In what looks to be an exciting ACC year, UNC appears to be the clear favorite with Duke close behind at number 2. After them is a logjam of teams with potential to crack the top 3. With a huge influx of talent from the class of 2006 and very few early departures it is shaping up to be a wild and competitive year in the conference.
For each team I am going to provide the key returnees with their ACC stats and how many ACC games they started, the newcomers and their RamblinRed Consensus ranking and a listing of the key personnel losses. If a player totaled less than 100 minutes in ACC games or played in fewer than 8 of them then I will provide ACC season stats as they might give a better picture of what the player may contribute with increased playing time.
I have also included ACC minutes returning and what percentage of those minutes each class played in 2005 and ACC schedules with a derived ACC SoS (and in parentheses how many games against each tier vs. how many are possible). To create the SoS, I divided the ACC into 3 tiers based largely on pre-season predictions. Tier 1 is UNC, Duke and BC. Tier 3 is Miami, Wake Forest and NC State. All the others are in Tier 2. SoS was calculated as 3 times each game against Tier 1, 2 times each game against Tier 2 and 1 time each game against Tier 3. Note that by definition, you would expect lower tier teams to have more difficult ACC schedules so it is best to compare SoS within a tier.
I will also give a preview on each club and some key questions for each team. With all that being said, let's begin!
Sr. Jared Dudley, 6'7, 225 F – 17.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 38.1 mpg, 34.7% 3FG%, 16 ACC starts
Sr. Sean Marshall 6'6, 212 G/F – 9.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 27.1 mpg, 30.4% 3FG, 16 ACC starts
So. Tyrese Rice 6', 190 G – 8.1 ppg, 2.4 apg 1:1 A:TO, 20.4 mpg, 36.8% 3FG, 0 ACC starts
Jr. Sean Williams 6'10, 235 C – 2.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 17.3 mpg, 0 ACC starts
So. Marquez Haynes 6'3, 185 G – 8-24 FG, 4-10 3FG, 6-10 FT, 6 rb, 7 as, 98 min (13 ACC games)
Jr. John Oates 6'10, 255 C – 2.7 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 11.5 mpg, 16 ACC starts
Jr. Akida McLain 6'8, 220 F – 3.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 12.8 mpg, 16 ACC games
ACC % Min returning - 65.1%,
ACC % Min played by class 2005 - FR 13%, SO 20%, JR 32%, SR 35%
Fr. Daye Kaba 6'4, 200 G – Top 150+
Fr. Tyler Roche 6'7, 208 F – Top 150+
Fr. Shamari Spears 6'6, 245 F – T150
R-So. Tyrelle Blair 6'11, 240 – 5.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 22.0 mpg as SO at Loyola-Chicago
Craig Smith F - 17.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 37.1 mpg , 16 ACC starts
Louis Hinnant G – 7.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.4 apg, 2:1 A:TO, 16 ACC starts
ACC Schedule, ACC SoS 31 (3/4, 9/12, 4/6)
Double – Clem, Duke, FSU, Miami, VT
Home – MD, UNC, UVA
Away – GT, NCSU, WF
BC Comes into 2006 looking to show that its strong first year in the ACC was no fluke. In order to reach the same heights it will need some players to reach new heights to replace two key contributors from last year.
This year's team should be very strong on the frontline led by 2nd Team All-ACC Jared Dudley. Dudley has trimmed down for his SR year in a bid to improve upon his already strong 2005 performance. He could play either forward position depending upon lineup and will be counted on to be the leading scorer and leader of this team. Also at PF you have returning backup Akida McClain and freshmen Shamari Spears. McLain is an athletic four man while Spears is cut from the Craig Smith mold – though he is unlikely to be as spectacular as a freshman as Smith was. Sean Williams is likely to be the starting center. Williams is arguably the most dangerous shot blocking big man in the conference. A big, athletic center who patrols the lane. Any improvement in offense would be helpful to a team that has to replace Craig Smith. Backing up Williams is returning big man John Oates and Loyola-Chicago transfer Tyrell Blair. BC likely has one of the tallest, biggest interior teams in the conference. Dudley, as mentioned, could see a lot of time at SF. When he is not there expect SR Sean Marshall, a dangerous shooter or FR Tyler Roche to fill in.
If there are any questions on this BC squad it might be in the backcourt where depth could become a real issue. Tyrese Rice will slide over from SG and become a full time PG this year. He is replacing the steady Louis Hinnant. Rice showed excellent scoring ability but his 1:1 assist to TO ratio is somewhat worrisome for someone who will be expected to carry the ballhandling load. Marshall could start at SG or SF and when he is not at SG expect to see Marquez Haynes. Haynes is a very athletic two man with the potential to score off drives or from deep. Providing depth in the backcourt will be FR Daye Kaba, who if nothing else gives them some nice size on the perimeter.
Will Rice be able to handle the PG position? This is probably the most important question for BC. If he does well then BC should be a very strong team. If Rice struggles than this team lacks players that can create their own scoring.
Who will replace Craig Smith in the post? The likely answer is no one. BC will attempt to replace Smith by committee likely using 3 different players at PF depending upon lineup. Replacing his rebounding is very important.
What affect will the coaching changes have? BC's staff went under a major change this summer as two assistants became HC's after being together for years. How long will it take the new coaching staff to gel and will it negatively impact the team in the short term as coaching changes sometimes do?
Sr. Vernon Hamilton 6', 195 G – 12.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 32.9 mpg, 32.4% 3FG, 15 ACC games 10 starts
Jr. Cliff Hammonds 6'3, 197 G – 10.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 2:1 A:TO, 32.4 mpg, 16 ACC starts
So. KC Rivers 6'5, 210 G/F – 7.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 25.1 mpg, 34.8% 3FG , 16 ACC games 7 starts
So Julius Powell 6'7, 208 F – 6.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 17.8 mpg, 30.2% 3FG, 16 ACC games 8 starts
Jr. James Mays 6'9, 225 F/C – 9.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg 1.5 bpg, 24 mpg (non-ACC before ineligible), started all 11 games he played
Jr. Sam Perry 6'5, 208 F – 5.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 20.4 mpg, 16 ACC games 9 starts
So. Ray Sykes 6'9, 205 F – 5-11 FG, 2-5 FT, 17 rb, 108 min (14 ACC games 4 starts)
ACC % Min returning - 64.2%
ACC % Min played by class 2005 - FR 25%, SO 25%, JR 15%, SR 35%
Fr. David Potter 6'6, 180 F – Top 150
Fr. Trevor Booker 6'7, 215 F – Top 150+
Fr. AJ Tyler 6'9, 225 F – Top 150+
Fr. Karolis Petrokunis 6'11, 260 C – Top 150+
Shawan Robinson G – 13.8 ppg, 2.7 apg, 28.5 mpg, 35.6% 3FG, 8 ACC starts
Akin Akinbala F/C – 13.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 30.4 mpg, 16 ACC starts
ACC Schedule, ACC SoS 34 (5/6, 8/10, 3/6)
Double – BC, Duke, FSU, GT, MD
Home – UNC, UVA, Miami
Away – NCSU, VT, WF
After a solid year last year Clemson will try to build on it and finally break back through to the NCAA Tourney. A lot will be resting on the shoulders of James Mays who missed all of the ACC season last year due to academics. Mays is a very athletic post player who works well in Clemson's pressure defense. He will be needed to replace the production lost with Akinbala's graduation. Coach Purnell will have a number of options to surround Mays. When he is at PF Clemson can try to use big FR Petrokunis to fill the middle. At PF you will likely see a combination of SO Ray Sykes who got a little time as a FR, SO Julius Powell who had a solid rookie campaign, go smaller with athletic Sam Perry or try FR Booker. At SF I expect KC Rivers to start after a solid rookie year. Clemson needs Rivers to be a dangerous shooting threat. SF could also see Perry, Powell and FR David Potter getting time.
Clemson returns an experienced backcourt. At PG, Vernon Hamilton returns for his SR yr. He is not a strong shooter but is very quick and good at penetrating or being a pest with fast hands on defense. His running mate is versatile JR Cliff Hammonds. Hammonds is also a streaky shooter but a fine defender and good scorer off of penetration. There is not a lot of depth behind Hamilton and Hammonds and Clemson will likely try to keep one on the floor at all times.
Will Clemson be able to shoot straight? Clemson was one of the worst squads last year in 3 FG % and FT %. They really lack strong shooters and that could come to hurt them as teams try to prevent penetration by the guards.
Will Hamilton and Hammonds wear down? Hamilton and Hammonds will have to play a lot of minutes. They are both quality starters but will they wear down late in the season?
How will the schedule affect the team? Clemson has a very tough ACC schedule with 5 games against the top tier and only 3 against the bottom. It may be difficult to improve on last season's mark with a more difficult schedule.
So. Greg Paulus 6'1, 180 G – 5.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.4:1 A:TO, 33.1 mpg 22.6% 3FG, 16 ACC starts
So Josh McRoberts 6'10, 240 F/C – 7.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 23.1 mpg, 4-6 3FG, 14 ACC starts
Jr. Demarcus Nelson 6'4, 200 G/F – 7.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 21.7 mpg, 42.4% 3FG, 13 ACC games 1 start
So. Jamal Boykin 6'7, 230 F – 1-3 FG, 5 rb, 15 min (13 ACC games)
So. Martynas Pocius 6'5, 185 G – 3-7 FG, 0-3 3FG, 38 min (13 ACC games)
R-So. David McClure 6'6, 200 F – 1.1 ppg, 0.3 rpg – ACC 2 yrs ago (injury redshirt)
ACC % Min returning - 38.9%
ACC % Min played by class 2005 - FR 30%, SO 9%, JR 0%, SR 61%
Fr. Gerald Henderson 6'4, 215 G/F – Top 25, McD AA
Fr. Lance Thomas 6'8, 215 F – Top 25, McD AA
Fr. Jon Sheyer 6'5, 180 G – Top 25, McD AA
Fr. Brian Zoubek 7'1, 250 C – Top 25
JJ Reddick G – 29.4 ppg, 3.1 apg, 38.1 mpg, 39.1% 3FG, 16 ACC starts
Sheldon Williams F/C – 19.6 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 4.3 bpg, 33.4 mpg, 16 ACC starts
Sean Dockery G – 8.5 ppg, 2.4 apg, 30.3 mpg, 58.7% 3FG, 15 ACC starts
Lee Melchionni F – 5.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 21.0 mpg, 38.9% 3FG, 16 ACC appearances 2 starts
ACC Schedule, ACC SoS 33 (4/4, 9/12, 3/6)
Double – BC, Clem, GT, MD, UNC
Home – FSU, VT, WF
Away – Miami, NCSU, UVA
Perennial power Duke will look to reload this year around 2 returning All Rookie team members and a very strong recruiting class. Will Duke be able to overcome youth and find new leadership and scoring – it is usually unwise to bet against Coach K.
Expected to share a large role in the scoring will be All-ACC Rookie Josh McRoberts. After deferring to teammates last year expect Duke to build a lot of its offensive attack around his myriad of skills. He will likely see time at both center and PF. When he is at center then FR McD AA Lance Thomas will likely be manning the PF spot. Thomas is a very hard working, athletic garbage man type player. Not a great shooter, but he will clean the glass and score close in to the basket. At C you can also expect to see FR Brian Zoubek, a huge prototypical center. Skilled around the basket, Zoubek is best suited to a half style game where he can use his offensive skills and size. Beyond those 2 R-SO David McClure or seldom-used SO Jamal Boykin could also see minutes as undersized PF. At the SF spot Duke is likely to use electrifying McDAA Gerald Henderson. Henderson is already college ready build wise and is an incredible athlete whose outside shot improved markedly his senior year. He could vie with McRoberts for top scoring honors. McClure could see minutes at SF as could "old man" JR DeMarcus Nelson. After injuries his first two years Nelson is hoping to stay healthy and show why he was a McD AA in HS.
All-Rookie SO Greg Paulus will lead the backcourt. He will be expected to be the leader of the team and get the ball to players in scoring position. He also needs to show improvement in his own shot. Paulus is currently out with a foot injury and Duke desperately needs him to regain full health, as he is the only true PG on the roster. Also in the backcourt will be McD AA Jon Sheyer. Sheyer is the long-term replacement for JJ Reddick, a good outside shooter who is better out of HS than JJ at scoring off the dribble. While Paulus is out Sheyer is expected to carry PG duties. Also in the backcourt you could see Nelson, Henderson or seldom-used SO Martynas Pocius – who had a reputation as a good shooter in HS but hasn't shown it yet in college.
How serious is Paulus' injury? This is a big question and one that Coach K hasn't answered yet. Paulus is expected to be the team leader and primary ball handler. If his injury takes longer to heal or is reoccurring it will impact Duke's ability to provide and withstand pressure.
Will there be strong leadership? Good teams have great leaders. Are the returning three of Nelson, Paulus and McRoberts ready to lead this squad to a 10th straight Sweet Sixteen?
Will the freshmen live up to expectations? With such a young team (only 39% of ACC minutes return) the FR have to play to their HS accolades or Duke will struggle. If the FR come through this can be a Sweet Sixteen team again.
Sr. Al Thornton 6'8, 220 F – 18.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 32.1 mpg, 11-24 3FG, 16 ACC starts
Jr. Jason Rich 6'3, 200 G – 9.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 28.7 mpg, 3-18 3FG, 16 ACC starts
Jr. Isiah Swann 6'1, 203 G – 8.1 ppg, 3.2 apg, 22.4 mpg, 31.9% 3FG, 16 ACC starts
Sr. Jerel Allen 6'4, 192 G – 3.1 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 12.3 mpg, 8-18 3FG, 16 ACC games
Jr. Ralph Mims 6'2, 210 G – 3.2 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 11.0 mpg, 1-9 3FG, 16 ACC games
So. Uche Echefu 6'9, 220 F – 11-21 FG, 3-6 3FG, 6-10 FT, 15 rb, 74 min (15 ACC games)
So. Casaan Breeden 6'8, 200 F – 5-16 FG, 1-6 3FG, 5 rb, 30 min (8 ACC games)
ACC % Min returning - 56.9%
ACC % Min played by class 2005 - FR 6%, SO 30%, JR 32%, SR 32%
R-So. Tony Douglas 6'1, 196 G – 14.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 36.4 mpg, 40.2% 3FG (SEC conf. 04-05)
Fr. Josue Soto 6', 165 G – Top 100
Fr. Aaron Holmes 6'5, 180 G – Top 125
Fr. Ryan Reid 6'8, 232 F – Top 100 (2005)
Losses (season stats)
Todd Galloway G – 7.8 ppg, 3.3 apg, 28.5 mpg, 41.4% 3FG, 16 ACC starts
Andrew Wilson F – 6.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 19.0 mpg, 51.3% 3FG, 16 ACC games
Diego Romero C – 4.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 16.2 mpg, 8-16 3FG, 16 ACC games
ACC Schedule, ACC SoS 32 (4/6, 8/10, 4/6)
Double – BC, Clem, GT, MD, Miami
Home – Duke, NCSU, UVA
Away – UNC, VT, WF
After getting snubbed by the NCAA a year ago FSU will be on a mission to make the dance this year. If they can find help in the post they have the perimeter game and a league star that could take them a long way.
With the early departure of Alexander Johnson and the Jon Kreft being released from his scholarship FSU has questions in the post. The likely early season starter will be SO Uche Echefu. Highly regarded out of HS he played sparingly as a FR, but will have to make huge strides as a SO to help this team. Echefu had back surgery in the offseason but is reportedly 100%. Backing up Echefu will be FR Ryan Reid. Reid is from the same class as Echefu but did not qualify last year. He is thicker but less athletic. FSU hopes those two can provide solid rebounding and defense in the post. FSU is likely to go with a 3 guard, 1 wing, 1 post lineup and at PF will be 2nd team All ACC Al Thornton. Thornton is willing to bang in the post but athletic enough to play on the perimeter. He is one of the more complete players in the ACC and will figure into PoY consideration. Backing up Thornton at PF is another tweener in Casaan Breeden. Breeden played a handful of minutes last year but needs to step up his game as a SO. He is more comfortable on the perimeter than in he paint but FSU needs his size down low.
FSU has a lot of talent on the perimeter to use in a likely 3-guard lineup. Two returning starters, Isiah Swann and Jason Rich, will likely man the SG and SF spots. Rich is a solid size guard who is FSU's best defender and a solid scoring option. Swann is an electrifying athlete who can play both guard spots. Both need to be more consistent and improve their outside shots. The likely starter at PG is former Auburn standout Tony Douglas. Douglas is a superior scorer and shooter who FSU will need to play more of a PG role this year. Backing up the perimeter starters will be returning guards Ralph Mims, a solid combo guard, and SR Jerel Allen, a dangerous shooter. FSU also has the services of FR Josue Soto at PG and Aaron Holmes as a shooter.
Can Tony Douglas play PG? There is no doubt Douglas can score points in bunches, but for FSU to be ultimately successful they need Douglas to handle the ball and get others involved as well. His ability to play more like a PG than a SG may determine whether this team makes the NCAA.
Will the post players hold up? FSU really only has 2 post players – Echefu and Reid and neither have much experience. How both perform against ACC competition will go along way to whether FSU makes the Dance.
How good can Al Thornton be? Likely very good, maybe ACC PoY good. Thornton has shown the ability to single-handedly take over games. There will likely be times this year that FSU needs that and Al needs to deliver in those cases.
Jr. Anthony Morrow 6'5, 206 G/F – 15.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 32.4 mpg, 42.2% 3FG, 16 ACC starts
Jr. RaSean Dickey 6'9, 250 F/C – 13.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 29.4 mpg, 16 ACC games 13 starts
Jr. Jeremis Smith 6'6, 232 F – 9.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 27,6 mpg, 16 ACC games 11 starts
So. Lewis Clinch 6'3, 199 G – 9.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 24.9 mpg, 50.9% 3FG, 16 ACC games 7 starts
R-Sr. Mario West 6'4, 215 G – 3.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.3:1 A:TO, 19.5 mpg, 13 ACC games 8 starts
So. D'andre Bell 6'5, 209 G/F – 3.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 18.3 mpg, 4-13 3FG, 16 ACC games 8 starts
So Alade Aminu 6'9, 222 F – 7-12 FG, 3-4 FT, 8 rb, 79 min (12 ACC games)
ACC % Min returning - 77.1%
ACC % Min played by class 2005 - FR 25%, SO 59%, JR 8%, SR 8%
Fr. Thad Young 6'8, 215 F – Top 10, McD AA
Fr. Javaris Crittenton 6'4, 198 G – Top 25, McD AA
Fr. Zach Peacock 6'7, 235 F – Top 150
Fr. Brad Sheehan 6'10, 223 C – Top 150+
R-Fr. Mouhamad Faye 6'8, 205 F – Not Rated, from Senegal
Zam Fredrick G – 11.1 ppg, 3.8 apg, 1.2:1 A:TO, 29.2 mpg, 16 ACC games 9 starts
Theo Tarver C – 2.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 17.1 mpg, 16 ACC games 8 starts
ACC Schedule, ACC SoS 33 (5/6, 7/10, 4/6)
Double – Clem, Duke, FSU, UNC, WF
Home – BC, NCSU, VT
Away – MD, Miami, UVA
After a miserable year where they struggled late in games, losing 4 ACC games by 7 points and two OOC road games by 4 pts, GT hopes to parlay its youth (83% of its minutes FR and SO – UVA #2 at 61%) and another influx of young talent into a big turnaround. GT's squad looks deep and talented on paper, will having the return of 6 players who started at least 6 ACC games each help them overcome late game breakdowns that marred last season.
In the frontcourt GT will start JR Ra'Sean Dickey at C. After being benched in early January he seemed to find his spark and played very well offensively after regaining his starters spot, scoring in doubles figures his last 13 games and leading the ACC in FG% in ACC games. He does need to improve his focus and intensity on defense. Backing up Dickey will likely be SO Alade Aminu. After getting limited minutes as a FR and showing promise his last couple of games he has added weight and hopes to be a bigger factor as a SO. At PF will be undersized but hard working Jeremis Smith. Smith played the last 2 months with a bad back. He's hoping that a return to health and improved conditioning will allow him to play like the double-double machine of December and early Jan. GT will have a couple of options to back up Smith. FR Zach Peacock has been impressive in early practices using his college ready body. McD AA Thad Young could see minutes at PF as could X-factor R-FR Mouhammad Faye. At SF McD AA Thad Young will be the starter and a matchup nightmare for most teams. At 6'8 and a 7'1 wingspan he has the athleticism and game to score inside but the ability to go outside on the perimeter as well. Also at both F spots you are likely to see R-FR Mouhammad Faye. This athletic 6'9 Senegal native with the 7'3 wingspan is well ahead of schedule after breaking his wrist this summer, looking impressive in GT's first scrimmage hitting 3's and blocking shots. GT can also call upon 6'6 SO Paco Diaw, 6'5 JR Anthony Morrow and 6'5 SO D'Andre Bell to play minutes at SF if necessary.
In the backcourt the reins will be turned over to local McD AA Javaris Crittenton. Crittenton is in the mold of guards that Coach Hewitt loves – a big, athletic guy who can get up and down the court and play tough defense. He is not a strong outside shooter but is hard to keep out of the lane. A very good passer, he needs to be a good decision maker. The primary backup at PG appears to be D'Andre Bell who has upgraded his ballhandling and looked solid in practices so far. Also, R-SR Mario West, GT's perimeter defensive ace, can also play minutes at PG after starting the last 8 ACC Games at PG last year. At SG is a real battle between JR ACC HM Anthony Morrow, GT leading scorer last year and the leading returning 3FG% player in the league. He is fighting for a starting spot with SO Lewis Clinch who came on late last year after overcoming a stress fracture in his leg as a FR. Clinch is better off the dribble and as a defender. Both will see a lot of minutes.
Will this team play defense? Last year's GT squad was by far the worst defensive squad GT has had under Coach Hewitt. They have the length, athleticism and depth to return to the style of the last few years, are the players willing to play with the intensity the staff wants?
Does GT have better ballhandling and decision making? Last year's squad was the best shooting squad at GT under Hewitt, but 18 TO a game and poor decision making combined with spotty defense caused a lot of late game losses. Will this team take care of the ball and make good decisions to turn those tough losses to wins?
Who will lead this team? While this teams returns most of its talent, it is still a young team with only 1 SR. Who will step up to make sure everyone plays their assignments and coalesces as a unit? Mario West and Jeremis Smith seem to be the types that could.
Sr. Mike Jones 6'5, 204 G – 11.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 25.6 mpg, 38.4% 3FG, 16 ACC games 11 starts
Sr. DJ Strawberry 6'5, 201 G/F – 10.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg. 3.4 apg, 33.5 mpg, 28.6% 3FG, 16 ACC starts
Sr. Ekene Ibekwe 6'9, 220 F – 10.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 24.2 mpg, 16 ACC games 14 starts
Jr. James Gist 6'8, 223 F – 8.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 24.4 mpg, 16 ACC games 11 starts
Sr. Parrish Brown 6'1, 175 G – 5-10 FG, 1-3 3FG, 17-20 FT, 10 rb, 25 as (1:1 a:TO), 102 min (14 ACC games)
Sr. Will Bowers 7'1, 262 C – 1.8 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 9.6 mpg, 16 ACC games 1 start
ACC % Min returning - 61.6%
ACC % Min played by class 2005 - FR 0%, SO 12%, JR 49%, SR 39%
Jr. Bombale Osby 6'8, 250 F – JUCO transfer Top 150 Juco
Fr. Grievas Vasquez 6'5, 195 G – Top 75
Fr. Eric Hayes 6'3, 175 G - Top 100
Fr. Landon Milbourne 6'7, 205 F - Top 125
Fr. Jerome Burney Jr. 6'9, 210 F/C – Top 150+
Nik Caner-Medley F – 16.3 ppg, 6.3 apg, 35.1 mpg, 34.2% 3FG, 16 ACC starts
Chris McCray G – 12.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 31.8 mpg, 36.4% 3FG, 5 ACC starts (before academically ineligible)
Travis Garrison F – 5.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 17.2 mpg, 15 ACC games 4 starts
Sterling Ledbetter G – 2.5 ppg, 2.2 apg, 1.3:1 A:TO, 16.4 mpg, 16 ACC games 4 starts
ACC Schedule, ACC SoS 32 (4/6, 8/10, 4/6)
Double – Clem, Duke, FSU, NCSU, UVA
Home – GT, Miami, UNC
Away – BC, VT, WF
After being passed over for the NCAA Tourney for the 2nd consecutive year Maryland looks to rebound with a senior oriented team to make it back to where they once were regulars. If they can get good leadership from the underclassmen and solid play from a couple of freshmen they will have a chance.
Maryland is likely to field an experienced frontcourt with a wealth of upperclassmen to fill spots. At C they are likely to start athletic SR Ebene Ibekwe who returned for his SR year after testing the NBA draft waters. Ibekwe is an athletic post player who is not a great shooter but uses his athleticism to score and grab rebounds. He will be backed up by SR center Will Bowers, an old-school back to the basket big man and shot blocking FR Jerome Burney, who his out with an injury right now. Neither will score much but will look to rebound and defend. At PF will be JR James Gist, another athletic post player who scores mainly using his athleticism. He looked like he might have a breakout year as a SO but then seemed to plateau as the season wore on. Backing up Gist will be JUCO Bombale Osby who had an uninspiring SO year at JUCO but whom the staff hopes can rebound and defend. At SF will be SR DJ Strawberry who will get to play his more natural position than last year's PG. Strawberry is a great defender and tough all around player who only lacks a solid jumpshot. Behind Strawberry is FR Landon Milbourne. Milbourne is a big, athletic wing that needs time to refine his skill set for college.
In the backcourt the SG position will likely SR Mike Jones. This former McD AA gets one last shot to show what he has. Jones has a beautiful jumpshot and is capable of putting up big numbers, but sometimes doesn't use his athleticism to his advantage and is just an average ballhandler and a decent defender. Maryland needs one of its FR to step up at PG if it is to be successful this year and Eric Hayes will likely get the first crack at it. This tall but thin PG is seen as being in the Steve Blake mold and the hope is he can provide steady ballhandling. Also at guard is exciting FR Grievis Vasquez, a flashy player who can both handle the ball and shoot it. He will likely see time at both guard spots. Maryland also has the services of SR Parrish Brown to backup the PG spot.
Who will play PG? PG is the biggest question on this team of veterans. If Hayes or Vasquez can play well as FR then it will go a long ways toward getting back to the NCAA.
Will the seniors lead? One of the issues the last couple of years has been a lack of chemistry and leadership. With 3 likely SR starters, will they step up and create strong team chemistry?
Will the bench be sufficient? This team looks solid in its starting 5 but is relying a lot on FR or little used veterans to play backup roles. They need enough solid minutes from those players to keep the starters fresh.