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The ACC failed to match its golden standard last season, finishing 4th in conference RPI. With the addition of three Big East stalwarts, a vengeful return to prominence appears obligatory. The league has five teams situated in the Preseason top-25, and three inside the top 11. From an individual standpoint, the depth of talent is strong; not necessarily overflowing with surefire lottery selections, but a saturation of future draftees.
1. Duke Blue Devils
Key Departures: Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly
Imagine being a freshman basketball player at a high profile Division I school. During your freshman year you've played sparingly. You've played a total of 125 minutes, most of which in the first seven games of the season, and in arguably the biggest game of your program's history, at least in the last decade or two, your coach gives you the signal to check into the game. Your task? Try and stop a consensus First Team All-American, Big 12 Player of the Year and eventual #5 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Last year's freshman class was considered to be lacking in star power and depth. Nevertheless, five were chosen in the lottery, with eight one-and-done players being taken in the 2013 NBA Draft. Anthony Bennett received the call as top pick, making it four consecutive freshmen chosen first overall and six in the last seven drafts.
Star power is abundant at the top of this year's freshmen class and there are a number of lottery hopefuls. This crop of incoming players might be the deepest since those eligible for the 2008 Draft.
Our first look at an extended mock lottery with the season about a month away. We will update this with our first full mock draft around the start of the season. You will remember last November we went out on a limb putting Cody Zeller first, over higher rated players on many pundit's lists such as Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad. After a somewhat disappointing season, Zeller didn't end up going first, but he did go fourth and ahead of those two.
Wayne Selden, 6-5, 225, SG, Kansas, Fr.
Selden was the most impressive player and prospect at adidas Nations. "Mature" is the best way to describe his game, as both his demeanor and skill level are very advanced for a player entering his freshman season.
A lot can change in a year. Don’t believe me? Ask the Kansas Jayhawks. Last season, this was a veteran squad led by four seniors and an eventual NBA lottery pick in Ben McLemore. All five players have moved on leaving the Jayhawks with a young, albeit talented, roster. It will be up to the younger guys to step in and fill the void, both from a production and leadership standpoint.
Dante Exum, a 6-foot-6 combo guard from Australia, is one of the top prospects on the NBA horizon. A stress fracture that forced him out of the adidas Nations event threatened to derail his momentum, but Exum bounced back in a big way at the Under-19 World Championships in Prague following the 2013 draft.
The FIBA Under-16 European Championships concluded last week in Kyiv, Ukraine, and a number of intriguing talents have emerged for the next generation as NBA prospects.
The African team featured its best group of talent ever at this event, competing in every game and winning third place. Here is a look at the top international talent from adidas Nations.
Sidy Ndir: 6-2, 180, PG, West Coast Academy, HS Senior, 1995