. The duo fit the mold of player that has shined under the direction of Oliver Purnell. Don’t be surprised to see the two average double digit points as rookies. Devin Booker, the younger brother of senior star Trevor Booker, gives the frontline some muscle and toughness down low. Donte Hill, a versatile guard, will play a role during his career much like other guards have in the past for the Tigers.


Noel Johnson was all set to make the move across the country from Atlanta to Los Angeles to play for Tim Floyd at Southern Cal. Johnson, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard, was signed, sealed and ready to deliver for the Trojans.

Then came the O.J. Mayo scandal. Floyd was out and Johnson was looking for a new college home. Bye-bye tacos and hello smoked barbecue. Johnson is now headed to Clemson.

Duke was in desperate need of backcourt help in the 2009 recruiting class. And in June, the Blue Devils didn’t look like they would have the answers. That meant Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer would log big time minutes this season. The duo will still play all the time but they’ll have help.

Enter Andre Dawkins. Originally slotted for the class of 2010, the Virginia native finished his class work early much like Daniel Hackett did two summers ago to enroll at Southern Cal early. Dawkins gives Duke an athletic wing that can flat out shoot. The team’s backcourt needed that in a big way.


It seems like N.C. State has been searching for a solution at the point guard position since the turn of the century. Several players have assumed the role but few have been able to deliver results.

Wolfpack head coach Sidney Lowe was hoping to rely on the services of Lorenzo Brown, a 6-foot-4 scoring point guard from Roswell (Ga.) Centennial High School, this fall. Not so much. Brown failed to obtain the necessary scores to be admitted into N.C. State. Instead he will spend the 2009-2010 year at Hargrave Military Academy.

Brown’s loss is a huge blow to N.C. State not only this year but next year as well. Brown and fellow Georgian Ryan Harrow will join the team. Both are certainly talented enough but Lowe would certainly like some experience at the point instead of using two unproven ACC rookies.

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