Ranking the 2003-04 ACC B-Ball Recruiting Classes

Now that the fall signing period for the 2003-04 basketball season has come and gone, it's time to take a closer look at the ACC's recruiting classes as they currently stand.

Since a vast majority of high school seniors sign letters of intent in the fall as opposed to the spring, these early rankings can be a clear indication of what these teams will have for the 2004-05 season, as well as where they are headed as a program. Of course, some prospects may not qualify, and others may decide to skip college altogether. But for now, here is a look at how the ACC classes rank out and what kind of impact they'll have for their respective teams:

1. North Carolina
Marvin Williams, 6-8, F
J.R. Smith, 6-5, G/F
JamesOn Curry, 6-3, G
Quentin Thomas, 6-3, G

Roy Williams hit the ground running with his first recruiting class. Marvin Williams is a future all-star who has the perimeter game to play small forward, but likely will play the four next to Sean May. However, Roy will have to sweat for a while because of the distinct possibility that Williams will enter the NBA draft in June. Smith is a pure athlete who will remind Tar Heel fans of Vince Carter, except that he is a much better shooter than Vince at this stage. If he qualifies academically, he will settle in at the small forward spot. Curry gives the Heels a solid scoring guard, and Thomas is a capable point guard who will have to replace Raymond Felton, who – barring unforeseen circumstances – is sure to bolt for the NBA draft in June. As long as Williams (Marvin, that is) holds off on his professional career and Smith makes the grade, this could be the class that gets UNC back to the Final Four.

2. Duke
Shaun Livingston, 6-6, G
DeMarcus Nelson, 6-3, G
David McClure, 6-6, F

There are many scouting services that compare Livingston to Magic Johnson – and rightfully so. Livingston possesses uncanny quickness, remarkable court vision and excellent size for a point guard. If he bypasses the NBA draft this year, he would have the biggest impact of any freshman in the nation. Nelson is a dynamic shooting guard, who can take it to the basket as well as he can shoot from outside. While McClure may not have as much pure talent as other recent Duke recruits, he is a solid role player that draws comparisons to former Blue Devil Chris Carrawell. If both Livingston and current freshman Luol Deng were to somehow turn down the lure of the NBA and show up in Duke uniforms next fall with Ewing, Redick, Randolph and the rest of the gang, the Blue Devils will be the hands-down favorite to win the national title.

3. NC State
Cedric Simmons, 6-9, F/C
Gavin Grant, 6-6, G/F
Tony Bethel, 6-2, G (Transfer from Georgetown)
Andrew Brackman, 6-9, F

Simmons is the perfect candidate to start in the middle of Herb Sendek's perimeter-oriented offense. He can rebound aggressively, he can block shots with authority, and he's a much better shooter than Josh Powell on his best day. If Julius Hodge heads to the NBA after this season, Grant will be an adequate replacement, considering he has similar defensive and ball-handling skills. Bethel will give State a solid starter at point guard for the next couple of years. Brackman could be a decent contributor in the frontcourt, but probably will focus more on his baseball career eventually, as he is also a premier pitching prospect. Overall, this class stands as one of Sendek's best, and should pay dividends starting in 2004-05. Expect another scholarship to open up in the spring (either with the departure of Hodge or another transfer), but Sendek will probably save that one for next year.

4. Georgia Tech
Ra'Sean Dickey, 6-9, F/C
Zam Fredrick, 6-1, G
Jeremis Smith, 6-7, F
Anthony Morrow, 6-5, G

Fredrick should see a lot of playing time right away at both guard spots. Morrow will provide some spot perimeter shooting, but little else. Dickey and Smith, however, are the key prospects of this group, as both will provide valuable frontcourt depth for a team that sorely needs it. If 6-11 center Randolph Morris decides to pass on the NBA and ink with the Yellow Jackets, not only will this class leapfrog NC State's for third place in the conference, but it will also give Paul Hewitt a solid foundation to work with.

5. Florida State
Jason Rich, 6-2, G
Isaiah Swann, 6-2, G

On the heels of his top-ranked recruiting class from last year, Leonard Hamilton brings in a two big-time guards that will score points and move the ball. Swann is a playmaker that will back-up both backcourt spots, while Rich is a deadeye shooter and an underrated defender. Hamilton couldn't have picked a better duo to replace his current senior backcourt of Tim Pickett and Nate Johnson. Hamilton did lose power forward Charles Thomas to Arkansas, but he should find a rebounding big man in the junior college ranks to take the last scholarship.

6. Clemson
Cheyenne Moore, 6-6, G/F
Sam Perry, 6-6, F
James Mays, 6-8, F

Oliver Purnell wasted no time in upgrading the talent level of his new team. Perry is a pure athlete who can bring fans to their feet. Moore will bring a scoring punch off the bench. But of the three, power forward Mays (if he qualifies) will have the best chance to start as a freshman, as long as Purnell keeps Olu Babalola out on the wing. The Tigers appear to have the frontcourt of the future set with Perry and Mays at the forward spots and 2005 recruit Joey Cameron filling out the center position. Purnell's next job will be to recruit a top-notch point guard from the 2005 class. The Tigers should make a lot of noise in a couple of years.

7. Virginia Tech
Marquie Cooke, 6-3, G
Justin Holt, 6-6, F
Deron Washington, 6-7, F

Seth Greenberg has clearly used the appeal of playing in the ACC rather well, and is beginning to build the program up to where it needs to be. Cook is the big catch, as he is far more talented than any point guard they have on the roster. Even if he doesn't qualify, his commitment has opened the doors for other big-timers to join the program. Holt, a juco transfer, should help replace the scoring left by departing seniors Bryant Matthews and Carlos Dixon. Washington will contribute from the wing, and gain valuable minutes early. This haul represents a good start, but Greenberg still needs a solid post player to complete it.

8. Virginia
Sean Singletary, 6-3, G
Adrian Joseph, 6-7, F
Tunji Soroye, 6-10, C

Pete Gillen can attest to the fact that life on the hot-seat gets sweltering on the recruiting trail. Amazingly, Gillen did get a point guard to build his team around in Singletary. In fact, the Wahoos could really use him this season, as there is no true floor leader on the current roster. Joseph can provide decent depth at either forward spot, but will spend his career backing up at the four. Soroye is a sleeper, who brings raw athletic ability to the post, but will need to develop significantly to be a full-time contributor. A decent class, but can it save Gillen's job?

9. Maryland
James Gist, 6-8, F

With only two scholarships on hand, Gary Williams went after the best athletes available. Early in the year, he nabbed a good one in Gist, who should be able to find minutes in the Terps' crowded frontcourt. Williams also was close to landing big-time forward Rudy Gay, but UConn swooped in and snatched him away – which has led to some finger pointing by Williams. Now, Gary may use his remaining scholarship to go after a prime juco prospect, like center Aaron Pettway.

10. Miami
C.J. Giles, 6-11, C
Glenn Batemon, 6-10, C (Transfer from Fordham)

With these two additions, Perry Clark has replenished his frontcourt depth at center. Giles is a shot-blocking defensive presence, and should be an immediate starter. Batemon is a little heavier and a bit slower than Clark would prefer, but he will take up a considerable amount of space in the paint. Clark still needs to reel in a good power forward and another scorer to replace Darius Rice to make this a breakout class.

11. Wake Forest
Cameron Stanley, 6-7, F

After bringing in nine players over the past two years, Skip Prosser had only one scholarship to offer in this class, and Stanley gobbled it up well over a year ago. While Stanley is a decent athlete and a respectable shooter, he probably won't be much more than a role player for the Demon Deacons for a majority of his career. The important thing for Prosser, however, is that Stanley's early commitment helped the coaching staff get a head start on the class of 2005, from which they already have pledges from two of the top 50 prospects.

12. Boston College
Akida McLain, 6-7, F
Gordon Watt, 6-6, F
Sean Williams, 6-9, F/C

Al Skinner brought in a decent group here, but there really isn't an ACC-caliber talent among them, except maybe Williams. Watt, a defensive stopper, and McLain, a sleeper, will eventually contribute at both forward spots for the Eagles, but the primary needs were another point guard and a post player to replace super sophomore Craig Smith in case he decides to bolt for the NBA. Williams has the low-post skills to become the heir apparent in the middle, but the class really took a hit when Skinner missed out on point Ramel Bradley. This group is not enough keep BC from wallowing in the ACC's lower tier when they join the conference next year.

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