Player of the Week
I don't know how many of you foresaw the Virginia Cavaliers cracking the top-25 AP rankings this season, but it actually happened last week. Point guard Jontel Evans, sophomore Joe Harris and sharp-shooter Sammy Zeglinski are all doing their part in this unexpectedly strong start to the season, and deserve their due credit. However, there is little doubt that the MVP of the 11-1 Cavaliers (currently the best record among ACC teams) is super-senior Mike Scott. The star power forward for Virginia has been particularly hot as of late, averaging 22.3 points per game over the last week, including a 33 point outburst against Seattle on Wednesday. In fact, he's scored a total of 50 points in his last two games, in a combined 52 minutes. More impressive than that, however, is his efficiency over his last five games. Scott is shooting 81.0% from the floor in the month of December. That is not a typo. He's made 34 of the 42 shots he's taken this month. He's also made both of his three-point attempts and 84.8% of his free-throws. With these kind of numbers, it's no wonder the Cavs are surging. While he can't play like this forever, Virginia seems like they could be just as competitive of a team in conference play this year. They have great size, good depth and a ridiculously efficient double-double machine in Mike Scott. They'll play at home against Miami on January 7th, and then get tested at Duke on the 12th.
Glen Rice Jr
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets won't be very intimidating to anybody in the ACC, but Glen Rice Jr. is quietly having season that teams should be taking note of. The 6'5" guard (and son of former NBA all-star, Glen Rice) is averaging 20.0 points on 56.5% shooting with 10.5 rebounds in his last two games. He's primarily been known as a defender during his career at Georgia Tech, but with Iman Shumpert having left for the NBA, we're getting to see Rice take on more scoring responsibility. What's really impressive is that this new role hasn't changed the way he approaches the game. He hustles, plays hard, attacks the glass and is a dynamic defender regardless of whether he's the first option on offense (like this season) or just a role-player off the bench (like in his freshman campaign). So regardless of how successful his team is over the next two seasons, you should expect to hear Rice's name in NBA draft discussions. There will always be room for players like him on a roster.
What does it say about a team when their first option on offense is scoring an average of 12.4 points per game on 38.7% shooting? Michael Snaer was expected to replace the offense that Florida State lost when Chris Singleton entered the NBA draft, but has struggled adjusting to his new role. Outside of transition play and spot-up shooting, he hasn't been effective at putting the ball in the basket. On the bright side, he's been superb defensively and his Seminole team still figures to compete in the ACC. They simply need a scoring threat, and despite his early-season woes, Snaer still has that potential.
Top 5 ACC Three-Point Shooters
1. Scott Wood - He isn't as renowned nationally as some of these other guys, but NC State's Scott Wood can definitely shoot the basketball. He leads all qualified ACC players in both three-point percentage (49.2%) and three-point field goals made per game (2.8). He can pull up for an effortless jumper from five or six feet beyond the arc and still shoot the ball efficiently. He's also made every one of his free-throws this year (25/25).
2. Andre Dawkins - What makes Duke such a dangerous team is their prowess on the perimeter and Dawkins is a big part of that. Though he's been benched recently in liu of Tyler Thornton, Andre has been lighting it up from outside; shooting 43.9% from behind the arc on 5.2 attempts per game.
3. Seth Curry - As with the aforementioned Andre Dawkins, Seth Curry is a pure shooter that will not hesitate if left open from the outside. While he's been acting as more of a distributor lately, his skills are best utilized in spot-up situations, as he's a 43.2% three-point shooter.
4. Reggie Bullock - He's at times overshadowed by Harrison Barnes (who's a pretty damn good shooter himself), but Bullock is a very important player for the Tar Heels. With a backcourt of Kendall Marshall and Dexter Strickland, North Carolina really needs a sharp-shooter coming off the bench to supplement the poor shooting ability of their staring duo. Bullock provides that service by hitting 2.0 threes per game at a 42.6% clip in only 18.0 minutes a game. Impressive.
5. Malcolm Grant - Grant is a volume shooter, who isn't afraid of hoisting up 11 or 12 triples a game. His perimeter efficiency is down from 42.3% a year ago to 38.4% so far this year, but I attribute that to Reggie Johnson's absence, as having such a threat in the post creates opportunities for Grant on the outside. Don't be surprised if his numbers creep up, now that Johnson is back.
Miami's athletic forward DeQuan Jones scored seven points and pulled down six rebounds in 18 minutes during his season debut on Thursday ... Maryland has somehow managed to win their last four games, and suddenly possesses the fifth best record among ACC teams (7-3). Not bad for a team that many (including me) expect to finish near the bottom of the standings ... It was a pretty boring week as far as the ACC was concerned ... Hope everybody had a Merry Christmas! ...