Player of the Week 

Brandon Ingram – Duke (F, Fr., 6-9, 190, Kinston, NC)

Ingram is getting more confident and comfortable with each passing game. As a result, he’s starting to consistently fill up the box score and showcase why he was highly touted coming out of high school and regarded as a top-5 pick in next year’s draft. The 6-foot-9 freshman scored 20-plus points for the third consecutive game while leading Duke to a 99-65 victory over Georgia Southern on Dec. 15. He finished with an outstanding stat line of 26 points and 14 rebounds, both season-highs, to go along with two assists, two blocks, and one steal. He shot 9-for-13 from the floor, 2-for-4 from the 3-point line, and went 6-for-9 from the free throw line. 

It was Blue Devils first game without senior and high-energy forward Amile Jefferson, who is recovering from a fractured foot and is out indefinitely. Jefferson averages 11.4 points and a team-leading 10.3 rebounds per contest. Coach K asked his team to collectively step up and make an impact on the glass in Jefferson’s absence. With that, Ingram was shifted from small forward to Jefferson’s power forward spot. He then it upon himself to up his physicality and hit the boards hard with the help of his exceptional length. Of his 14 rebounds, eight of them were offensive. 

Aside from showing his worth on the glass, Ingram also displayed his elite athleticism and defensive prowess on several highlight-reel plays. With 19:26 left in the second half, the freshman came up with a timely steal on the perimeter before taking the ball coast-to-coast and throwing down a thunderous one-handed dunk through contact. Later in the second half with 4:00 to go, Ingram received a pass in the left corner, took two hard dribbles toward the baseline line past his defender and rose above the rim for a vicious two-handed jam on fellow freshman Shawn O’Connell of Georgia Southern. At first, the play was called an offensive foul to the dismay of Ingram, his teammates, and all the Cameron Crazies in attendance. But after review, the referees reversed the call and the Blue Devils went up 87-56 – well on their way to a seventh straight win.

Ingram is averaging 24.3 points on 63 percent shooting, including 55 percent from the 3-point line, and 9.3 rebounds over his last three games. 

Who’s Hot?

Michael Young – Pittsburgh (F, Jr., 6-9, 235, Duquesne, PA)

Young led the Panthers to a wire-to-wire 84-51 win over Eastern Washington on Dec. 11. The junior forward scored a team-high 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting, dished four assists and grabbed four rebounds in 24 minutes. Two nights later, Young scored 20 points in a 72-62 victory over Morehead State. He shot 4-for-8 from the field, was 12-for-13 from the charity stripe, and added six rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes. After teammate Jamel Artis tied the game 15-15 on an and-one free throw, Young went on a personal 10-0 run to help the Panthers establish a lead in the first half before eventually running away with things in the second. Pitt extended its win streak to four games with the victory.  

Zach LeDay – Virginia Tech (F, Jr., 6-7, 235, Dallas, TX)

LeDay was impressive in Virginia Tech’s easy 88-53 win over Lamar on Dec. 13. The junior forward went 8-for-12 from the floor for 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. He was one of six Hokies to reach double figures scoring in the game – the first time that’s happened this season. He put the ball on the floor and finished through contact consistently and was able to crash the boards with reckless abandon. He also ran the floor hard in transition and finished at the rim with easy layups and an aggressive two-handed dunk that got the crowd off their feet. LeDay brings great energy to the game and his physicality is a major plus when he goes after rebounds.  

Devin Thomas  – Wake Forest (F, Sr., 6-9, 255, Harrisburg, PA)

Thomas had a big night for the Demon Deacons in their 81-71 win over UNC Greensboro on Dec. 15. He finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and two steals while matching his career highs with five blocks and five assists. He shot 5-for-6 from the floor. Despite those numbers, he did shoot just 8-for-17 from the free thrown line. After the game, Thomas acknowledged that his free throw shooting has improved a lot. However, he chalked his struggles to the fact that he’s "thinking too much" and "not doing my normal routine." On the season, he’s attempting just under 10 free throws a game but is shooting just 59 percent. Look to see if he can improve that mark as the season goes on and ACC competition approaches.  

Who’s Not?

DaJuan Coleman – Syracuse (C, Sr., 6-9, 255, Jamesville, NY)

The biggest question heading into this year surrounding Coleman was if he was able to stay healthy. So far, he’s played in each of the team’s first 12 games to start the season. However, his on-court production hasn’t been up to par with what Syracuse expected from him if fully healthy. The 6-foot-9, 225-pound senior has been serviceable and takes up space in the paint but doesn’t provide much on the offensive end. He’s averaged just 4.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game this season. In the Orange’s recent 84-72 loss to St. John’s on Dec. 13, Coleman finished with four points and three rebounds after scoring 10 points in each of the previous two games. Syracuse has won without needing much of anything from him and has insurance in 6-foot-8 freshman forward Tyler Lydon, who averages 10.2 points and 7.4 rebounds in 27.0 minutes per game off the bench as Coleman’s replacement. But it would help if Coleman could contribute more offensively and give the Orange a post presence in the starting lineup.   

Caleb Martin – NC State (G, So., 6-7, 215, Mocksville, NC)

After eight straight games of scoring 11 or more points, including a season-high 21 points on two occasions, Martin has gone through a mini shooting slump in his last two outings. In NC State’s 65-46 win over USF on Dec. 13, Martin went 1-for-10, including 1-for-7, for three points in 34 minutes. In the Wolfpack’s 76-73 victory over High Point three nights later, the sophomore guard scored four points on 2-for-6 shooting, including 0-for-4 from the 3-point land. Martin has been brilliant for the Wolfpack in the early part of the season. He’s tied for second on the team in scoring at 14.1 points per game despite coming off the bench. His recent shooting struggles haven’t cost NC State in their last two games but expect him to bounce back this upcoming week and continue to be their most potent scoring option off the bench. 

Top 5 Small Forwards in the ACC

Michael Gbinije – Syracuse (F, Sr., 6-7, 200, Richmond, VA)

Gbinije has played primarily as a point guard this season for the Orange, but he’s really a small forward. That just goes to show how his versatility and skill set fits multiple positions. In a nutshell, Gbinije has forward-like size with guard-like skills. He handles/distributes the ball really well and has made leaps and bounds as a leader. On offense, if he’s not attacking and putting pressure on defenses in the paint, then he’s making the game easier for teammates by creating scoring opportunities for them – whether it’s driving and kicking out to the perimeter or making drop off passes to bigs. Gbinije displays good athleticism, especially in the open court, and his size makes it tough for small guards to defend him when playing the role of facilitator. He’s active on the defensive end and will make for a potential three-and-D player at the next level. But of course, he’s capable of giving a team much more with his guard skills.

Justin Jackson – North Carolina (F, So., 6-8, 200, Spring, TX)

Jackson is a tough matchup for whoever guards him thanks to his deadly in-between/mid-range game. He’s smooth, always in control, and LOVES to make use of his floater, which he constantly gets over the heads and arms of bigger defenders in the paint. Jackson has natural scoring abilities and can fill it up of he gets hot or has a great matchup. He’s proven to have an exceptional feel for the game and high basketball IQ, especially when he’s handling the ball in the pick-and-roll. While he’s shown that he can score from all three levels, its remains to be seen if he can do it on a consistent basis. For the most part, that means drastically improving his 3-point shooting. Defensively there are some concerns, but he has the potential to grow into an adequate defender with hard work.

Brandon Ingram – Duke (F, Fr., 6-9, 190, Kinston, NC)

Ingram is one of the most talented players in the country and boasts a ton of potential as projected top-5 pick in next year’s draft. He started this season a bit slowly but has really come on as of late. Although he’s listed a small forward, the freshman can also play the four when the Blue Devils go small. Either way, his skill set combined with his length creates mismatch problems on a nightly basis regardless of who’s guarding him. On a team with several players who are capable on the offensive end, Ingram might already be the best of the bunch at creating for himself and his teammates. He certainly opens up a lot of opportunities for his teammates because he uses his high-level athleticism, length and quickness to attack the defense and score from different parts of the floor. In other words, this kid commands a lot of attention. 

Jaron Blossomgame – Clemson (F, Jr., 6-7, 220, Alpharetta, GA)

Blossomgame is a versatile small forward who thrives at stretching the floor with his 3-point shooting (currently shooting 42 percent from deep). He shoots a high percentage overall (52 percent) because he takes and makes good shots. He isn’t a player who forces bad shots and he plays within the offense. He’s a run and jump athlete who does everything well, and it shows in his production. His ability to score efficiently from all over the court gives defenders headaches. He’s very effective in traffic around the rim and is a physical player. Blossomgame isn’t afraid to mix it up in the paint. He’s rebounds the ball well because of that. 

Michael Young – Pittsburgh (F, Jr., 6-9, 235, Duquesne, PA)

Just like most guys on this list, Young is interchangeable at the small and power forward spots. He is effective in the post and on the perimeter when it comes to scoring and defending. He has a high skill level that is aided by his ball-handling, allowing him to get to his spots and create offense consistently. Young has a good frame and plays strong defense. The Pennsylvania native gives the Panthers their best chance to win on any given night against the ACC’s best.


  1. Cat Barber

     No love for Barber. I’d risk on a late first rounder on him in this class. He can always create an open shot for himself.

  2. Cat Barber

     No love for Barber. I’d risk on a late first rounder on him in this class. He can always create an open shot for himself.

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