RamblinRed's ACC Preview 2006-2007: Part 2

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.

Continuing our look at the ACC, here is part II of the previews.

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!

 

Miami

Returnees

Sr. Anthony Harris 6'2, 187 G – 10.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1:1 A:TO, 29.1 mpg, 34.5% 3FG, 16 ACC starts

Sr. Anthony King 6'9, 242 F/C – 8.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 28.3 mpg, 16 ACC starts

So. Denis Clemente 6', 178 G – 4.3 ppg, 1.3 apg, 1:1 A:TO, 16.1 mpg, 15.4% 3FG, 16 ACC games

Jr. Ray Hicks 6'7, 238 F – 4.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 16.4 mpg, 16 ACC appearances

So. Jimmy Graham 6'8, 245 F – 7-23 FG, 2-5 FT, 30 rb, 141 min (16 ACC games 1 start)

So. Brian Asbury 6'7, 214 F – 2-24 FG, 0-8 3FG, 4-6 FT, 21 rb, 115 min (16 ACC games)

So. Adrian Thomas 6'7, 223 F – 3-7 FG, 6-10 FT, 8 rb, 37 min (10 ACC games)

ACC % Min returning - 53.0%

ACC % Min played by class 2005 - FR 17%, SO 8%, JR 46%, SR 29%

 

Newcomers

R-So. Jack McClinton 6'1, 185 G – 13.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.7 apg (as Fr. At Sienna)

Fr. James Dews 6'3, 198 G – Top 100

Fr. Dwayne Collins 6'8, 232 G – Top 100

Fr. Lawrence Gilbert 6'7, 201 F – Top 125

Jr. Fabio Nass 6'11, 202 C – JUCO Top 200, 3.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg

 

Losses

Guillermo Diaz G – 18.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.6:1 A:TO, 36.5 mpg, 34.9% 3FG, 16 ACC starts

Robert Hite G – 17.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 35.2 mpg, 42.3% 3FG, 16 ACC starts

Gary Hamilton C – 3.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 24.5 mpg, 16 ACC games 15 starts

 

ACC Schedule, ACC SoS 33 (4/6, 9/12, 3/4)

Double – BC, FSU, UVA, VT, WF

Home – Duke, GT, NCSU

Away – Clem, MD, UNC

 

Preview

After losing 2/3 of its high scoring 3-guard offense Miami will look to re-tool into a more traditional team. In order to make noise in the ACC Miami needs its SO class to step up big time and get contributions from some new players.

Miami will be anchored in the frontcourt by SR Anthony King. King had a solid, but somewhat disappointing JR year. He will be called on to once again close down the middle and become more of an offensive factor in the post. Joining him starting in the post will likely be one of either JR Ray Hicks or SO Jimmy Graham. Hicks received significant playing time last year and at times looked like a solid player with a nice scoring touch. Graham provides a big, athletic body but was wildly inconsistent as a FR. Challenging both Graham and Hicks and likely also backing up King is well regarded FR Dwayne Collins. Collins is a Miami native who is a great athlete with a 7'1 wingspan. He can rebound and block shots and score a little. He needs to be more consistent in effort. Also available is JUCO transfer Fabio Nass. Nass is reported to have a pretty jumper but is very thin and put up unimpressive numbers as a JUCO. At SF Miami appears to be going back to more of a true wing with either SO Brian Ashbury or FR Lawrence Gilbert being the likely pick. Asbury had a disappointing FR year where it appeared he lost confidence in his game. Miami is hoping he finds it as a SO. Gilbert was a sleeper who moved from LA to Houston after Hurricane Katrina. He is a very athletic jack of all trades who may be the long term answer at SF. Miami also had combo forward DO Adrian Thomas to back up both forward spots.

In the backcourt it appears most of the time will be split between three players. The two returning backcourt players are SR Anthony Harris and SO Denis Clemente. Harris was hurt early in the season, allowing Clememte to get some starts at PG, and never seemed to find his game completely. This year Harris is likely to be employed as much as SG as PG. Harris is a good ballhandler and a solid shooter. Clemente should see his time at PG increase after a solid rookie year. Clemente is small but jet quick and an excellent passer. He needs to improve his shooting. Also in the rotation will be Sienna transfer Jack McClinton. McClinton is a tough nosed kid who had a big freshmen year at Siena before transferring to a major conference. He will be expected to come in and provide the kind of scoring and rebounding he showed at Sienna. The likely fourth player in the guard rotation will be FR James Dews. Dews has a reputation as a great outside shooter, which this team can use after losing Hite and Diaz last year.

Questions

Will Miami be successful running a more traditional lineup? After a couple of years of a high powered 3-guard lineup Miami is planning on running a more traditional attack. Can King and someone else step up inside to make it work?

Who will play on the wing? To be successful Miami needs someone to step up at the three. Gilbert and Asbury are expected to step up, are they ready?

Will the Sophomore class rebound? The current sophomores were highly regarded but failed to live up to expectations as FR. For this team to make noise its SO class must make major strides.

 

North Carolina

Returnees

So. Tyler Hansbrough 6'9, 245 F/C – 20.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 31.0 mpg, 16 ACC games 15 starts

Sr. Reyshawn Terry 6'8, 232 F – 15.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 25.5 mpg, 42.6% 3FG, 16 ACC games 15 starts

So. Bobby Frasor 6'3, 208 G – 6.9 ppg, 4.3 apg, 1.6:1 A:TO, 28.1 mpg, 33.3% 3FG, 16 ACC starts

Sr. Wes Miller 5'11, 190 G – 6.8 ppg, 2.5 apg, 2.9:1 A:TO, 25.1 mpg, 42.3% 3FG, 16 ACC games 11 starts

So. Danny Green 6'5, 210 G/F – 6.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 14.6 mpg, 39.5% 3FG, 16 ACC games

 So. Marcus Ginyard 6'5, 218 G/F – 5.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 16.6 mpg, 36.8% 3FG, 16 ACC games 4 starts

Jr. Quentin Thomas 6'3, 185 PG – 2.4 ppg, 2.4 apg, 1.9:1 A:TO, 10.4 mpg, 0-3 3FG, 16 ACC games

So. Mike Copeland 6'7, 225 F – 5-6 FG, 1-4 FT, 9 rb, 21 min (8 ACC games)

ACC % Min returning - 79.8%

ACC % Min played by class 2005 - FR 46%, SO 6%, JR 25%, SR 23%

 

Newcomers

Fr. Brandon Wright 6'9, 205 F – Top 10. McD AA

Fr. Tywon Lawson 5'11, 193 G - Top 10, McD AA

Fr. Wayne Ellington 6'4, 195 G – Top 10, McD AA

Fr. Alex Stepheson 6'9, 225 F/C – Top 40

Fr. Deon Thompson 6'8, 245 F/C – Top 40

Fr. William Graves 6'6, 260 F – Top 75

 

Losses

David Noel F – 12.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3.7 apg, 33.1 mpg, 16 ACC starts

Byron Sanders F/C – 2.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 12.4 mpg, 16 ACC games

 

ACC Schedule, ACC SoS 30 (3/4, 8/12, 5/6)

Double – Duke, GT, NCSU, VT, WF

Home – FSU, Miami, UVA

Away – BC, Clem, MD

 

Preview

After a strong rebuilding year last year UNC looks like the prohibitive favorite in the ACC and a possible national title contender. Just 2 years after his first National Championship is Coach Williams ready to take this young but immensely talented squad to another Final Four?

No team in the ACC is as deep as UNC and it starts in the frontcourt. Returning after a fabulous FR campaign is 1st All ACC center Tyler Hansbrough. Hansbrough plays with a motor and intelligence that is matched by few. He has a variety of moves in the post and is a great scorer and rebounder. The only chance to slow him down is to play with the same intensity he plays with – which few do. Likely starting alongside him will be McD AA Brandon Wright. A very long, athletic PF, he reminds one of Chris Bosh without the outside game. A dangerous shotblocker and rebounder he will compliment Hansbrough nicely. Both players will have young guns to help them get a breather. First is wide bodied FR Deon Thompson. Thompson is a load down low and knows how to use his body to create scoring opportunities and establish rebounding position.  Along with Thompson is another outstanding California FR Alex Stepheson. Stepheson is more athletic and was a rebounder machine as a HS senior. He is also a player that can score and defend the pf or C spots. Also available in the post is SO Mike Copeland. At SF is returning 3rd All ACC SR Reyshawn Terry. Terry is a big SF who can score outside or play inside. Terry sometimes shies away from contact and is too passive but is a big talent. There are a number of players who can back up at the SF spot include SO wings Danny Green and Marcus Ginyard and FR William Graves. Green had a solid FR year and showed a nice versatility and a good physical presence. Ginyard has the makings of a great perimeter defender. Both are capable of hitting a three if you leave them open. UNC will also have FR William Graves, a very wide bodied SF with a beautiful shooting touch.

Just like the frontcourt, the backcourt will have multiple options, most of them very young. PG is expected to be handed to McD AA Tywon Lawson. Lawson is a small, well built jet that can race up and down the court and make pinpoint passes. His outside shot is basically a set shot but dangerous if you give him space. Likely starting alongside Lawson, and also sometimes backing him up, will be last year's starting PG All Rookie Bobby Frasor. Frasor has the ballhandling and mindset to play the PG, but is a good shooter and should be well used as a combo guard as a SO. Also likely to see a lot of playing time is McD AA Wayne Ellington. A big, pure SG with great range on his jumper and good athleticism. He will push Frasor for time at SG. Tying it all together is SR Wes Miller. After a surpringly strong JR year Miller will be back to lead the team as a SR and provide help in the backcourt along with more good shooting. Finally, JR Quentin Thomas is available to provide even more depth in the backcourt.

Questions

Will this team play as a cohesive unit? There is more than enough talent to make a run to the Final Four, one of the few things that could derail it is bad chemistry. If the leadership steps up this is a very dangerous squad.

Are the Freshmen ready to make their mark? UNC's freshmen class is regarded as one of the best ever, is it ready to live up to that hype? So far the early returns are good.

Will inexperience cost this team? Last year's squad was actually more experienced than this one with 48% of the minutes played by JR and SR. This year may have more freshmen mistakes, the big thing to eliminate those mistakes before the NCAA.

 

North Carolina State

Returnees

Sr. Engin Atsur 6'4, 200 G – 12.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.5 A:TO, 36.1 mpg, 39.1% 3FG, 16 ACC games 15 starts

Jr. Gavin Grant 6'7, 212 F – 7.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 21.3 mpg, 5-20 3FG, 16 ACC games 2 starts

So. Ben McCauley 6'9, 235 F/C – 5-13 FG, 0-2 3FG, 2-3 FT, 7 rb, 71 min (13 ACC games)

So. Courtney Fells 6'5, 194 G – 3-10 FG, 1-5 3FG, 1-1 FT, 5 rb, 30 min (5 ACC games)

R-Fr. Brandon Costner 6'8, 230 F – 5-23 FG, 4-18 3FG, 12 rb, 5 games (before injury redshirt)

ACC % Min returning - 30.5%

ACC % Min played by class 2005 - FR 3%, SO 33%, JR 17%, SR 47%

 

Newcomers

Fr. Dennis Horner 6'7, 200 F – Top 125

Fr. Trevor Ferguson 6'5, 185 G – Top 150+

Fr. Barton Lewandowski 7'3, 245 C – Top 150+

 

Losses

Cam Bennerman G – 15.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1:1 A:TO, 35.2 mpg, 36.4% 3FG, 15 ACC games 15 starts

Cedric Simmons C – 11.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.7 bpg, 29.3 mpg, 16 ACC games 15 starts

Tony Bethel G – 11.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.2:1 A:TO, 35.4 mpg, 16 ACC starts

Ilian Evtimov F – 10.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.3:1 A:TO, 31.1 mpg, 15 ACC games 13 starts

Andrew Brackman 6'10, 220 F – 7.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 18.7 mpg, 32.0% 3FG, 16 ACC games 4 starts

 

ACC Schedule, ACC SoS 33 (4/6, 9/12, 3/4)

Double – MD, UNC, UVA, VT, WF

Home – BC, Clem, Duke

Away – FSU, GT, Miami

 

Preview

After a coaching change and the loss of a lot of talent can NC State rebound and make some noise in the ACC. To do so a lot of inexperienced players are going to have to maximize their talent and try to hide their depth issues.

NC State was hit hard during the offseason with SR departures, early departures and its recruiting class largely abandoning the school, this is nowhere more apparent than in the frontcourt. With Simmons off to the NBA and Brackman focusing on baseball the interior is inexperienced and not deep. At center SO Ben McCauley is likely to hold the fort. Big Ben played limited minutes as a FR but will need to play 30+ as a soph. McCauley is a blue collar throwback kind of player. He is not likely to be a huge presence either on offense (where he made 5 shots against ACC opponents) or on defense (he was a mediocre rebounder and failed to record a block in the ACC), but NC State needs him to grab as many boards as possible and play solid position defense. Likely starting beside him will be former McD AA Brandon Costner who redshirted after an early season injury. Costner is best known for being a shooter, not a banger, and 18 of his 23 shot attempts last year were threes. NC ST needs him to play strong in the post to be successful. Backing them up will be FR project Barton Lewandowski. Lewandowski was bring recruited by Coach Towe at New Orleans before Towe came home to NC State. Lewandowski was seen as a possible redshirt candidate at NO so it is hard to believe he will be able to contribute significant minutes as a FR. Also providing backup will likely be FR Dennis Horner. Horner was the one recruit who stuck with NC State. Best known as a shooter and combo forward rather than a banger type. At SF NC State will have JR Gavin Grant who showed flashes of excellence as a SO. Grant is an tall, athletic three who can run the floor, handle the ball a little but is a poor outside shooter. Horner will also back up Grant as will Trevor Ferguson.

NC State is also depth challenged in the backcourt. Starting at PG will be SR Engin Atsur. Atsur is more a combo guard but NC State needs him to excel at PG. He is an excellent shooter and solid ballhandler but not super quick. Starting alongside Atsur will be SO Courtney Fells. Fells was highly regarded as a HS SR but saw little time as a FR. Coach Lowe's more uptempo style should fit his game better and give him more opportunities to shoot, his best trait. Backing up the starters will be R-FR Trevor Ferguson. Ferguson, a natural wing, took a long route to NC State as a Pitt transfer. He broke both wrists in HS and played little. He is an athletic slasher with some shooting ability and will need to play major minutes once he becomes eligible after Fall Semester.

Questions

Who will step up this year? There is really only 1 proven player on this team – Atsur, and one who has significant playing time – Grant. NC State's season rests a lot on many players who have never played significant minutes in college. Who will live up to expectations and who will fall short?

What style will Coach Lowe play? Coach Lowe has an interesting decision. He wants to play more uptempo and be a pass in and then back out style team. But this squad lacks the depth to run and doesn't have a good post scorer. Will he try to install his system or play a style that gives them a better chance to win?

Will this team fade late in the year? You see many years where teams with little depth play hard and well for awhile but fade late due to heavy legs (think UGA or UVA last year). Will this team have a similar year where it simply runs out of gas at the end?

 

Virginia

Returnees

Sr. JR Reynolds 6'2, 188 G – 17.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.9 apg, 33.7 mpg, 40.5% 3FG, 16 ACC starts

Jr. Sean Singletary 6', 185 G – 17.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.1 A:TO, 34.6 mpg, 29.8% 3FG, 16 ACC starts

Jr. Adrian Joseph 6'7, 205 F – 9.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 29.1 mpg, 33.8% 3FG,  16 ACC games 14 starts

Sr. Jason Cain 6'10, 225 F – 7.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 29.6 mpg, 16 ACC games 15 starts

Jr. Tunji Soroye 6'11, 245 C – 1.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 18.1 mpg, 16 ACC starts

So. Mamadi Diane 6'5, 197 G/F – 5.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 20.1 mpg, 19.4% 3FG, 16 ACC games 1 start

So. Larynas Mikalauskas 6'8, 255 F – 5.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 22.8 mpg, 16 ACC games 1 start

ACC % Min returning - 93.2%

ACC % Min played by class 2005 - FR 21%, SO 40%, JR 36%, SR 2%

 

Newcomers

Fr. Will Harris 6'6, 230 F – Top 100

Fr. Jamil Tucker 6'9, 210 F – Top 75

Fr. Solomon Tat 6'5, 220 G/F – Top 125

Fr. Jerome Meyinsse 6'8, 230 C – Top 150+

R-So. Ryan Pettinella 6'9, 238 F – 4.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 12.4 mpg (as FR at Penn)

 

Losses

Billy Campbell G – 1.0 ppg, 0.5 rpg, 5.5 mpg, 14 ACC games 1 start

TJ Bannister G – 2.5 ppg, 2.1 apg, 1.4:1 A:TO, 13.1 mpg, 1-4 3FG, 11 ACC games

 

ACC Schedule, ACC SoS 29 (3/6, 7/10, 6/6)

Double – MD, Miami, NCSU, VT, WF

Home – Duke, FSU, GT

Away – UNC, BC, Clem

 

Preview

After a better than expected first year this experienced squad has its sights set on the Tourney. UVA returns its top 7 players and brings in a strong recruiting class. If it can get solid production from a big man it is likely to get there.

While UVA has a strong backcourt its frontcourt may determine how successful its season will be. Returning at center is JR Tunji Soroye. Soroye has reportedly gained 30 lbs in the offseason which will help him hold sway in the paint. Soroye is an excellent shotblocker who needs to contribute more offensively and on the glass. At PF SR Jason Cain returns after a solid JR year. Cain is a mediocre scorer, though he has some ability, but was a very solid rebounder last year. Also returning in the frontcourt was top reserve SO Larynas Mikalauskas. Mikalauskas is a bruising blue collar post player who is not afraid to mix it up. UVA will add Penn transfer Ryan Pettinella as another backup as well as Meyinsse who may need a redshirt to allow his skills to catch up with his athleticism. At SF JR Adrian Joseph returns. Joseph is a decent outside shooter who lacks a mid range game and is sometimes indifferent on the defensive end. He could be pushed by a couple of FR. Jamil Tucker is a tall, athletic combo forward with a beautiful jumpshot. He may actually be best suited for the SF spot as he is not known for liking contact. The solidly build Will Harris could also see a lot of time in the frontcourt after a strong prep year. Harris is a well built forward that is not afraid to mix it up. UVA could also use SO Mamadi Diane in a three guard type lineup if necessary.

UVA has the strongest returning backcourt in the conference with two All-ACC players. The star is 1st All-ACC PG JR Sean Singletary. After nagging injuries his first two years he is reportedly healthy for the first time in college. A very quick PG who needs to improve his jumpshot, he is still a big talent. His running mate again will be 3rd All-ACC SG SR JR Reynolds. JR really improved his game as a JR. He is a dangerous outside shooter but has added a solid mid range game to his arsenal. He backs up the PG spot when Singletary takes a break, more important now that Bannister transferred. Also in the backcourt is SO Diane who had a solid rookie year, though he needs to improve his three point shot. UVA also has FR Solomon Tat, a bruising power guard from Atlanta. Not much of a shooter, Tat is someone who looks to get to the basket to use his athleticism and strength.

Questions

Who will step up in the frontcourt? This team has an all-conference backcourt, but it needs more production from the frontcourt. Which returning player can step up to be a legitimate threat in the post so defenses can't focus completely on the guards?

Who fills in at guard when Singletary and Reynolds sit? UVA's starting guards are as solid as any in the ACC, but the depth is completely unproven. Who plays PG if both have to sit down? Who gets the minutes when one is taking a breather. You don't want your guards wearing out before the end of the season like last year.

Will UVA take advantage of the schedule? UVA plays in the new John Paul Jones Arena this fall and has by far the easiest ACC schedule with single games against the pre-season top 5 and 2 each against the bottom 3. Will UVA take advantage of a schedule that should be worth a game or two against the other middle tier squads and make it into the top 3 or 4 in the conference?

 

Virginia Tech

Returnees

Sr. Zabian Dowdell 6'3, 200 G – 15.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.8:1 A:TO, 36.2 mpg, 32.9% 3FG, 16 ACC games 14 starts

Sr. Jamon Gordon 6'3, 215 G – 12.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.6:1 A:TO, 35.2 mpg, 19.2% 3FG, 16 ACC games 14 starts

Sr. Coleman Collins 6'9, 240 F/C – 12.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 32.5 mpg, 14 ACC games 10 starts

Jr. Deron Washington 6'7, 205 F – 9.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 31.2 mpg, 6-19 3FG, 15 ACC games 14 starts

So. AD Vassallo 6'6, 215 G/F – 7.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 19.2 mpg, 40.0% 3FG, 16 ACC games 8 starts

Sr. Marcus Sailes 6'5, 210 G – 2.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 17.7 mpg, 1-6 3FG, 16 ACC games 4 starts

Sr. Chris Tucker 6'6, 220 F – 1.1 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 9.3 mpg, 15 ACC games

So. Cheick Diakite 6'9, 230 F – 6-14 FG, 3-5 FT, 12 rb, 84 min (13 ACC games 3 starts)

R-So. Robert Krabbendam 7', 240 C – Injury redshirt, yet to play

ACC % Min returning - 88.6%

ACC % Min played by class 2005 - FR 12%, SO 25%, JR 62%, SR 1%

 

Newcomers

Fr. Nigel Munson 6', 175 G – Top 100

Fr. Lewis Witcher 6'9, 220 F – Top 150+

 

Losses

Wynton Witherspoon G/F – 6.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg. 29.3% 3FG

 

ACC Schedule, ACC SoS 32 (5/6, 6/10, 5/6)

Double – BC, Miami, UNC, NCSU, UVA

Home – Clem, MD, WF

Away – Duke, FSU, GT

 

Preview

After a season filled with on and off the court heartbreak, a very senior oriented team looks to make its mark before having to rebuild. If the players put all of last year's troubles behind then they have a chance to turn a lot of close losses into wins and make an NCAA Appearance.

Much like UVA VT has strong guard play but could use some more help down low. One definite is HM All-ACC SR Coleman Collins. Collins had another strong season last year and will look to go out on a high note as a SR. The big question is how much will he play at C and how much at PF. Collins is solid in all phases of the game down low. Likely getting a lot of time at PF will be wing JR Deron Washington. Washington is a fantastic athletic who needed to upgrade his three-point shot (and rumors are he has) and could be a matchup problem for some teams at PF. Some other players who will likely split minutes in the post include big man Robert Krabbendam, who VT hopes is finally able to stay healthy and help in the post after two years of health issues. Also, SO Cheick Diakite showed nice athleticism in limited time as a FR. SR Chris Turner, a hard working kid also returns but may lose time to FR Lewis Witcher, who VT sees as its next Coleman Collins. A well built athletic post man. Washington will see time at SF when he is not at PF. When Washington is not at SF expect to see HM All-ACC Rookie SO AD Vassallo. Vassallo had a nice FR year. He showed toughness and was a dangerous if streaky outside shooter.

VT returns its starting backcourt from last year, and both hope to go out strong as SR. HM All-ACC Zabian Dowdell is a strong scorer, good defender and ballhandler and a decent outside shooter. He is paired with Jamon Gordon, who is also a solid ball handler and a very good scorer off the dribble, but a suspect outside shooter. Both play hard defensively and can play either guard spot. Behind them you will see FR PG Nigel Munson. Munson is the likely future at PG for the Hokies, a small, quick PG who had a strong SR year. Munson may be the best passer entering the league. VT could also use SR Marcus Sailes and SO AD Vassallo at SG if necessary.

Questions

Will VT rebound from the troubles of last year? Last year's squad went through a lot of off the court heartbreak and on the court lost a lot of close games. With a very experienced squad that will have to be rebuilt next year, can this team translate its experience into wins?

How will VT play inside? Everyone knows what Collins can do, but who will help him. Will they go big with guys like Krabbendam and Diakite or will they go smaller with a wing like Washington?

Who will shoot the ball? This team has some good scorers, but not a lot of good shooters. Someone will need to shoot well from outside to open up lanes for the penetrators and post players or VT will become easy to defend.

 

Wake Forest

Returnees

So. Harvey Hale 6'2, 186 G – 7.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1:1 A:TO, 23.9 mpg, 31.0% 3FG, 16 ACC Games 8 starts

Sr. Mike Drum 6'6, 204 G/F – 5.4 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 20.0 mpg, 35.3% 3FG, 16 ACC games 6 starts

Sr. Kyle Visser 6'11, 255 C – 2.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, , 13.1 mpg, 16 ACC games 4 starts

So. Kevin Swinton 6'7, 224 F – 2.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 12.4 mpg, 16 ACC games 6 starts

R-So. Cam Stanley 6'6, 214 G/F – 3.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 12.0 mpg, 5-14 3FG, 14 ACC games

So. Shamaine Dukes 6'1, 175 G – 5-16 FG, 3-8 3FG, 1-2 FT, 6 rb, 9 as (1:2 A:TO), 77 min (12 ACC games 3 starts)

R-Fr David Weaver 6'10, 224 – redshirted as Fr.

ACC % Min returning - 41.8%

ACC % Min played by class 2005 - FR 25%, SO 0%, JR 16%, SR 59%

 

Newcomers

Fr. Anthony Gurley 6'3, 185 G – Top 75

Fr. Jamie Skeen 6'8, 220 F – Top 75

Fr. Ish Smith 5'11, 155 G – Top 100

Fr. LD Williams 6'4, 210 G/F – Top 125

Fr. Casey Crawford 6'9, 225 F – Top 150+

Fr. Chas McFarland 7', 235 C – Top 150+

 

Losses

Justin Gray G – 19.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.5:1 A:TO, 36.0 mpg, 38.3% 3FG, 15 ACC starts

Eric Williams F/C – 16.6 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1 bpg, 33.8 mpg, 16 ACC starts

Trent Strickland G/F – 11.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 31.8 mpg, 50% 3FG, 16 ACC games 15 starts

Chris Ellis F – 3.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 18.9 mpg, 3-18 3FG, 16 ACC games 6 starts

 

ACC Scheduling, ACC SoS 32 (4/6, 8/12, 4/4)

Double – GT, Miami, UNC, UVa, NCSU

Home – BC, MD, Clem

Away – Duke, FSU, VT

 

Preview

After  a surprisingly poor season last year Wake will look to rebound with a talented young squad. This will likely be a rebuilding year with a FR and SO oriented squad but it needs to keep its confidence up through the rocky patches and pull some nice wins so it can build toward a bright future.

Few teams lost as much as Wake did last season and its frontcourt was a big part of it. After being a mainstay for four seasons, Eric Williams has departed and now SR Kyle Visser has one last chance to live up to expectations. Visser has shown a nice game at times, but has never shown consistency with it and loses confidence easily. Wake desperately needs Visser to stay out of foul trouble, rebound and score in the paint. Along with Visser in the frontcourt is another player that played similar backup minute last year, SO Kevin Swinton. Swinton looked lost at times last year but played very well in Bermuda this summer and has the size to bang in the ACC. Also in the post R-FR David Weaver will play for the first time. After redshirting to gain weight and strength Weaver will be counted on to backup Visser at C. Along with Swinton Wake is also likely to utilize talented FR Jamie Skeen at PF. Skeen, who could also see time at SF, is a skilled combo forward who needs time to get used to ACC intensity but has an intriguing skill set and may be someone Wake can build around for the future. Skeen was injured early in his SR year but finished it strong. Wake also has two other FR to help in the post. Chas McFarland is a tall, thin center who will likely need time to make an impact. Late signee Casey Crawford is a modestly athletic talent best suited as a three point threat. Coach Prosser will also have multiple options to sort through at SF. Two returning players with expererience here are SR Mike Drum and R-So Cam Stanley. Drum is a heady wing with a solid three point shot. Stanley is a more athletic wing who showed some flashes of being a solid ACC player but needs time to reach that potential. Along with FT Skeen who could see some time here Wake also has FR LD Williams a high rising wing from FL who could become a defensive stopper over time for Wake.

Wake suffered greatly from Chris Paul's loss last year getting mediocre at best guard play. They hope a couple of FR can give them hope for the future. At PG, small, super quick FR Ish Smith will be given a chance to earn the starting spot. He is extremely quick and an excellent passer, but may have some trouble scoring and defending at his small size. At SG, it is likely that Wake will at least start the year with All-ACC Rookie pick SO Harvey Hale. Hale was a streaky shooter last year, but always gave the effort at the defensive end. He could also play some PG. Along with Smith and Hale FR Anthony Gurley is likely to see a lot of playing time, Gurley is a big time shooter and scorer who will be asked to become an offensive weapon quickly in Winston-Salem. Wake also has the services of SO PG Shamaine Dukes who provided limited backup last year. LD Williams could also play in the backcourt if necessary.

Questions

Who will lead? One of the most important questions for any young team is who will provide leadership. Wake has only 2 SR and no JR. Will the two seniors step up and help the FR learn the ropes?

Who is going to score? Wake lost most of its scoring from last season, so who will be counted on to score in the uptempo game Coach Prosser prefers? Skeen and Gurley are the best scorers among the FR, can they score early in their ACC careers and can Visser have a big SR yr.

Will this team play defense? Defense has been a sore point at Wake ever since Josh Howard left. Wake always seems to score points, but gives up even more. If Wake isn't dedicated to playing defense with such a young team it will end up on the wrong end of some lopsided scores on nights its players don't shoot well.

 

One fool's ACC projection

Based on a combination of what teams lost, what they returned, how they performed last year and this year's ACC schedule here is one fool's projection.

  1. UNC – So much talent
  2. Duke – Never pick against Coach K to finish out of the top 2
  3. BC – I'm going to believe in Rice, he is the key
  4. UVA – My sleeper, experienced, deep and an easy schedule
  5. GT – Big time talent, do they win the close ones this year
  6. FSU – If they can play like Nova they can make the NCAA
  7. MD – Need one of the FR PG's to step up to make the NCAA
  8. VT – Experienced group of SRs hope to go out strong
  9. Clemson – Tough ACC schedule could push them down slightly
  10. Wake – Talented young team that most likely needs one more year
  11. Miami – A couple of nice pieces but needs new scorers
  12. NCSU – Lack of depth and experience could really hurt

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