Monday, July 16, 2012
ACC's most important players
By Robbi Pickeral
Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on the ACC, click here.
Boston College: Ryan Anderson The forward was a unanimous All-ACC rookie selection last season after leading his team with 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds. But the freshmen-laden Eagles averaged only 59.1 points and 40.8 percent shooting. So as Anderson's numbers build, so perhaps will BC's.
Clemson: Milton Jennings Remember when the senior forward was touted as the first McDonald's All-American signed by the Tigers since 1991? With Andre Young and Tanner Smith having graduated, Clemson needs Jennings to finally live up to that potential. Last season, he served two suspensions and averaged 9.7 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Duke: Seth Curry Austin Rivers was Duke's go-to guy last season, but his early departure makes Curry, a senior, Duke's leading returning scorer (13.2 ppg). Coach Mike Krzyzewski has said he wants Curry to be able to concentrate more on scoring this season, and it helps that he won't be asked to play point guard, like last season.
Florida State: Michael Snaer The 6-foot-5 senior isn't just key because he's the team's leading scorer (14 ppg), but because he's the Seminoles' leader, period. His two ACC game winners gave the Seminoles a fearless attitude last season that should carry over to this season, too, even with so many of last season's players gone.
Georgia Tech: Mfon Udofia No returning Yellow Jackets averaged double figures last season, but the closest is Udofia (9.9 ppg at point guard). His senior leadership will be as important as his stats, as Tech will continue to try to rebuild after an 11-win season. Perhaps making things a bit easier for the young team: Udofia and the Jackets will open at their new arena, McCamish Pavilion, in November.
Maryland: Nick Faust With last season's ACC leading scorer, Terrell Stoglin, gone, Maryland needs some offense, and this sophomore looks like a good candidate. Although the guard averaged 8.9 points last season (third on the team), that jumped to 13.4 over his last nine games. And the Terps would like to see it jump even more.
Miami: Reggie Johnson At 6-10 and 284 pounds, this senior is an exhausting load for most big men to contend with. With veterans Kenny Kadji and Durand Scott also back, expect second-year coach Jim Larranaga to try to get more of everything out of Johnson (10 points, 7.2 rebounds), who got a late start last season after knee surgery.
North Carolina: James Michael McAdoo Questions linger about who's going to get the sophomore forward the ball (Will Dexter Strickland be healthy? Will Marcus Paige be ready?), but with little experience in the frontcourt, McAdoo is going to be counted on to be UNC's go-to big guy. He came on strong at the end of the last season, averaging 10.6 points and 4.8 rebounds over his last seven games.
NC State: C.J. Leslie The 6-8 forward averaged a team-best 14.7 points, plus 7.3 rebounds last season and helped the Wolfpack to a late surge that pushed them to their first NCAA berth since 2006. State isn't very deep in the frontcourt, so his decision to return bolstered the Wolfpack as a top-10 favorite.
Virginia: Jontel Evans It's going to be difficult for the Cavs to replace forward Mike Scott's offense, but Evans, a senior guard, returns with defensive intensity and consistency. Last season, Evans became the first Cavalier since 2001 to be named to the ACC's All-Defensive team, and coach Tony Bennett will expect him to set the stick-to-itive tone, again.
Virginia Tech: Erick Green New head coach James Johnson is expecting the senior to lead the Hokies on and off the court, and to that end, Green attended Chris Paul's CP3 Elite Guard Camp and the Deron Williams Skills Academy this summer. The second-team All-ACC selection averaged 15.6 points last season, and his consistency will be key to a team that features a single-digit number of scholarship players.
Wake Forest: Codi Miller-McIntyre
After the transfer of Tony Chennault, the freshman point guard will likely have to play 30-plus minutes from the get-go. How well, often and consistently he can get the ball to veterans C.J. Harris and Travis McKie will impact how much the Deacons improve on last season's 13-18 finish.