Player of the Week
I'll do Barnes and the rest of Tar Heel nation a favor by not mentioning what happened in Florida State a week and a half ago (they lost by 33 points... whoops), but will say they recovered nicely by defeating the Hokies at Virginia Tech by a score of 82-68. Harrison Barnes was the biggest reason for the quick turnaround, as he scored a season-high of 27 points -- nine of which during a decisive 19-0 second-half scoring run by his team. The super sophomore is in the midst of a season that has seen his numbers improve across the board. He was criticized for his poor efficiency last season, as 42.3% shooting from the floor and 34.4% shooting from behind the arc were mediocre for somebody who would have been considered at the very top of last year's draft. This year he's shooting 48.4% from the floor and 43.6% from outside. These stark contrasts stem from several different factors, including his higher confidence, improved shot-selection and tighter handle. It's clear he put a lot of work in during the offseason and it's really playing off. This is scary to think about, but he still has a lot of room to get even better. It's no wonder he's considered a lock for the top-five during this year's draft.
While center Reggie Johnson was recovering from an ACL injury sustained over the summer, transfer student Kenny Kadji was breaking out for his team. The 6'11" junior left Florida for Miami, and is receiving enough minutes to show off the impressive ability that he has. He collects a lot of rebounds and blocks due to his size alone, and has a surprisingly refined offensive game. Kadji is averaging 12.4 points per game (54.9 FG%) and 5.6 rebounds on the season. He also has impressive range for a player his size, having made 12 of his 26 three-point attempts on the season (46.2%). Logic may have suggested that Kadji would become an after-thought with Johnson's recent return to the team, but Kadji is hotter than ever; averaging 20.5 points on 53.3% shooting from the field. His size, mobility and shooting ability seem to complement his teammates well, and if he continues to thrive, you could hear his name in draft conversations a year from now.
After exploding out of the gate, the 7'1" freshman has appeared to run himself directly into a wall. Len averaged 13.5 points on 77% shooting during his first four games, taking the conference by storm. In his last four games however, he's only averaging 2.0 points per game on 25% shooting from the floor. You can tell he's not in the best shape (justifiable considering he missed Maryland's first ten games of the season), and it adversely affecting his ability to run the floor and play defense. He's picking up a lot of cheap fouls trying to guard the size of the ACC, and consequently hasn't seen a lot of floor time. As if he wasn't struggling enough, he suffered an ankle injury during his zero point performance at Temple on Saturday, though he is expected to play against Duke on Wednesday. Len is obviously a big asset for head coach Mark Turgeon, especially when playing against a team with talented bigs like the Blue Devils. If he can stay out of foul-trouble and play like he did during his first four games, this could be an upset in the making.
Top 5 ACC Prospects (Updated):
1. Harrison Barnes - North Carolina possesses a hoard of exciting NBA prospects on their roster, but Barnes leads them all. He's a complete package with an NBA-ready body and the work-ethic to get better. Barnes is potentially a future go-to scorer for an NBA team, and will be a major factor during crunch-time.
2. Austin Rivers - High-volume, ball-dominate scoring guards aren't as in-vogue as they were a few years ago (unless you're the Kings, Wizards or Warriors), but Rivers could be a good one. He's got an ultra-smooth jumper and the quickness/handle combination to get anywhere he wants to on the court.
3. James McAdoo - 5.4 points on 41.4% shooting doesn't usually scream top-ten pick, but McAdoo is in a special circumstance. He's being limited to 13.7 minutes a game, playing behind two likely all-ACC bigs. Still, he has an NBA body with NBA athleticism and can do a lot of things at a high level.
4. John Henson - He's still skinny and awkward-looking, but John Henson has potential. He’s already considered a bubble-lottery pick by most and I can really see his draft-stock rising during the measurement/athletic testing period. He's currently averaging a double-double with 14.5 points and 10.1 rebounds.
5. Ian Miller - You have to be a pretty damn good athlete to be considered a potential lottery-pick point guard while averaging less than one assist per game, and that's exactly the case with Miller. We should get a chance to see his point guard skills next season, as Luke Loucks, Deividas Dulkys and Jeff Peterson will all graduate from Florida State this year.
Dexter Strickland is done for the season after he suffered a torn ACL during UNC’s win over Virginia Tech. Reggie Bullock is expected to start in his place, and Stilman White is expected to take over the backup point guard position ... Virginia center Assane Sene injured his ankle during a win at Georgia Tech and is expected to miss about six weeks ... Virginia Tech upset the Sene-less Cavaliers on Wednesday by a score of 47-45. Senior Sammy Zeglinski shot 0/7 from the floor in the loss, after shooting 0-8 during Virginia's loss to Duke a little over a week ago ... Duke's 45 -game home winning streak came to an end on Saturday after Michael Snaer hit a buzzer-beating triple to give his team a 76-73 win ...
You say Austin Rivers has an "ultra-smooth jumper?" Are you watching with your eyes closed? There is nothing smooth about his jumper. The only thing good about his jumper is he has a fairly quick release. I'm a huge Duke fan and glad Austin is on the team but your description of his jumper is way off. Saying he has a decent jump shot would be more accurate. JJ Redick, Ray Allen, Peja Stojakovic are smooth shooters.
Looks like he wasnt brought in to just raise the team GPA.