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Can't wait for action to begin in wide-open ACC

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Aug. 26
I can't wait for ACC action this season! It should be a wide open campaign. I know lots of people are thinking about what could have been in the conference, with Jay Williams, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Carlos Boozer of Duke, Virginia's Roger Mason Jr. and Maryland's Chris Wilcox going to the NBA early.

Steve Blake
Maryland's Steve Blake (25) is back, but Duke's Jay Williams (22) jumped to the NBA.
Imagine what Duke would have been like with that big three? But don't cry for the Dukies, as coach Mike Krzyzewski has one of the top recruiting classes coming in, led by Shavlik Randolph, Sean Dockery and Shelden Williams. These diaper dandies will step up as Williams, Dunleavy and Boozer stepped up when Elton Brand, Corey Maggette and William Avery left early from a Final Four team. This year's Blue Devils also have veterans Dahntay Jones, Chris Duhon and Daniel Ewing.

By the way, memo to Jerry Krause: Why did you trade Elton Brand? Now you have another Dukie, Jay Williams, so don't deal him, baby!

Back to the ACC. Will it be Duke, or Maryland with Steve Blake and Tahj Holden, leading the way? Can Blake and Holden blend with the newcomers joining Maryland's roster? Can the Terps defend their ACC and national championship?

What about Virginia? Coach Peter Gillen has a veteran team. Travis Watson is a force up front. The Cavs also have two All-Marco Polo transfers, Todd Billet and Nick Vander Laan. Mason should have stayed in school, baby!

Don't forget about N.C. State. Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek can be a motivator for fellow coach Larry Shyatt at Clemson. Remember, Sendek was thought to be a goner last season until he rolled up his sleeves, went to work and shocked everyone by leading the Wolfpack to the NCAAs for the first time in more than a decade. Super sophomore Julius Hodge returns to key N.C. State.

Georgia Tech is improving, and coach Paul Hewitt has another exciting recruiting class coming in, including Chris Bosh. Plus, there will be intrigue in Chapel Hill: Can Matt Doherty rally the Tar Heels after a disappointing season? And Wake Forest returns Josh Howard, one of the ACC's premier players.

So as I'm still enjoying the sun down in Sarasota, Fla., I'm thinking about how exciting the ACC will be, baby!

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