Sunday, July 12, 2009

Very Early 2010-11 Preview: ACC

North Carolina: As usual, the real worry for North Carolina will not be graduations - the worry will be NBA defections. The seniors on their 2009-10 roster are Marcus Ginyard and Deon Thompson. Ginyard is probably the bigger loss, because his perimeter defense will be difficult to replace. Thompson is a quality player, but he can be replaced easily. A number of players will be potential NBA defections, however. If he gets a full healthy season, don't be surprised to see Tyler Zeller finally go. It's expected that Ed Davis will enter the 2010 NBA Draft, and I don't think too many people will be surprised to see star freshman John Henson leave after one season. Who does that leave for 2010-11?

Larry Drew should still be around, and will likely start at point guard in 2010-11. Will Graves, a 6'6" forward, is more of a question mark. He was suspended for almost all of the 2008-09 season for a vague reason that Roy Williams never really explained. As far as I know, it's still unknown if he'll play in 2009-10, but if he does I'd expect him back for 2010-11 as well. Guard Justin Watts only collected three minutes per game as a freshman in 2008-09, but he has the potential to eventually get big playing time. Of the 2009-10 freshmen, guard Dexter Strickland is the best prospect other than Henson. A real key could potentially be David and Travis Wear, both of whom are 6'10". North Carolina will have excellent size inside in 2009-10 with Deon Thompson, Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller and John Henson, but the possibility of all four being gone after the season will leave a huge gap inside that the Wears might have to fill. Roy Williams already has collected verbal commitments from two top flight recruits for 2010, but both are guards: Reggie Bullock (Scout: 2 SG, Rivals: 8) and Kendall Marshall (Scout: 5 PG, Rivals: 33). He's going to have to find some size if North Carolina is to be a top team in 2010-11. Right now North Carolina seems to be showing interest in 6'6" Harrison Barnes (#2 overall recruit according to, they're also involved with 6'8" CJ Leslie and 6'10" Josh Smith, both of whom are blue chippers. That said, I don't see how North Carolina doesn't have a major size problem unless Tyler Zeller or John Henson chooses to stay for another season.

Clemson: The Tigers had a busy offseason thus far with Terrence Oglesby heading to Europe, and then with Noel Johnson decommitting from USC and taking himself to Clemson. Johnson is unlikely to be a one-and-done player, so he should be a key player on the 2010-11 team. With no Clemson players likely to leave early for the 2010 NBA Draft, the only issue will be graduations. Trevor Booker will be the biggest graduation, in more ways than one. His inside presence will be impossible to replace. The other key graduation will be 6'6" forward David Potter.

A key player on the 2010-11 season will likely be guard Demontez Stitt. Stitt led the team in assists in 2008-09, although by 2010-11 the starting point guard could potentially be 5'9" Andre Young. Power forward Jerai Grant and guard Tanner Smith will also be key returners. Another player to keep an eye on is 6'6" Bryan Narcisse. Of the 2009-10 freshmen, Noel Johnson and Milton Jennings should both be key players right away. Johnson is a swing forward, and Jennings is a power forward. Small forward Donte Hill and power forward Devin Booker are also quality recruits - although it's possible that neither will play a big role as a freshman, don't be surprised to see both as key players on the 2010-11 squad. Of the 2010-11 recruits, they so far have verbal commitments from power forward Marcus Thornton (Rivals: 138) and Juco transfer Justin Johnson (a 6'5" small forward). Obviously Trevor Booker will be an impossible replacement, but Clemson will still be deep and talented in 2010-11, with quality at all five positions.

Maryland: Gary Williams has a quality team put together for 2009-10, probably his best in several seasons. But the Terps will likely take a pretty large step backwards for 2010-11. Greivis Vasquez graduates, as do Landon Millbourne and Eric Hayes. Those three represented the only double-digits scorers from Maryland's 2008-09 team, and will be a very tough loss. The key returners for 2010-11 will be guards Adrian Bowie and Sean Mosley, forwards Dino Gregory, Cliff Tucker, Jin-Soo Kim and Jerome Burnley, and the 2009 freshman class. That freshman class features two 6'8" forwards: Jordan Williams and James Padgett. Of the two, Williams is more likely to contribute right away. Of the verbal commitments for 2010, the key thus far is 6'5" guard Terrence Ross.

One thing that has to worry Maryland fans about this group is the lack of athleticism (at least by ACC standards), and the lack of a clear star. Adrian Bowie should be a double-digit scorer in 2010-11, but other than that I'm not sure who else will be good. Dino Gregory has potential, as does Sean Mosley. Jin-Soo Kim should be a solid sixth man, and he might even start, but it's hard to see him ever being one of the best players on an ACC team. Can this team get back to the NCAA Tournament? Maybe. But I think they'll need to sign another big recruit or two, or one of their current players needs to take a leap to become a lot better than they were in 2008-09.

Duke: The Blue Devils will lose quite a bit of their roster after the 2009-10 season, but not enough for me to think that they won't be better in 2010-11. The 2010 graduates will be Lance Thomas, Martynas Pocius, Jon Scheyer and Brian Zoubek. Kyle Singler would be a senior in 2010-11, but it's likely that he'll go to the NBA a year early. So who does that leave? At the guard position they'll have Nolan Smith, Tyler Thornton and Andre Dawkins (assuming Thornton and Dawkins stick with their verbal commitments for 2010). Seth Curry will also be able to play in 2010-11 after transferring in from Liberty. Both Curry and Dawkins are excellent shooters, and the question will be offensive creation. It's not clear if Curry will be athletic enough to be a quality point guard in the ACC, or if Nolan Smith will be good enough. At the forward position they'll return Miles Plumlee, Olek Czyz, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee, and Josh Hairston is a 2010 verbal commitment as well.

The question for Duke the past few years has been inside presences, and that will continue to be a question mark. In fact, Lance Thomas and Kyle Singler have probably been their best two inside players in several seasons (if you count Singler as an "inside" player... he's actually physically larger than Thomas, which is why I included him), and both will likely be gone after the 2009-10 season. Duke fans are high on the Plumlees, with Mason probably being the better prospect. Miles wasn't bad in very limited time in 2008-09, and it remains to be seen what type of player he'll turn into. I don't see much of a future for Czyz, although you don't want to completely write off a player after just one season. Ryan Kelly will be a freshman in 2009-10, and is actually a higher rated recruit than Mason Plumlee. Plumlee is more of a post player and should be the better rebounder, but Kelly is supposed to have a nice face-up jumper and could potentially be a good scorer. Joshua Hairston is a solid 2010 recruit (Scout: 10 PF, Rivals: 55), but at 6'8", 195 pounds, he's got some growing to do. Duke continues to be in the hunt for a bunch of other blue chip 2010 recruits, so don't be surprised to see another big signing or two before the 2010-11 season rolls around.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets don't lose much to graduation after the 2009-10 season, with 6'8" Zachery Peacock being the only member of the regular rotation who will go. But that doesn't mean Georgia Tech won't lose a lot, as Gani Lawal is expected to skip his senior season to enter the 2010 Draft, and superfrosh Derrick Favors is expected to be a one-and-done player. That said, Georgia Tech has built up a fairly athletic core, and many of those players will be back for 2010-11. Iman Shumpert was one of the best freshmen in the nation in 2008-09, and should be one of the best players in the ACC in 2010-11 (assuming he doesn't go pro). Lance Storrs, Maurice Miller and Nick Foreman will all be quality guards, as will 2009-10 freshmen Mfon Udofia and Glen Rice, Jr. Udona is expected to be a quality point guard who can lead the offense as a freshman, and could potentially be starting in the back court with Shumpert in 2010-11. Storrs, Miller, Foreman and Rice will all provide depth.

On the inside, 7-footer Brad Sheehan and Bassirou Dieng are decent prospects, as are 2009-10 freshmen Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey. Brian Oliver is a quality wing player who will also be a freshman in 2009-10. They so far have no commits for their 2010 class, but that should change soon. Paul Hewitt has been putting together quality recruiting class after quality recruiting class, and he's in the mix for a number of top 2010 players. Until we know exactly who they sign, it's too hard to predict exactly how good the Yellow Jackets will be in 2010-11, but don't be surprised to see another quality season from them.

Virginia: The Cavaliers don't lose all too much to graduation after the 2009-10 season. Calvin Baker is probably the most important loss, although Jamil Tucker and Jerome Meyinsse will also be in the regular rotation in 2009-10 and will graduate. The real question will be Sylven Landesberg, who was arguably one of the five best freshmen in the nation in 2008-09. Right now it's probably 50-50 whether he enters the 2010 NBA Draft. Landesberg wasn't the only good freshman on the team in 2008-09, as Sammy Zeglinski also played well, and will likely be the starting point guard in 2010-11. If Landesberg goes pro then I'd expect either Jeff Jones or Mamadi Diane to join Zeglinski in the backcourt in the starting lineup. Mustapha Farrakhan and Jontel Evans will provide depth at the guard position.

On the inside, the top Virginia returner for 2010-11 will likely be 6'8" Mike Scott, who is an excellent rebounder. 7-footer Assane Sene will also be a key returner. 6'11" John Brandenberg was a blue chip 2008 recruit, and despite not playing much in 2008-09 should be a decent prospect for the future. 2009 recruit Tristan Spurlock should be an excellent wing player, and I think he'll start at the 3-spot for Virginia in 2010-11. Virginia has also collected a verbal commitment from 6'8" post player, Will Regan. It remains to be seen who else Virginia will sign for that 2010 class, and obviously the Landesberg situation is up in the air, but Virginia has a great coach in Tony Bennett, and he will win a lot of games with whoever he's putting on the court. That said, even Bennett probably needs another recruit or two in order to make the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

Wake Forest: The Deamon Decons are going to lose a whole bunch of players from their 2009-10 squad. L.D. Williams, Ishmael Smith, Chas McFarland and David Weaver will all graduate. A question mark will be what Al-Farouq Aminu chooses to do, but I was honestly a bit surprised to see him even come back for the 2009-10 season, and I expect him to enter the 2010 NBA Draft, especially with so many of his teammates leaving. So who is left? Tony Woods was an excellent freshman in 2008-09 who was simply overshadowed by Aminu. If Aminu goes pro I wouldn't be surprised if Woods is the top player on Wake's 2010-11 team. Ty Walker was the third quality recruit from that 2008 class, and he could start in the front court with Woods in 2010-11.

Beyond those three players, the best returner for 2010-11 will probably be Ari Stewart, a skilled wing player who will be a freshman in 2009-10. Also keep an eye on freshman guard C.J. Harris. But the key for Wake Forest, especially if Aminu goes pro, will be the 2010 recruiting class, which does look very good. Of the verbal commits thus far, shooting guard J.T. Terrell and forwards Travis McKie and Melvin Tabb are all among the Top 100 recruits in the nation according to Point guard Tony Chennault is also a decent recruit. With so many players leaving, the only way Wake Forest will make the Tournament in 2011 will be if this recruiting class turns out to be stellar, or if Aminu chooses to come back for his junior season.

Boston College: 2009-10 could be a long season for Boston College, but basically everybody will be back for the 2010-11 season. Tyler Roche will be the only graduate. In fact, four starters from the 2008-09 squad will all be back for the 2010-11 season: guard Rakim Sanders, and forwards Joe Trapani, Corey Raji and Josh Southern. Expect Reggie Jackson, the top recruit from Boston College's 2008 class, to join Sanders in the back court to create a very solid starting lineup. The other key returners will be guards Biko Paris and Dallas Elmore, and forwards Cortney Dunn and Evan Ravenel. There are no big time recruits yet signed for the 2010 class, but that obviously could change. Boston College will be better in 2010-11 than in 2009-10, but the amount that they'll improve will be dependent on that 2010 recruiting class.

Virginia Tech: Lewis Witcher will likely be the only member of Virginia Tech's 2009-10 rotation who will graduate in 2010, so the main question for the Hokies will be whether Malcolm Delaney stays for his senior season or enters the 2010 NBA Draft. The other key returner for the back court will be shooting guard Dorenzo Hudson. The top freshman guard in 2009-10 will likely be Erik Green, who will need to have his development accelerated after the transfer out of point guard Hank Thorns.. In the front court, key returners will be Jeff Allen, Victor Davila, J.T. Thompson, Terrell Bell and Cadarian Raines. Allen is a quality player who will unquestionably start, but the rest of those players are all question marks, and it's impossible to tell at this early stage which of them will get to start. The only verbal commitment for 2010 at this point is Jarell Eddie, a very good wing recruit. If Malcolm Delaney does go pro then there will be a huge lack of talent and depth at the guard position, and the top recruiting priority for Seth Greenberg has got to be finding some guards for the 2010-11 season.

North Carolina State: NC State has been heading backwards for the last couple of seasons, and it's not obvious why things will turn around in 2010-11. Dennis Horner and Farnold Degand will both graduate from what will already be a weak rotation in 2009-10. The best back court returner will probably be Javier Gonzalez, although there are also high hopes for 2009-10 freshman Lorenzo Brown (assuming he qualifies academically to play, which as far as I know at this point is not a sure thing). Other key back court returners will be C.J. Williams, Julius Mays and Scott Wood. Key front court returners will be Tracy Smith, Johnny Thomas, Deshawn Painter and Richard Powell. None of those players are particularly good, with Tracy Smith being the only one I'd trust right now to be a decent ACC-quality starter in 2010-11. Their only oral commitment for 2010 is currently point guard Ryan Harrow (Scout: 8 PG, Rivals: 25). Another quality recruit or two could guarantee NC State a better 2010-11 season than 2009-10, but even that probably wouldn't make them a legitimate Tournament contender.

Florida State: The Seminoles are rebuilding in 2009-10, but they could still lose a few more key players before the 2010-11 season. Ryan Reid is the only regular who will be graduating, but both Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton could potentially go into the NBA. Alabi is considered a very likely lottery pick in the 2010 Draft, which means that he's probably gone, but there's a good chance that Singleton will stay. The other best returners in 2010-11 will be forward Jordan DeMercy and guards Derwin Kitchen and Michael Snaer. Other key returners will be guards Luke Loucks and Deividas Dulkys, and forwards Xavier Gibson and Terrence Shannon. The 2010-11 season will likely depend on the good 2010 recruiting class that Leonard Hamilton is putting together. The top verbal commitment is probably 6'8" slasher Okaro White, although Ian Miller is also considered one of the top point guards in the 2010 class. We will have a better idea of Florida State's 2010-11 chances when we see how their young players develop throughout 2009-10. It will also really help if they can avoid any NBA defections.

Miami (Fl): 2009-10 is a rebuilding season for the Hurricanes, and 2010-11 could be another one. Dwayne Collins, James Dews, Adrian Thomas, Cyrus McGowan all graduate, which guts almost the entire core of the 2009-10 team. The top returners on the 2010-11 team will likely be point guard Malcolm Grant, swing forward DeQuan Jones and shooting guard Durand Scott. Other key returners will be guards Eddie Rios, Garrius Adams and Antoine Allen, and forwards Julian Gamble and Donnavan Kirk. As of now they have no 2010 commitments, but you have to imagine that Frank Haith is going to sign a whole bunch of players, because as of now their 2010-11 roster is looking very thin.

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