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ACC Blog

Player of the Week

ACC Blog

Player of the Week

ACC Blog

Player of the Week

Jeff Allen

ACC Blog

Player of the Week

Nolan Smith

Nolan SmithNolan SmithMuch has been said about Nolan Smith during this season. Ever since Kyrie Irving's injury, Smith has been the primary ball handler for the Duke Blue Devils, and in doing so, he's dispelled any concerns about his ability to play the point guard position at the college level. In fact he’s even put himself in contention for the National Player of the Year award. He's leading the ACC in both points per game (21.5) and assists per game (5.5), a feat that has never been done before in the ACC. This past week, Nolan Smith also showed that he can get it done when it counts. Against their arch-rivals, the North Carolina Tar Heels, Smith helped Duke rally back from a 14 point halftime deficit to win the game 79-73. Smith scored a career-high 34 points (22 in the second half) on 13-23 shooting. Duke needed this kind of performance from him, as teammate Kyle Singler was struggling from the field (only 10 points on 3/17 shooting). This shows the kind of leadership ability that Nolan Smith has. His knack for stepping up in big games will serve Duke well in March, and his well-rounded skill-set will certainly place him in 1st round discussions as we approach the draft season.

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Jeff Allen

Jeff Allen continues his strong play. Outside of Malcolm Delaney he is the most important player on the Virginia Tech roster. He's a strong low-post scoring presence (13.2 PPG), an active and aggressive rebounder (10.0 RPG) and a solid defender (1.3 SPG, 1.0 BPG). In fact, Allen is the active ACC leader in career steals, rebounds and double-doubles. In his last four games, Allen has averaged an impressive 19.0 points on 53.4% shooting and 13.0 rebounds. That includes a 25 point, 19 rebound outburst in a loss against Boston College last week. The fact that the Hokies lost the game, despite Allen's performance actually showcases a lot of their weaknesses. They don't have much of a bench (0 points off the bench), they depend too much on Allen, Delaney and Erick Green and their lack of outside shooting (Delaney was the only player who made a three). These issues, coupled with injuries might end up keeping Jeff Allen and his team from reaching the NCAA tournament yet again.

ACC Blog

Player of the Week

Harrison Barnes

Harrison BarnesHarrison BarnesThe pre-season consensus top overall NBA prospect in college basketball is finally producing, and he's doing it in a big way. We've already seen his clutch heroics propel North Carolina to the upper echelon of the ACC standings over the last few weeks. He made the late triple that put the Tar Heels in the lead against the Clemson Tigers, scored 8 points in the final few minutes in a victory against Virginia Tech and then hit the game-winning three against Miami with 6.6 seconds left. That's a handful of ACC magic. This week, there has been no need for his sweaty late-game touch, as he's putting the Tar Heels in the lead by comfortable margins. The Black Falcon (sick nickname, by the way) is averaging 25.5 points (61%) in only 26 minutes in his last two games, with 6 rebounds per, just to add to good measure. He's been utilizing skill (step-back jumpers and catch-and-shoot opportunities) with hustle (put-backs and fast-break points) to produce like many of us expected him to before the season started. His court demeanor is rock-solid, and he hasn't had to resort to selfishness to put points on the board. On top of all this, his defense has been superb. He shows great intensity and good fundamentals. He makes mistakes on this end of the floor, but the effort he puts into closing out and crashing the boards give him a lot of potential in this area. Confidence is obviously a factor for Barnes, and you could tell by seeing the huge smile on his face for the duration of last Saturday's game against North Carolina State. If he can keep his confidence up, then he turns into one of the most potent weapons in the ACC and North Carolina becomes a much better team.

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The Other North Carolina Tar Heels

The Black Falcon has been putting in work, but he isn't the only one. After all, it takes a team effort to beat the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Boston College Eagles by a combined 52 points. Let's start by looking at Kendall Marshall, who recently replaced the struggling Larry Drew II (Drew left the program on Friday, possibly due to playing time concerns) in the starting lineup. Marshall is second in the ACC in assist/turnover ratio at 2.4. UNC is undefeated since Marshall has been starting, and even though his statistics don't jump out at you, Marshall is a very talented playmaker who fits in well with the Tar Heel’s starting lineup. Then in the frontcourt, is Super Noodle Boy John Henson. Henson had a career game against North Carolina State with 16 points, 16 rebounds and 7 blocked shots. Henson's ridiculous length, agility and bounce help make him the top shot blocker in the ACC (3.0). He teams up with 7'0" center Tyler Zeller to make the Tar Heels the best rebounding team in the conference. The two are slight-of-frame but mobile enough to beat opposing frontcourts in transition and long enough to challenge shots around the rim. North Carolina's roster matches up well against the rest of the ACC, but this week they will be tested. They face Florida State at home on Sunday and then play at Duke on Wednesday. These two games should be very telling. Don't miss 'em.

ACC Blog

Player of the Week

Iman Shumpert

Iman ShumpertIman ShumpertLess than a week after crowning Iman Shumpert my ACC Co-Player of the Week, he goes and gives statisticians everywhere hand cramps with a triple-double explosion in last Tuesdays victory over Virginia Tech. On Tuesday, Georgia Tech was hosting a game against a very good Virginia Tech opponent. They were coming off a loss at Virginia, but had won their two previous home games against North Carolina and Wake Forest in an impressive fashion. I'll let the 6'5" junior tell the rest of his story with his unreal stat line of 22 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and 7 steals. Shumpert also took control of one of the best scorers in the ACC, Malcolm Delaney, holding him to a season low 8 points on 3 of 11 shooting. Shumpert also forced Delaney into 8 turnovers. With Delaney getting eaten alive, the Hokies didn't stand a chance, falling 72-57 to the suddenly respectable Yellow Jackets. Shumpert still has his weaknesses. His efficiency/shot selection is questionable, and his attitude has been considered a red flag by some. The potential is there though. He has good size with long arms. He's quick, explosive and powerful enough to be effective on both ends of the floor. If he can put it all together then he'll be a great NBA prospect.

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Ryan Kelly

Whether you choose to include Kyrie Irving or not, there is no denying that Duke's backcourt is one of the strongest in the nation. Nolan Smith, Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins along with hybrid forward Kyle Singler give Duke a great chance to repeat as national champions this season. However, they have a weakness and it's the overall depth of their frontcourt. The Plumlees are athletic and doing some things well, but alone they can't make up for the departures of flop-wizard Lance Thomas and lumberjack Brian Zoubek. Where, oh where will they find a little depth? Enter 6'11" Ryan Kelly, the skinny sophomore sharpshooter who's suddenly becoming a very helpful role player for Coach K and the Blue Devils. His averages on the season are very modest (18.7 mpg, 7.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg) but recently he's seen a great improvement, averaging 28.3 minutes, 15 points and 6 rebounds a game in his last three games. He's been very efficient during this period, shooting 84% from the floor and 80% (8/10) from behind the arc. What Kelly does on the offensive end is open up the court. A big man with such a potent shooting stroke requires attention, which gives Dawkins, Smith and Singler more space to penetrate. Defensively, Kelly's length provides a good shot-blocking presence (1.6 blocks in 18.7 minutes a game). Overall, Kelly is becoming more important than we thought he would be earlier in the season. He's been a pleasant surprise for Duke, and they surely hope he can continue to make a significant impact.

ACC Blog

Co-Players of the Week

Glen Rice Jr/Iman Shumpert

Iman ShumpertIman ShumpertNo, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are not a good team. In fact, they rank among the Mike Scott-less Virginia Cavaliers and the ACC-bomination Wake Forest Demon Deacons at the bottom of the barrel. That's why I'm so impressed they managed to win their last two games against North Carolina and Wake Forest by 20 and 35 points respectively. Now for a team that came into the week with a 7-8 overall record, that's not too bad. Hardly bad at all, I would say. All (and I mean ALL) credit goes to the scrappy duo of Glen Rice Jr and Iman Shumpert. Glen Rice Jr. has always been a favorite of mine. At this point in his collegiate career, he's a radical role player (hey, I just watched Brink!, alright?). His shooting ability isn't off the charts, but he's adequate enough to be the best shooter on his team. He's also a talented defender, an unselfish passer, he runs the floor well, and rebounds at a high rate for a 6'5" guard. He's a jack of all trades. His partner, junior Iman Shumpert, is playing just as well. This season, he leads his team in points per game (16.4), rebounds (5.5), assists (3.4) and steals (2.6). Though his stats on the season are good, both he and Rice turned it up a notch. Bam! (I'm watching too much TV.) In their two wins this week, Rice and Shumpert have combined for, get this, 47.5 points a game on 63% shooting. It's hard to lose when your two best players put up those kind of numbers. Provided neither player declares for the draft this season (and they would be wise not to), the future of the Yellow Jackets isn't all too bleak.

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Erick Green

Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen get a lot of credit for the success of the Virginia Tech Hokies, and rightfully so. However, there's another player on the team who should also be getting recognition for his play this season, and that's sophomore Erick Green. At the beginning of the season many people pegged Virginia Tech as the second best team in the ACC and a top 25 team in the nation, but things were looking down after a 4-4 start in a tough non-conference schedule. Due to injuries, Erick Green was named the starting point guard against Penn State, despite only scoring 2 points in his previous game. Since he's been named a starter, Green has scored double digits in all nine games and the Hokies have a 8-1 record during his tenure as a starter. On the season, the 6'4" guard offers another solid scorer (10.4 points per game), another ball-handler to pair with Delaney (2.2 assists) and a great in-zone defender (2.1 steals). He's coming off a career high 24 points on 12 of 16 shooting in a 17 point win at Maryland. Green is a fantastic role player, and he's helping the Hokies play at the high level that we all knew they were capable of.

ACC Blog

Player of the Week

Reggie Jackson

Reggie JacksonReggie JacksonThe Boston College Eagles hit a rough patch last week, losing to Rhode Island and Harvard. However, they've won each of their last two games and the man responsible is Reggie Jackson. Jackson has lead the Eagles to wins over Georgia Tech and North Carolina State this week, averaging a red-hot 27 points per game on... wait for it... 77% shooting! That kind of efficiency is almost unheard of for a combo guard, even if it is only over a week-long period. To top it off he's also shooting 93% (14/15) from the stripe and 67% (6/9) from beyond the arc. It's nothing new for Reggie Jackson (who I've already featured as Player of the Week once before), as on the season he's averaging 19.5 points on 56% shooting (49% from three), 4.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists. Jackson combines a (newfound) great shooting stroke with his potent penetration ability. He's not a pure point guard, but he's a good passer (especially in drive and kick situations). He's a solid defensive player due to his quickness, athleticism, strength, and length. How Boston College fares during the rest of the conference play will largely rest on Jackson's shoulders. He won't shoot 77% the rest of the year, but he's got the scoring ability to put a lot of pressure on his opponents.

ACC Blog

Player of the Week

ACC Blog

Player of the Week

Chris Singleton

Chris SingletonChris SingletonThe Florida State Seminoles are looking like the second best team in the ACC this season, and a large portion of their success goes to the remarkable offensive improvement of 6'9" forward Chris Singleton. The past two seasons Singleton has been held back by a poor shot-selection, an inconsistent jumper and an abysmal free throw shooting percentage. This season he's managed to boost his three point shooting percentage from 29.7% to a very respectable 38.8%. Even more impressively, he’s raised his free throw shooting percentage from 49.6% to 76.8%. Singleton is taking full advantage of his newfound shooting ability; not by taking more jump shots, but by forcing the defense to play closer to him. This gives him the opportunity to use his outstanding quickness and athletic ability to attack the basket more aggressively, awarding him with more free throw attempts (an area he conveniently doesn't suck at anymore). Defensively, Singleton is still the same player. He uses his length, athleticism, strength, instincts and tenacity to force the opposition into tough shots. In his Christmas Day game against Baylor, Singleton did a fantastic job limiting Perry Jones to 4 points and 4 turnovers in 31 minutes. Singleton is rebounding and blocking shots at a very high rate for someone who projects to be a wing player at the next level. He's also second in the ACC at steals with 2.4 per game. Chris Singleton was a likely first rounder last season as a defender/athlete, and his willingness to work on other areas of his game is something that an NBA team in the lottery could fall in love with.

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Miami (FL) Hurricanes

Miami is playing Duke this Sunday, so this is their chance to prove that they mean big business. I like the makeup of their roster, and while I don't believe that they are the best team in the ACC, I do believe that they are capable of putting a nice scare into the team that has yet to be scared this season. Miami has a strong backcourt with Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott to go along with a LARGE frontcourt with Reggie Johnson and Adrian Thomas. Miami's only loses this season have come from quality teams (Memphis, Rutgers, Central Florida), and they project to match up well against ACC competition. Expect Miami (FL) to enter the postseason (in a few months) on a high note.

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