Monday, December 14, 2009

ACC Ballers: Freshman Watch

You all have voiced your opinion and apparently the consensus is that Boston College and North Carolina will split the ACC Regular season title. Somehow I doubt this but hey, stranger things have happened.

Like every year the ACC is home to several of the top freshman in the country. Last season we had guys like Sylven Landesberg (UVA) and Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest) that came in and played exceptionally well . This season is no different as several top first year players will have a huge impact on their teams success. As always, some of these guys will be so good that they'll be getting paid to play next season so enjoy them while you can. Without further ado...

ACC Ballers Pre-Season First Team All Conference:

Forward - Derrick Favors - 6'10, 246lbs. - Georgia Tech

ACC Ballers Pre-Season Freshman of the Year 2009-2010

Rarely does a commitment from a high school kid allow a man to keep his multi million dollar job. That's exactly what happened when head coach Paul Hewitt, who was on the hot seat in the middle of an 11-18 season, was given a gift when Derrick ('s #2 ranked player in the class of 2009) decided he would attend Georgia Tech University in the fall of 2009. To put it bluntly, the University's patience was rewarded as Favors has lead the Yellow Jackets to 6-1 record and a national ranking (#15). He's averaged 13.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.3 blocks for his home town school thus far. These numbers are more impressive when you consider he's shooting a staggering 67% from the field. Favors will probably only be in Atlanta for one year so anytime you get a chance to see him you should tune in.

Forward - Ari Stewart - 6'7, 190lbs. - Wake Forest

Ari has been everything he was build to be coming into his first year in Winston Salem. Stewart, the 52 ranked player nationally by both and, is a high flying athlete with a good bit of basketball skill to boot. All he's done is averaged 9.5 points to go along with 3 rebounds coming off of Coach Gaudio's bench. Stewart is the type of player that in a year or two will be contemplating the NBA draft. Here's a small look at what he did on the high school level.


Guard - C.J. Harris - 6'2 175 lbs. - Wake Forest

Harris is a quick guard from North Carolina that decided to play for his home state school. Boy is a Dino Gaudio glad he did. The unheralded freshman ('s 18th ranked senior point guard in 2009)has come in and averaged 12 points a game while shooting 54% from 3. C.J has played so well that he's worked his way into the Deacs' starting lineup. To say he has out played his rivals 3 star status is an understatement.

Guard - Andre Dawkins - 6'5 196 lbs. - Duke

Dawkins, a 5 star 2010 recruit from Virginia, decided to graduate from high school a year early so he could add some depth to Coach K's back court. This high flying wing guard is explosive with a nice touch from the outside. He looks like he's an overgrown 12 year old but thus far he has proven he can play with the big boys. Dawkins a shade under 10 points (9.9 ppg) while shooting a bit over 50% from the 3.

(The video is not that great)

Guard - Mfon Udofia - 6'2 187 lbs. - Georgia Tech

Udofia came in as's 32 ranked player in 2009 (6th rated point guard) and was handed the reigns at point guard for Paul Hewitt's squad from day 1. Udofia has been ballin. The super quick guard from Georgia has averaged 12 points, 3 dimes, and 3 boards a game for the 15th ranked team in the country. All this while playing the most difficult position in the game. While it helps to have future pro's in junior Gani Lawal and the aforementioned Favors, Udofia has more than held his own. While Favors and Lawal will do what they do all year it will be Udofia's ability to run the show that will determine how far the Yellow Jackets can go in March. Thus far it looks like Paul Hewitt has nothing to worry about.

ACC Ballers Dunk of the Week:

It didn't count but wow, really doesn't get much better than this right here from Boston College's Rakim Sanders.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

ACC/Big Ten Challenge 2009

It's that time again. The 11th ACC/Big Ten Challenge is upon us and for the first time since its inception the Big Ten might win. That's right, the ACC is a perfect 10-0 at this point (started in 1999) and the conference will look to maintain it's winning ways again although it might be difficult this go around. The reason for optimism in the Big Ten is basically that these schools have a lot of returning experience and the ACC just does not. The top ACC schools like UNC, Duke, and Wake Forest lost a combined 7 players to the NBA in the spring while most of the Big Ten elite return their primary players. On the other hand Michigan State returns elite point guard Kalin Lucas, Ohio State returns ultra athletic combo guard Eric Turner, and Purder returns a trio of talented players in Robbie Hummel, Jajuan Johnson, E'twaun Moore). Last season the ACC won a highly competitive challenge (6-5) and this year they'll have to fight even harder to maintain their success. I'll break down the games below and give my prediction.

Monday - November 30, 2009

Penn State 69 at Virginia 66 (box score)


Virginia will rely on pre-season All ACC selection sophomore Sylven Landesberg and his 16 points per game for its offense. More importantly will be the play of 6'8 230lbs. junior Mike Scott. Scott will be the best rebounder on the court for much of the game and it will be imperative for him to dominate the glass if the Cavaliers want to win this one. Penn State relies heavily on junior Talor Battle (18, 6 boards, 3.5 assists per night) to make the offense go. Battle will get most of his help from experienced forwards David Jackson and Jeff Brooks, each of which average 10 points a night in this young season. The Nittany Lions do not rebound very well (the 6'0 Battle leads the team in rebounds) and it will be interesting to see how they will be able to rebound against their first big conference opponent of the year.

ACC Ballers' Pick: Virginia


The Cavaliers was the better of the two teams in the first half as it lead 27-21 at halftime. Unfortunately for UVA Penn State's Talor Battle decided to assert himself in a big way. The 6 foot junior went off in the second half to the tune of 28 points. Plain and simple, he could not be guarded. Each and every time UVA went on a run, which honestly was not very often in the second half, Battle answered. Remarkably Sammy Zeglinski and Sylven Landesberg hit several shots down the stretch to pull UVA back in the game within the last 5 minutes but Battle's accurate free throw shooting kept the Nittany Lions in ahead.

Tuesday - December 1, 2009

Wake Forest 58 at #6 Purdue 69 (box score)


The aforementioned Purdue trio (Moore, Hummel, and Johnson) combine to average 43 points and 16 rebounds per game. This will be tough for the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest to contend with. Superstar sophomore combo forward Al-Farouq Aminu (18ppg, 11rpg) and senior point guard Ishmael Smith should keep Wake in the game but it will take a monumental effort to beat the #6 team in the country on the road.

ACC Ballers' Pick: Purdue


It took some time but #6 Purdue eventually pulled away from Wake Forest in the second half. Jajuan Johnson had a solid outing for the Boilermakers going 7-13 from the field for 21 points, 9 boards, and 3 blocks. The key to the victory for Purdue was holding superstar Al-Farouq Aminu to just 12 points on 3-11 of shooting. The Deacs rely on Aminu to get going each and every game and while he started off the game hot he cooled off significantly in the second half. Much of this had to do with Purdue's solid defense and just better play from star forward Robbie Hummel.

Northwestern 65 at North Carolina State 53 (box score)


North Carolina State relies on sweet shooting 6'9 forward Dennis Horner (15ppg, 58% 3pt) and big man Tracy Smith (15ppg) to get it done night in and night out. On the other hand Northwestern relies on guard Michael Thompson (16ppg) and a host of others to initiate their offense. Although NC State is undefeated to date the Wildcats of Northwestern's 5-1 record includes wins against Notre Dame and Iowa State. Their only came to #10 ranked Butler.

ACC Ballers' Pick: Northwestern

This game was never really in doubt as Northwestern took a commanding lead in the first half and didn't let up. Junior guard Michael Thompson went for 22 points and really led the Wildcats to this victory. In the loss NC State forward Tracy Smith had 23 points and 7 rebounds.

Maryland 80 at Indiana 68 (box score)


Maryland is coming off of a rough stretch at the Maui Invitational (1-2) and will look to rebound against Indiana. While the Terps come into the game with 4 starters averaging double figures they will need pre-season co ACC Player of the Year Greivis Vasquez to improve upon his very pedestrians numbers (11 points, 4 boards, and 5 assists per game) to really put this game away like they should. The Hoosiers rely on 2 freshman and a sophomore for the bulk of their scoring and have been very shaky thus far (3-3). Indiana is still rebuilding and Gary should have his Terps playing well after a disappointing Maui tournament.

ACC Ballers' Pick: Maryland


As predicted the Terrapins' experienced showed in this game and Greivis Vasquez over came another off shooting night to score 23 points in the victory. Senior Landon Milbourne added 19 points and 7 rebounds in this one. Indiana fought and clawed throughout the game to keep within striking distance but in the end they couldn't put together enough successful defensive possessions to shut down Maryland.

#9 Michigan State 82 at #11 North Carolina 89 (box score)


The rematch of the 2008-2009 National Championship game is the premier matchup in this year's Challenge. It should not disappoint. The Spartans return virtually everyone and are loaded this year. I'm sure each and every player, including Coach Izzo, are looking to avenge the two blowout losses they suffered at the hands of North Carolina. Michigan State is led by all everything lead guard Kalin Lucas (17ppg, 3.7apg) and a host of other contributors from last season. On the other hand the Tar Heels will rely on a host of complimentary players from last year's National Championship team to win this game. UNC has 7 players that average at least 7 points per game and they've looked surprisingly good thus far given all the talent that fled to the NBA last spring. In their only two big conference tests in this young season Roy Williams' team beat a decent Ohio State team by 4 but followed that up with a sloppy loss to Syracuse (this game was played at MSG though. Virtually a home game for Cuse'). The Tar Heels don't lose too often in the Dean Dome but I expect Michigan State will be more than ready to play. The backcourt matchup will be key and the edge in this department has to go to Michigan State.

ACC Ballers' Pick: Michigan State


Sophomore star Ed Davis went for a career high 22 points as he led his Tar Heels to the 7 point victory. The Tar Heels blocked 8 shots and basically just ran the Spartans out of the gym. Coach Williams ran several waves of players at Michigan State and the Spartans seemed over matched out of the gate. MSU's experience showed in the second half as they were able to cut into the 16 point lead the Tar Heels had in the first half but were never able to get over the hump. UNC blocked 8 shots and generally dominated the paint.

Virginia Tech 70 at Iowa 64 (box score)


In the game nobody will be watching expect Virginia Tech to come out and handle this undermanned Hawkeye team. Iowa lost 4 players that contributed greatly last season (their leading scorer, a point guard, and two others) and it has shown. This team is still playing hard but the Hokies two star players, junior Malcolm Delaney (21.8 ppg) and Jeff Allen will be way too much for Iowa to contend with.

ACC Ballers' Pick: Virginia Tech


The Hokies proved to be too much for an inexperienced Hawkeyes' squad. To Iowa's credit this game was much closer than expected in large part due to Iowa's Anthony Tucker. Tucker scored 24 points in the contest but couldn't lift his team past the Hokies. Guard Malcolm Delaney scored 18 points in the win.

Wednesday - December 2, 2009

Illinois 76 at #19 Clemson 74 - (box score)


Clemson, fresh off of a huge win tonight against #10 Butler, come into this game with plenty of momentum. However, a number of the Tigers' players are under the weather so it will be interesting to see how healthy they are come game time. Illinois started off the season 4-0 before dropping their last two games to Utah and Bradley. Seems like Bruce Weber's proclamation that freshman guard Brandon Paul (11ppg) is like Dwyane Wade might be a bit premature. While Illinois is very experienced and talented Clemson's press should wear them out. This Illini team also hasn't seen an athlete quite like Trevor Booker yet...and he's one of several on Oliver Purnell's very athletic team. Not to pile on but the Tigers are tough at Little John. Their depth should be the difference.

ACC Ballers' Pick: Clemson


Clemson got up early on Illnois and seemingly had the game in hand at halftime. The Tigers were up by 20 until a Illini stormed back in the second half. The Tigers epic collapse was accentuated by shooting 39% from the field for the game. Forward Mike Davis of Illnois finished up with 22 points in the victory.

Minnesota 58 at Miami 63 - (box score)

Tubby Smith has his Gopher's playing well in the early season despite the off the court trouble that several of his players have run into. He's getting great production from his bench in the early season and they already have a big win over Butler. This team is coming off of a tough one point loss to Texas A&M and one can imagine that they will be hungry to return to the win column. Miami has gotten off to a blazing start but they've really not played anyone note worthy outside South Carolina. However the 15 point win over the Gamecocks shows that the Hurricanes can play with big conference teams and I expect them to physically over power Tubby's bunch in this contest. If Miami post player Dwayne Collins can stay out of foul trouble he should dominate this game inside. He bullied his way past South Carolina players earlier this season and he should do the same to Minnesota's front line.

ACC Ballers' Pick: Miami


Freshman Durand Scott scored 20 points for the Hurricanes in this contest and was instrumental in the win. The Canes' dominated the Gophers on the glass and that really was the story of the game. It would have probably helped the Gophers if they shot better than 46% from the line as well.

Boston College 62 at Michigan 58 - (box score)


Michigan has dropped a few games recently to quality opponents (Marquette, Alabama) but don't sleep on the Wolverines. This is a good team and they'll have the best player in the game in 6'5 junior two guard Manny Harris (21 ppg, 9 rpg, 7 apg). While BC has 5 guys averaging double figures they really haven't played anyone of this caliber thus far. It will show.

ACC Ballers' Pick: Michigan


Corey Raji dropped 24 to help BC pull off the tournament resume win in Ann Arbor. Michigan star Manny Harris struggled to find his shot (1-6 from 3 point range) and usually the Wolverines fortunes are tied into how well he plays. BC's Trapani, Raji, and Jackson combined for 29 rebounds and the Eagles out rebounded Michigan by 15.

#5 Duke 69 at Wisconsin 73 (box score)


The Blue Devils, fresh off of a NIT Season Tip-Off tournament championship is 6-0 and have proven that their lack of guard depth will not be a huge hindrance to their success. Coach K looks to combo guards Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer (the two combine to average 35 points a night) to run his offense. When you factor in that Duke might has more size this season than they've had in recent memory and you start to realize it might be pretty difficult to beat this team. Wisconsin brings a ton of great experience into the game due to their decent success (2-1) in the Maui Tournament last week. Trevon Hughes (14 ppg) will be the key if the Badgers are to take this game as he's the only Badger that can put any pressure on Duke's guards with the ball in his hands. (side note: Be on the lookout for the season debut of highly touted freshman Mason Plumlee of Duke. Rumor has it that he could be on the court for the first time all season on Wednesday).

ACC Ballers Pick: Duke


Trevon Hughes dropped 26 on the Dukies in this contest and it was clear that the Blue Devils had no answer for him. Duke's lack of a true point guard seemed to hurt them in this game as they turned the ball over 7 more times than Wisconsin did. In the losing effort Kyle Singler went off for 28 points on 10 of 17 shooting.

Florida State 64 at #15 Ohio State 77 (box score)


Florida State should dominate this team on the glass as Ohio State relies on their 6'7 point guard Evan Turner (19 ppg, 12 rbg) to do all of its rebounding. In fact, Turner averages a full 8 rebounds a game more than the next Buckeye. This doesn't bode well for Thad Matta's bunch. Florida State has an NBA sized front line anchored by seven foot center Solomon Alibi (hit the game winning shot against Marquette in the Old Spice Classic. 11/29/09) and 2008 McDonalds All America Chris Singleton. Ohio State has the more talented guards so if they get hot Florida State will be in some trouble but they'd have to be on fire to win this game, even at home. If FSU takes care of the ball they win simply because they'll grab every rebounds.

ACC Ballers' Pick: Florida State


Ohio State got a combined 47 points from Evan Turner and Jon Diebler in the winning effort. The Seminoles main issue seemed to be the three point shot as they went 2-16 from distance. The 20 turnovers the Seminoles had probably did not help matters either.

ACC Ballers' Dunk of the Week:

Sophomore Bryan Narcisse of Clemson takes off from deep against Texas A&M.

Monday, October 26, 2009

2009-2010 ACC Basketball Pre Season Rankings

Welcome back! It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you, without a....never mind. I'm not Timbaland so I shouldn't recite his lyrics. What I will do is discuss this upcoming ACC Basketball season. There are a ton of changes this season and for the first time in years there really isn't clea cut #1 team in this conference. Even the media at the ACC's Operation Basketball event couldn't decide. Duke and UNC both finished as co-favorites to win the league. Honestly the league is so wide open that neither of these teams could finish atop the ACC standings come the end of the regular season. I guess this is what happens when your conference loses 7 players to the first round of the NBA draft alone. Without further ado here is ACC Ballers' first 2009-2010 ACC Rankings and don't forget to check the new twitter account (@accballers)

1. Maryland

This might be the only place where you'll find Maryland a top any preseason rankings for anything outside of Lacrosse but let me explain. Of the seven ACC teams that made the NCAA tournament year ago only the Terrapins return their starting back court. Greivis Vasquez has made the past two all-ACC teams and came in second in the preseason Player of the Year voting at the aforementioned ACC media event. It's going to be difficult for any ACC team to contend with a 6'6 senior point guard that averaged 17 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists the year before. Better yet for Gary Williams is that he has two starting guards in junior Adrian Bowie and sophomore Sean Mosley that gained valuable experience last season and have proven to be great defenders. Bowie has turned himself into a largely overlooked recruit into a bonafide ACC starter. His 9 ppg and defensive prowess have made him a legitimate ACC starter. Mosley, a Maryland high school basketball legend was expected to come in and provide Maryland with a big, physical wing that can score. What Coach Williams ended up getting was a fearless freshman who constantly made hustle plays when it counted. Mosley's elite ability to defend coupled with his court presence should help him elevate other aspects of his game this season. Furthermore, Maryland brings back four of five starters. The lone starter to leave was the cerebral yet undersized Dave Neal and Gary has brought in two legit big boys in James Padgett and Jordan Williams who should more than make up for his production. All the talk out of Maryland's first few practices and scrimmages are that both bring elements to the front court that the Terps lacked last year.

2. North Carolina #4

The defending National Champions are once again loaded. They bring back two very experienced starters in power forward Deon Thompson and small forward Marcus Ginyard. Thompson started last year and gave Coach Williams valuable minutes throughout the year. Ginyard was sidelined for the majority of the 2008-2009 season but was a full time starter for the Tar Heels in 2007-2008. The strength of this unit is in the front court as they showcase Thompson and projected top 5 2010 draft pick Ed Davis. Davis is a kid of a pro and a pro in waiting himself. He should blossom this year with minutes left behind by Tyler Hansbrough. Tar Heel nation need not worry as ole Roy has another talented Tyler to rely on in 7 foot sophomore center Tyler Zeller. Zeller is as talented as he is skinny (listed at 220lbs, looks 200lbs). He's got excellent touch and has the skills to put the ball in the basket. He was starter last year before he went down with a wrist injury early last season. For any other team it would be ridiculous for me not have mentioned the addition of a 6'10 high school All American small forward but that's how good it is in Chapel Hill recently. The 6'10 future pro I'm speaking of is John Henson from Sickles high school in Florida. This kid was a decently talented guard before he grew 6 or 7 inches in a year or two stint of high school. He will be the Tar Heels starting small forward and his length is going to help Roy out a lot this year. The question mark is at the guard spot where the Heels will have to rely heavily on two 2009 4 star guards in 6'4 Leslie McDonald (#65 overall) and the cat quick 6'3 guard Dexter Strickland (#34 overall). Larry Drew II, son of the former NBA guard, returns as the starter this season and he'll need to be great this year for this team to win it's last game. In reality this is a quality team that could make the elite 8 but might fall short the weekend before. With all of the talent Roy has this year they will at the very least be fun to watch.

3. Duke #8 (Unlike the ACC Media, we don't do ties here)

This year's Duke team will test whether quality is more valuable than quantity. The Dukies return starting point guard John Scheyer and part time starter Nolan Smith. A combo that averaged 23 points a game last year in supporting roles to now departed star guard Gerald Henderson. The issue is that there are no experienced guards behind these two. In fact, there is only one other guard on the roster and he's a freshman. Ok ok, Andre Dawkins is definitely a big time frosh that was top 10 in the class of 2010 but graduated a year early to help out the backcourt. With that said, the real strength of this team, and the reason they're in the #3 slot, is their front court depth. Unlike in recent years, Coach K has assembled a quality stable of big men that should help them dominate the glass. They will go with the very experienced senior forward Lance Thomas and the much hyped high school All-American Mason Plumlee. Thomas is a steady, defensive minded 4 with decent basketball IQ. He is usually in great position on the defensive end and he'll be asked to lead the front court. Mason, brother of current Duke sophomore Miles Plumlee, should really help to bolster Duke's interior defense. The Blue Devils haven't had a shot blocker or even a player who truly disrupts interior shots in years and Mason should finally fill that void. He's got great leaping ability and he's pretty savvy as well. The bench will be solid but the lack of back court depth will come back to haunt them at some point this year. This will probably also lead to an earlier than expected exit in the NCAA tournament.

4. Wake Forest

Dino Gaudio lost two first round draft picks from his starting lineup this summer (Jeff Teague and James Johnson) and still has enough talent left over to finish in the top four in this league. For those that don't know this is an impressive feat. While Gaudio deserves a lot of credit for keeping this unit in tact the reason this team can have such high expectations is the emergence of All-ACC freshman Al-Farouq Aminu. Aminu, now more of a combo forward, has a tremendous combination of height, athleticism, and ball handling skills that proved to be a problem for the majority of Wake's opponents last season. He was rated as the #1 ranked Small Forward in the country coming out of high school in 2008 by several services and he could have been a lottery pick in this past year's NBA draft had he chosen that option. Aminu will most certainly improve upon his very admirable 13 points and 8 board average in his sophomore season. Word is that he's been working on his game at Lebron's camp and that he spent a good bit of the summer doing the same down in Winston Salem. As you might be thinking, one guy alone is not good enough to lead a team to a top 4 finish in this conference. The players Gaudio has in place to compliment Aminu are surely capable. Senior point guard Ishamael Smith and junior two guard L.D. Williams are terrific defenders that can put pressure on opposing ball handlers full court, for 40 minutes. These two played significant minutes on a team that at one point was ranked #1 in the country last season. Nuff said. The front court Gaudio has returning should also keep Wake fans excited this winter. Aside from Aminu, the Deacs return seven foot 235lbs. Chas McFarland (8 ppg, 6 rpg), 2008 Mcdonald's All American Tony Woods and highly recruited seven foot sophomore Ty Walker. This front line should be able to compete with just about every other front line in the country. The only concern this team will have will be it's ability to score. Of the returning players only Aminu put up a double digit scoring average last season. Projected starting point guard Ishmael Smith is more of a true point than Teague was last season and he can really get by his defender but he's not much of a shooter (24% 3 point field goal percentage in 2008-09). Much of the same can be said about Williams as most of his 8 points per game came on breakaway dunks and layups. If highly recruited newcomers Ari Stewart and C.J. Harris can't help in this regard the Deacs will probably experience a few more scoring droughts than desired. Defense is this teams strong suit and they should play it well enough to stay in the top half of the ACC standings this season.

5. Georgia Tech #20

This might be too high for Paul Hewitt's bunch (finished dead last at 2-14 in the ACC last season) but they are talented enough to finish higher, so we had to give the Jackets the nod over Clemson. When you talk about this year's Tech squad all conversations must begin with the two future first round picks they have in the front court with 6'9 junior Gani Lawal and 6'10 incoming power forward Derrick Favors. Lawal is a an athletic freak who could have entered the draft last year. He had work to do on his game (notably free throw shooting and shot mechanics in general) this summer so he decided to spend one more year in Atlanta. For those that don't know Favors was's top ranked player overall in the class of 2009. Favors should come in and put up decent numbers right away as his ability to operate in the low post, defend the post, and overall skill set are well above par for the college level. Fortunately for Hewitt and co. the post is not the only upgrade made to this team over the summer. The additions of the rest of's 4th ranked recruiting class will help stabilize the back court. Hewitt brought i n 3 rivals 4 star guards in point guard Mfon Udofia, wing Glen Rice (son of the former NBA All Star guard that goes by the same name), and Brian Oliver (not related to the former Georgia Tech star by the same name). Udofia is the stud of this group as rivals 6th ranked point guard (32nd player overall in 2009) can really get after it defensively. His superior quickness should have him in the starting lineup sooner rather than later as it will allow last year's All-ACC freshman selection Iman Shumpert (10 points, 5 assists per last season) to move to his more natural shooting guard position. The last two members of this loaded freshman class are pretty fantastic players in their own right. Kammeon Holsey is a 6'8 power forward with elite level athleticism that is yet another ESPNU top 100 player in this class. Unfortunately he will rehab a torn ACL this season. This might work out to his advantage as he will not have to spend his first season backing up the future NBA pros already on Tech's front line. The key for Tech this season will be to reduce their turnovers and use their athleticism to defend at an elite level. If these two goals are achieved there are not many teams in the country, much less this conference, that can compete with them. The aforementioned Shumpert should be primed for a breakout sophomore year and this is what Hewitt's squad will need to really challenge for a top seed in the ACC tournament this coming year. Should be a make or break season for Hewitt as well. If he can't win with this team in this year's ACC a change in regime might ensue. Big year for the Jackets.

6. Clemson #24

Many believe this Clemson team will finish higher (ACC Media picked them to finish 3rd) but I think their previous seasons may have been weighed too heavily in this prediction. Clemson lost two of their top three scorers with K.C. Rivers graduating and Terrence Oglesby deciding to start his professional career early. They still retain All-ACC selection Trevor Booker (15 ppg, 9.7 rbg) in the low post but they lack a consistent second option now that Rivers and Oglesby are no longer providing about 35% of their points. The good news for Clemson fans is that they have more talent this season than ever. 6'9 McDonald's All American Milton Jennings (#26 in 2009 ESPNU top 100) is power forward with range out to the three point line. His addition combined with the 2009 ESPNU top 100 player (ranked 30th overall) Noel Johnson and Devin Booker (Trevor's brother) has significantly enhanced the talent that Coach Oliver Purnell has inside. Johnson was a huge get for Purnell as he was slated to go to USC before Tim Floyd resigned. Johnson is an elite level scorer The back court is in decent shape as well as the Tigers return two year starter Demontez Stitt at the point guard position and a couple of talented wings in 6'5 Tanner Smith and 6'6 David Potter. Backup point guard Andre Young proved that he could run the break in his first season (almost 3:1 assist/turnover ration) and hit the open shot (39% from three). Clemson will finish higher than this if they can get their opponents to play at their pace. The trouble is they might have a difficult time playing at this pace due to their inexperience and lack of a true and proven outside scoring threat. With this said, this team is talented enough to be dancing in March and might be able to sneak in on Selection Sunday.

7. Florida State

Leonard Hamilton, fresh off of a contract extension, is finally directing this program in the right direction. Last year they came within a game of an ACC tournament title and made the big tournament for the first time in years. Unfortunately for Hamilton and the rest of Seminole nation the leading scorer from last season now gets paid to play. That's right, Toney Douglas now plays for the Knicks and he took his 21.5 points and almost 2 steals a game with him. This could pose a huge problem as the next highest scorer averaged under 10 points per game. Hamilton will need to figure out where the offense is going to come from right away. For right now the plan seems to be that the Seminoles will turn to future NBA pro Solomon Alibi. Alibi put up 8 points, 5 boards, and 2 blocks last season but his skill set is far advanced than these numbers would suggest. The 7'1 250lbs center has quality post moves and counter moves that will allow him to be effective down low if the young Seminole guards can get him the ball. Along with Alibi, Florida State looks to former McDonald's All American (08') Chris Singleton to provide rebounding and defensive prowess. Singleton is a long combo forward who can hit the three as well as defend multiple positions. His development will be critical in determining how good this team can be. Another player who falls under this context is 6'4 junior point guard Derwin Kitchen. Kitchen, a JUCO transfer that became eligible for the second semester last season was instrumental in FSU's success last season and will be counted on to build on his solid performance last season. Lastly but certainly not leastis 2009 Mickey D's All American Michael Snaer. Snaer a 6'5 two guard that Hamilton convinced to make the cross country trek from California is a tough nosed big time scorer who will be counted on immediately to provide scoring. This team should battle for a NCAA tournament bid all season and my guess is that they will be sitting on the edge of their seat come Selection Sunday. If Snaer is great, they're in. Anything short of great, their games in Mid March will all be early in the week. In other words they'll be in the NIT.

8. Boston College

Al Skinner returns a very talented team with players like junior forward Joe Trapani (13 points, 6 boards per game) and junior guard Rakim Sanders (13 points, 4 boards per game). The Eagles also return 2 other starters in center Josh Southern and guard Corey Raji, both of whom have established themselves as legit ACC players. The reason for concern stems from the fact they basically lost their best player and by far their most clutch performer in Tyrese Rice. Rice was the go to guy for Skinner the past two years and his leadership will be very difficult to replace. While Sanders and Trapani are very capable of keeping the Eagles in games this year neither have been go to guys on an ACC team before and they are in for a rude awakening. This league is tough and when teams scheme for you scoring becomes that much more difficult. The good news for the Eagles is that they will likely have an all junior starting lineup that could take advantage of the younger teams in this conference. They didn't bring in anyone this year so this team should be able to gel earlier than most. The Eagles will have opportunities to steal games early due to their experience and if they can do that they'll finish higher than this.

9. Virginia Tech

The Hokies are my wild card team this year. Seth Greenberg has two studs returning in junior guard Malcolm Delaney (18 ppg last season) and junior forward Jeff Allen (13.7 ppg, 8rpg). Both of these players have the ability to be top 5 at their respective positions in this conference and should take advantage of their considerable experience this season. The key to this season will be how well the rest of the Hokies play. Big forwards Victor Davila and J.T. Thompson will have to improve on their very modest statistics from last season. These two very talented players only averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds between them. That will not be good enough if they would like to finish higher than 9th. To add some depth Greenberg brought in four freshman this season highlighted by 6'3 point guard Erick Green and 6'3 two guard Ben Boggs. These two players in particular hold the key to Tech's season in my opinion. If Green, who played his senior season in the renowned DC Catholic league in an attempt to ready himself for ACC basketball, can play significant minutes at point guard this season this team will finish higher than this. Better yet, if Boggs lives up to his big time reputation as a shooter and not hinder the team too much on defense this team will be dancing in March. If it takes these players a bit longer to develop the Hokie Pokie will be the only dancing done this season.

10. Virginia

New head man Tony Bennett will bring a new style of play to the Cavaliers and the players ability to adapt will be instrumental to this team's success this season. The Cavaliers return 2008-2009 ACC freshman of the year Sylven Landesberg (16 ppg, 6 rpg last season) and their entire starting lineup. Power forward Mike Scott will be expected to improve on his 10 points and 7 boards a game. No reason to think he won't. 7'0 foot starting center Assane Sene has been playing pick up basketball with NBA pro's like Troy Murphy this summer and word is that he has held his own. Expect to see an improved offensive game (just 2.5ppg last season) from Sene as well. He must be able to stay in games for longer than 17 minutes this season though. The real improvement for the Cavaliers must be made in the back court. Point guard Sammy Zeglinski must be able to keep players in front of him on defense without having to foul and he as well much improve on his very pedestrian 1.2/1 assist to turnover ratio. This season the Cavaliers will have help in that regard as freshman point guard Jontel Evans should at least provide defensive pressure at the point guard spot that has been lacking since Sean Singletary left two seasons ago. The key to this season for the Cavaliers will be how good junior guard Jeff Jones has become. If he has finally regained the form that made him a 4 star guard coming out of high school in Philadelphia the Cavaliers will steal several games in this young conference. If not, the Cavaliers will have to gut out wins just to make the NIT.

11. Miami

This is certainly a rebuilding year for Frank Haith's Hurricanes but that doesn't mean this squad doesn't have talent. Villanova transfer Malcolm Grant is finally eligible and not a season to soon. This talented combo guard will more than likely man the point guard spot this season and should make the loss of sweet shooting guard Jack McClinton a bit easier to stomach for Haith. Along with Grant are forward/center Dwayne Collins and 3/4 forward James Dews, the second and third leading scorers from last season. These two players should build on their success from last season and can hold their own in this conference. This team, while solidly built still lacks the skill level to compete at a high level in this conference. Haith will need major production from incoming two guard Durant Scott (#43 in the ESPNU 100) from the acclaimed Rice high school in NYC. Two other players from Haith's 4 man class that should provide some depth are 6'5 two guard Garrius Adams from North Carolina and 6'8 post Donnavan Kirk from the basketball factory that is Detroit Country Day School (Detroit, Michigan). This team is at least a year away from making any major impact but they do return arguably the league's best athlete in 6'6 guard/forward DeQuan Jones. Jones, a rivals 5 star player in 2008, had his moments last season and will need to have many more this season for this team to compete.

12. North Carolina State

Absolutely a rebuilding year for the Wolfpack and coach Sidney Lowe. This team lost its top three scorers from last season and will rely on junior power forward Tracy Smith (10 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and junior Javier Gonzalez (6.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg) for much of their offense. Outsider marksman Dennis Horner returns for his senior season and should be able to stretch the defense a bit with his ability to connect from the land of 3 (35% from 3pt range last season). Another player who should help the Wolfpack from downtown is 6'6 freshman two guard Scott Wood. Many players have already commented on how well this kid can shoot it and this team will need all the good shooting it can get. This season does not look very promising for the Wolfpack but if this team can gel this season the 2010-2011 season should be very exciting. You see, in 2010 the Wolfpack have the 5th rated recruiting class in the country coming in. This group includes two rivals five star players and one very highly rated guard (Lorenzo Brown, 4 star guard in 2009) set to come to Raleigh.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

ACC Ballers Awards

As most if not all of you already know, Carolina turned in a final four weekend to remember in Detroit this past April as they swept past the competition to win the prestigious National Championship.

Of course, the focus has now been moved to the next part of the season, the part that most coaches hate, the NBA waiting game. There are several players still on the fence about coming back tor another year of ACC ball or playing in the league.

We won't know who is staying or leaving for another month so for now lets take a look back at which players and teams stood out this year.

ACC Ballers Best Team:

North Carolina

ACC Ballers Best Player:

Tywon Lawson, Jr, North Carolina

ACC Ballers Best Pro Prospect:

Al-Farouq Aminu, Fr, Wake Forest

ACC Ballers Best Freshman:

Sylven Landesberg, Fr, Virginia

ACC Ballers Best 6th Man:

Ed Davis, Fr, UNC

ACC Ballers All-Conference:

First Team:

Tywon Lawson, Fr, North Carolina
Jeff Teague, So, Wake Forest
Gerald Henderson, Jr, Duke
Tyler Hansbrough, Sr, North Carolina
Toney Douglas, Sr, Florida State

Second Team:

Greivis Vasquez, Jr, Maryland
Tyrese Rice, Sr, Boston College
Jack McClinton, Sr, Miami
James Johnson, So, Wake Forest
Trevor Booker, So, Clemson

Third Team:

Wayne Ellington, Jr, North Carolina
Kyle Singler, So, Duke
Malcolm Delaney, So, Virginia Tech
AD Vassallo
John Scheyer, Jr, Duke

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sweet 16...Only Duke and UNC left.

After the first weekend of the tournament it has become apparent that the ACC was not as strong as it appeared to be throughout the year. Several teams lost on the first day (Clemson, Florida State, BC) while another team (Maryland) got demolished by a Memphis team that didn't seem to concerned with the match up to begin with (link).

Here are the ACC games up next:

South region:

3/27 - #1 UNC - #4 Gonzaga at 9:57pm

East Region

3/26 - #2 Duke - # Villanova at 9:57pm

Both should be great games.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gerald Henderson is the Dunk Champion and his Duke Blue Devils are ACC Champs!

By unanimous decision (49%) Gerald Henderson has been voted as the best dunk artist in the league by our loyal followers. Henderon has been sensational all year long and perhaps the timeliness of his dunks like this

is what stuck out in the minds of voters. Congrats Gerald.

It's been a long and exciting season in ACC basketball full of interesting twists and turns. Carolina seemed unbeatable early on until Boston College went down to the Dean Dome and knocked them off. Meanwhile a slowly developing back story was the emergence of Jeff Teague and the Wake Forest Deacons. The Deacons won their first 16 games before falling to Virginia Tech at home. The only normalcy during this period was Clemson's hot start. They even routed Duke at home in one of the most lopsided ACC games I have ever seen. In the end though, after the regular season and ACC tournament had been settled, it was the Blue Devils of Duke that came on top. This is how the did it.

Second Round:


9:30pm - #6 Boston College 65 - #3 Duke 66 (box score)

This was close the entire game and tensions grew during the last 5 or 6 minutes. BC's Biko Paris hit a huge 3 pointer with a bit under 5 minutes left to close Duke's lead to 1. The teams would continue to trade baskets but Rakim Sanders' 3 point shot at the end came up short.



4pm - #7 Marlyand 61 - #3 Duke 67 (box score)

The Terrapins gave a valiant effort but in the end John Scheyer was too much for them to stop. The Blue Devils' junior guard had 22 on 6-12 shooting to but Maryland away.

Championship Game:


1pm - #4 Florida State 69 - #3 Duke 79

Duke came out on fire as Singler, Scheyer (29 points), and Henderson went 12-23 from 3 point range. Florida State looked as though they didn't know what hit them. It was well into the 1st half before the Seminoles decided to join Duke in the game but by that point Duke had more than found their rhythm. The score doesn't show how truly lopsided this game was.

All Tournament team:
(1st team)

Duke: John Scheyer (Tournament MVP), Gerald Henderson, Kyle Singler

UNC: Tyler Hansbrough

FSU: Toney Douglas

(2nd Team)

FSU: Soloman Alibi

UNC: Wayne Ellington

Maryland: Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes

Georgia Tech: Lewis Clinch

Final ACC Standings (in conference, overall):

1. North Carolina: 13-3, 28-4
2. Wake Forest: 11-5, 24-6
3. Duke: 11-5, 28-6
4. Florida State: 10-6, 25-9
5. Clemson: 9-7, 23-8
6. Boston College: 9-7, 22-11
7. Maryland: 7-9, 20-13
8. Miami: 7-9, 18-12
9. Virginia Tech: 7-9, 18-12
10. North Carolina State: 6-10, 16-14
11. Virginia: 4-12, 10-18
12. Georgia Tech: 2-14, 12-19

NCAA Tournament Starts up on Thursday and the conference has 7 teams. Should be pretty exciting and we'll get you caught up on the games as they come. Enjoy it!

Monday, March 2, 2009

ACC Balllers: Who is the best dunker in the ACC?

It's that time of the year again. A time to reflect on all the great plays we've seen thus far this year. ACC season is winding down and the tournament looms, why not look back on the best dunks of the season, and determine who the best dunker is.

Here are the rules: I'll show you a bunch of dunks all week long. You'll watch as many dunks as you can and determine which ACC player throws it down the best. Here goes:

1. Gerald Henderson, Jr, Duke

2. Raymond Sykes, Sr, Clemson

3. James Johnson, So, Wake Forest

4. Jeff Teague, So, Wake Forest

5. Trevor Booker, Jr, Clemson

6. James Johnson, So, Wake Forest

7. Al-Farouq Aminu, Fr, Wake Forest

8. Gerald Henderson, Jr, Duke

9. DeQuan Jones, Fr, Miami

(start at the :28 second mark)

10. Rakim Sanders, So, BC

11. Danny Green, Sr, UNC

12. Raymond Sykes, Sr, Clemson

13. Elliott Williams, Fr, Duke

14. Tracy Smith, So, NC State

15. Trevor Booker, Jr, Clemson

16. Danny Green, Sr, UNC

17. Gerald Henderson, Jr, Duke

18. Al-Farouq Aminu, Fr, Wake Forest

19. Jeff Teague, So, Wake Forest

20. James Johnson, So, Wake Forest

21. Gerald Henderson, Jr, Duke

22. Jeff Teague, So, Wake Forest

23. Nolan Smith, So, Duke

24. Rakim Sanders, So, BC

25. Raymond Sykes, Sr, Clemson

26. Al-Farouq Aminu, Fr, Wake Forest

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ACC Ballers: Standings Week

You all have spoken and it seems like UNC's Wayne Ellington is your unanimous choice to shoot the ball with the game on the line. Can't really say I disagree. Yet another reason why the Heels are the most complete team in the ACC.

Another volatile week in the ACC was capped off by a Boston College upset over another Tobacco Road school and a tough win by UNC down in Coral Gables. The ACC season is now in full tilt and a number of developments have taken place over the course of the year. Here are a few tidbits to keep you up to date:

- UNC Senior G/F Marcus Ginyard will miss the remainder of the year. Sophomore F William Graves has been suspended for the remainder of the season.
- UNC Freshman C Tyler Zeller, who was expected to miss the remainder of the year, may return to the lineup as early as Wednesday 2/18.
- Virginia Tech Sophomore F Jeff Allen will be suspended one game (Wednesday at Virginia) for inappropriate behavior after he was fouled in a game against Maryland this past Saturday.

ACC Standings (in conference, overall):

1. North Carolina: 9-2, 23-2
2. Duke: 7-4, 20-5
3. Clemson: 6-4, 20-4
4. Wake Forest: 6-4, 19-4
5. Florida State: 6-4, 19-6
6. Virginia Tech: 6-4, 16-8
7. Boston College: 7-5, 19-8
8. Maryland: 5-5, 16-8
9. North Carolina State: 4-6, 14-9
10. Miami: 4-7, 15-9
11. Virginia: 2-8, 8-13
12. Georgia Tech: 1-10, 10-14

(Name, Class, School, Average)

1. Tyler Hansbrough, Sr, UNC - 21.1 ppg (points per game)
2. Tony Douglas, Sr, FSU - 20.3 ppg
3. Jack McClinton, Sr, Miami - 20.3 ppg
4. Jeff Teague, So, Wake Forest - 20.2 ppg
5. Malcolm Delaney, So, Virginia Tech - 18.6 ppg

(Name, Class, School, Average)

1. Gani Lawal, So, Georgia Tech - 10.1 rpg
2. Trevor Booker, So, Clemson - 8.9 rpg
3. Jeff Allen, Fr, Virginia Tech - 8.8 rpg
4. Alade Aminu, Sr, Georgia Tech- 8.5 rpg
5. Al-Farouq Aminu, Fr, Wake Forest - 8.3 rpg

(Name, Class, School, Average)

1. Trevor Booker, So, Clemson - 2.3 bpg
2. Soloman Alibi, Fr, FSU - 2.1 bpg
3. Ed Davis, F0, UNC - 1.8 bpg
4. (tie) Assane Sene, Fr, UVA - 1.7 bpg
4. (tie) James Johnson, So, Wake Forest - 1.7 bpg

(Name, Class, School, Average)

1. Tywon Lawson, So, UNC - 6.4 apg
2. Tyrese Rice, Jr, BC - 5.5 apg
3. Iman Shumpert, Fr, Georgia Tech - 5.2 apg
4. Greivis Vasquez, So, Maryland - 4.6 apg
5. Jeff Teague, So, Wake Forest - 3.9 apg

(Name, Class, School, Average)

1. (tie) Jeff Teague, So, Wake Forest - 2.1 spg
2. (tie) Tywon Lawson, So, UNC - 2.1 spg
3. Tony Douglas, Jr, FSU - 2.0 spg
4. Jeff Allen, Fr, Virginia Tech - 1.9 spg
5. Danny Green, Sr, UNC - 1.8 spg

ACC Ballers' Performance of the Week....

This week the award definitely goes to UNC guard Tywon Lawson. While leading his team to two road victories against Duke and Miami Lawson averaged 23 points, 4.5 assists, while going a perfect 11-11 from the line.

ACC Ballers' Dunk of the Week....

Clemson Senior Center Raymond Sykes gets big on Syracuse.....

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's been a long time Coming!!!!!...Duke gets the ol' Tiger Stomp at LittleJohn

I know it's been a while but after the the past few week it is time for ACC Ballers to come back. First, lets start off by discussing the massacre at Littlejohn last night. The 10th ranked Tigers of Clemson, for the first time in 22 attempts, defeated the third ranked Duke Blue Devils 74-47. But, this wasn't just a win, this was a hide the women and children stomp out. There were lots of yelling (mainly Clemson players and fans), crying (mainly Duke players and coaches), and silence from the announcers (unfortunately they are Duke fans as well). This game was a track meet from the jump ball on. Clemson got out running and never stopped. I honestly felt bad for Duke because there was nothing they could do. Oliver Purnell had everybody at Littlejohn ready for this game (apparently he even had the student assistants running sprints when they made mistakes in practice) and man were they ever. There was a stretch in the second half where it seemed as though Clemson would simply block a shot at on one end, and dunk on the other. And they yelled every time they did either.

First half demolishing.....

Second half.....

Click for the box score

After a wild few weeks of ACC basketball. Here is a look at the updated Standings.

1. North Carolina (20-2, 6-2)
2. Duke (19-3, 6-2)
3. Clemson (19-2, 5-2)
4. Boston College (18-6, 6-3)
5. Wake Forest (17-3, 4-3)
6. Virginia Tech (14-7, 4-3)
7. Florida State (16-5, 3-3)
8. Miami (15-7, 4-5)
9. Maryland (14-8, 3-5)
10. NC State (12-8, 2-5)
11. Georgia Tech (10-10, 1-6)
12. Virginia (7-11, 1-6)

ACC Ballers' Performance of the Week....

Has to go to UNC's junior two guard Wayne Ellington. On Tuesday against Maryland, the former McDonald's All American went for 34 point on 12-15 shooting from the field (7-9 three pointers) and 9 rebounds in Carolina's 108-91 rout of the Terps.

ACC Ballers' Dunk of the Week...

Has to go to my dude Trevor Booker down in Clemson, SC. This was just raw (Clearly you get points from ACC Ballers' for yelling after a dunk. We believe in hype here).

Monday, January 19, 2009

ACC Ballers: Wake Forest in the driver's seat....

Over a month ago we asked our ACC fans who they thought would win the ACC Regular Season crown. At that point Carolina had been rollin' and it didn't seem like they could be beat. Might explain why 40% of the votes went to the Heels. Even fans of rival teams thought there was no chance that anyone could come out on top of Carolina. As the saying goes, I guess thats why the play the games.

One thing that has become apparent in the last week is that in this conference you have to play at a high level for 40 minutes if you expect to win each game In addition you have to be willing to get give the same effort night in and night out. At the midway point in the 08-09 College Basketball season Wake Forest is the only ACC team to sustain this effort as they ran past #6 North Carolina (Sun. 11th) and #9 Clemson (Sat. 17th). Their reward: Being ranked the #1 team in all of College Basketball. While everyone from Al-Farouq Aminu to James Johnson have played well the catalyst for this climb up the rankings is the lighting quick and explosive sophomore guard Jeff Teague. Teague has averaged 29.2 point per game in his last 4 games and absolutely carried the Deac's in the Sunday night game against the Tar Heels. Teague's line against UNC looks like this: 34 points, 15-17 from the line, 6 boards, and 4 assists. He simply made the plays that Coach Gaudio needed, each time he needed them. Teague's combination of speed, skill, and basketball IQ compliment the rest of the tall, skilled, and athletic players the Deacon's feature. Aminu and Johnson looked like NBA prospects as they were able to handle the ball and finish in the open court on Clemson at will. The Tigers had no chance in this game because Wake was better at doing what Clemson does best, full court man to man press. This is an example of Al-Farouq's athleticism:

and another big time dunk by the big time 6'9 small forward....

Wake Forest simply had better athletes with a higher skill level then Oliver coach Oliver Purnell's Tigers. That's usually tough to overcome.

ACC Ballers Performance of the Week:

North Carolina shooting guard Wayne Ellington at home against Miami: 23 points on 8-14 shooting from the field, 7-11 from behind the arc. Take a look....

ACC Teams in the ESPN\USA TODAY TOP 25 (4 in the top 9):

1. Wake Forest
2. Duke
6. North Carolina
9. Clemson

ACC Ballers Dunk of the Week:

Hands down this is the dunk of the week. No questions asked. Miami freshman phenom Dequan Jones is big time.

(the first play is of Jones throwing a shot into the stands. the last play, starting at the 1:11 mark, is at this point the dunk of the year in the ACC)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

ACC Ballers: Recruiting Spotlight

Ben Golliver of recently took in a the 2008 Les Schwab Invitational (Dec. 26-30) in Hillsboro, Oregon where he had a chance to scout two high school seniors, Renardo Sydney and Sherrod Wright, who have been on the ACC radar for a couple of years. Renardo is a 6'10 250lbs 5 star forward prospect (ranked #10 in the class of 09' by from Los Angeles, California via Mississippi. Sydney lists USC, UCLA, Mississippi State, Arizona State, and Virginia as possible college destinations for the 09'/10' season. Sherrod Wright is 6'3 a 3 star shooting guard prospect from Mount Vernon, NY. Wright is being recruited by Wake Forest, Virginia, Xavier, Georgia Tech, and Pittsburgh. If you can remember, Ben wrote a piece for us about Kyle Singler just before he started playing for Duke and apparently his high praise was right on. This is what he has to say about these two:

Renardo Sidney (link)

Renardo Sidney is a great talent and will be an impact freshman. Once you get past his NBA body (and his NBA quickness for his size) there’s a lot to like and a few concerns.

Sidney’s Fairfax team regularly uses him at the high post, where he is able to turn and face anywhere from 18 to 21 feet out. It is here he seems most comfortable. Sidney has big hands and great vision, and he often holds the ball shoulder-height or higher looking to hit cutting teammates or to throw a skip pass if the defense overcommits. His passing was the most surprising aspect of his game: his passes were regularly on the money, in the right places for easy catches and finishes and almost always with only one hand. Whether he will be able to continue to do this with a college and/or NBA ball is an open question but it is a dominating skill to possess in high school.

Sidney can also shoot it from the high post and in both games I watched stepped back to launch high-arcing three pointers. His form is very good and the ball often snapped twine. From outside he was content to catch and shoot in rhythm or perhaps take one dribble to find his shot… he is not overly active in driving the ball from outside or working through multiple moves to get his perimeter shot. This should serve him well. When bigs mess around like that they end up getting stripped in college.

Sidney’s high post location on offense led to a lot of crashing of the glass and with neither one of the opposing team’s able to match his mass, he simply dominated when he put in the effort. With big leads in both games, Sidney coasted more than you would like, often not chasing offensive boards at all. It remains to be seen if effort (and his weight) will be his undoing.When Sidney did post up on the low block, he displayed a number of nice finishing moves, including a finger roll and some vicious dunks. He has a refined drop step move and was a very, very quick elevator; he was very efficient around the hoop and didn’t mess around with unnecessary dribbles or missed shots from point blake. He also did well to avoid player control fouls, which is difficult for a guy his size.

On defense, he stayed much closer to the rim and accounted for most of his team’s defensive rebounds. He got beat backdoor for a dunk because he cheating trying to ball-deny a pass to the high post. He showed the kind of weakside help you would expect from someone his size, and had a few block shots, although most of the opposing guards were not too keen in testing him.

One other note: he threw a number of great outlet passes, one a three-quarter court bounce pass that hit a runner in stride. Thing of beauty. Sort of a Black Kevin Love, to put it crudely.

In the final assessment, I expect to see him in the NBA sooner rather than later. I think he is a good candidate to go one and done and will have high expectations next season. He had an annoying habit of getting down on his teammates, scowling and carrying on when they would miss a shot or fail to catch a pass, which hopefully will get coached out of him in college.

Sherrod Wright (link)

Although I saw Sidney twice, I only saw Sherrod Wright play once, in his Mt. Vernon team’s semifinal matchup with Dominguez High (the eventual tournament winner, beating Fairfax in the final). Like Sidney, Wright was named to the all-tourney team (Sidney was MVP) but unlike Sidney his play did not have the same “wow” factor.

Wright plays wing on a guard-dominated team that works extremely hard on both ends of the court. Wright is definitely the tone-setter and came across as a focused individual. On offense, he seems to favor his pull-up jumper, which he hit with less regularity than you would like given how often he shoots it. His stroke had a hitch to it occasionally and as currently constructed will not cut it in the NBA. I also got the feeling that he relies on his pull up j because he doesn’t have the first step to beat quality wings off the dribble. He was locked up pretty well by Dominguez’s Robert Mandingo (yes, you read that right) and never attempted more than a move or two (he showcased a sweet compact spin move early in the first half) to free himself. Part of that was his playing within the offense, which is definitely something you like to see from a star player in high school. He also drew his fair share of fouls due to the ball being in his hands so often because he is his team’s go-to player.

Wright crashed the boards relentlessly and had a number of put-backs (including a dunk), tips to his teammates and the like. His hustle game is straight. When he did get some space in traffic, he showed quick elevation for a powerful dunk. He has an impressive vertical leap but didn’t unveil it as much as the crowd was hoping for.

Some of his points came from the defensive end, where he played passing lanes well, showed great on-ball technique and came away with a few steals. His intensity ran over on one play when he was whistled for a technical foul for reaching across the baseline trying to contest an inbound pass. Wright struggled a little bit bringing the ball up in transition when he was guarded (he got blocked on one break out and a turnover on another) but did coast for at least 2 uncontested breakaway layups/dunks off of steals. He also played the pick and roll defense very well, jumping out to force a long route for the point guard while not fouling (difficult for high school kids against quick guards).

Wright has a nice frame (6’4” almost 200) that should fill out with an additional 10-15 pounds of muscle in the next few years, which will serve him well in college. I was not totally enthralled with his game and my first instinct is to say he probably doesn’t end up making the league. But that should be taken with a grain of salt: I saw him once and he was playing against an excellent Dominguez club that has a stockpile of quality guards. Wright has the work ethic and competitiveness to do big things.

- Ben Golliver, Blazer's Edge

Next Up:


Noon - Georgia Tech (9-5, 0-1) at Maryland (11-3,0-0) Espn Full Court
Noon - NC State (9-2, 0-0) at #11 Clemson (15-0, 1-0) Espn Full Court,
2pm - #2 Duke (13-1, 1-0 at Florida State (13-2, 0-0) Espn
4pm - Virginia (6-4, 1-0) at Virginia Tech (9-5, 0-1)
7pm - Miami (11-3, 0-1) at #24 Boston College (13-3, 1-0) EspnU


8pm - #3 North Carolina (14-1, 0-1) at #4 Wake Forest (13-0, 0-0) Sun. Night Hoops