ACC Basketball Preview: Part II

Part II of a two part series on the upcoming ACC basketball season. The top six teams were reviewed in part I and the bottom six are highlighted today in part II.

7. Wake Forest- This is going to be a hard team to figure out. The two best players from last years last place team are gone but they are bringing in a consensus top 4 ACC recruiting class. A lot will depend on the play of their freshmen from last season and their new ones this year. This relatively high ranking is mostly due to the feeling that they will have a true PG that can lead the team this year although it is tough for any PG not named Chris Paul to be a big success as a freshman. Ishmael Smith is the freshmen who will have to grow up quickly and also get some help from Joe Dukes who showed a few flashes last year but was inconsistent most of the time. Kevin Swinton, Joe Dukes, and Harvey Hale will progress greatly as they become sophomores and they will have to. Look for them to stuggle early but to become a team that nobody wants to play by February.
Most Important Player- Ishmael Smith
Impact Necomer- Anthony Gurley

8. Maryland- Several years of mediocre recruiting will catch up to the Terps this year. The lack of a capable PG was a consistent theme in the ACC last year and Maryland suffered more than anyone. Not sure they have yet solved this problem, but their inside players will help alleviate this somewhat. This is an athletic frontcourt whose ability to defend will be key for them. DJ Strawberry helps offset the woeful defensive ability of Mike Jones who will have to play nonetheless. Outside shooting will be a problem for Maryland this year and they will have to rely on Jones and freshman Greivis Vasquez to provide points from outside. The mercurial Gary Williams will have his work cut out for himself this season.
Most Important Player- Parrish Brown
Impact Newcomer- Greivis Vasquez

9. FSU- This is a very hard team to read and this could cause them to finish anywhere from 4th to 10th. Leonard Hamilton has a history of recruiting well but underachieving somewhat when it comes to play. They will be one of the most athletic teams in the ACC but they don't always play smart. Al Thornton is a marvelous player who will get his points but who will help him inside is a huge question mark. They don't have much size so they will have to rely on their athleticism and quickness to push the pace. Toney Douglas is a very big addition for them and will prosper in the ACC but they have many questions about their outside shooting.
Most Important Player- Uche Echefu
Impact Newcomer- Toney Douglas

10.Clemson- The key for this team to improve this ranking is what they can develop in their inside game. They are solid on the wings and guard positions but must find major help for James Mays now that Akin Akinbala has graduated. Their outside defense is very good but is very questionable in the paint. Outside shooting will be an area they will have to improve if they hope to move up in the standings. They do have a pretty good recruiting class coming in but it is a class that will likely take a year or two to develop into ACC level. Oliver Purnell preaches defense and Clemson will have to rely on that to have a successful season.
Most Important Player- James Mays
Impact Newcomer- David Potter

11.Miami- Miami lost a lot from a very shallow team so they will likely struggle. They can not replace a Diaz and Hite like some teams could and still be a factor. Anthony Harris and Denis Clemente pretty much comprise their whole backcourt and an average recruiting year provides little help there. Dwayne Collins will be a major help to Anthony King inside and could develop into an outstanding player with time but they also will need Fabio Nass or Jimmy Graham to come up big if they have any hope of moving up the rankings.
Most Important player- Anthony Harris
Impact Newcomer- Dwayne Collins

12.NCSU- Their losses are huge and their additions are small, which spells a very bad season for the Pack. Sidney Lowe will face a daunting task of rebuilding this team after Herb Sendek left for greener pastures. Engin Atsur needs to get healthy quick and show he can handle the PG spot or it could get real ugly in Raleigh. They also lack any semblance of an inside game now that Simmons and Brackman are gone and someone(s) have to step up big to keep the season from being an absolute disaster (Brandon Costner would be a big help here). A good recruiting class was gutted when Sendek left and they have a dearth of scholarship players and depth will be a huge issue, especially later in the season. The lone hope and bright spot for State is the dynamic wing combo of Courtney Fells and Gavin Grant. These two will score a lot of points for State and will have to for them to remain competitive.
Most Important Player- Ben McCauley
Impact Newcomer- Dennis Horner

This will be a reloading year for the ACC and the incoming freshmen classes will pay big dividends down the road for most of the leagues teams. Regardless of what happens, it will be a very interesting year to see how some young players mature and get better.


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