Family Tree

Player of the Week

Jerian Grant, Notre Dame

Jerian GrantJerian GrantExcellent team chemistry, great coaching, unselfishness, and sharp perimeter shooting can all be considered factors in the success that the Fighting Irish have seen this season; but the leader of the team -- without question -- is senior guard, Jerian Grant. Grant's the top playmaker in the conference, averaging 6.4 assists per game (more than a full assist more than Tyus Jones, who's currently second with 5.1). He's also one of the top scorers, averaging 16.7 points on 51.2% shooting on the season. Somehow, he's managed to take his game up another notch as of late, averaging 20.5 points on 73.7% shooting (4/7 from three, 9/10 from the stripe) along with 7.0 assists in two Notre Dame wins this past week. Grant's most valuable traits are his ability to penetrate and his intelligence. His teammates all seem to thrive off the ball (spotting up, in particular), and lean on Jerian's ability to create for them. Grant's decision-making here is what separates him from other guards. I'm willing to bet that he could lead the conference in scoring if that was his prerogative, but it's clear that he'd rather give up a good shot for a better one. This trust he displays in his teammates shows itself on the stat-sheet through the good shooting and low turnover (3.5 assists per turnover, also highest in the ACC) numbers. From an NBA perspective, there's a lot to like about Grant. The scoring and playmaking combination is there, and at 6'5" 200+ lbs, he has the size and athleticism to defend either guard position well. His outside shooting ability leaves something to be desired (33.7% on 4.5 attempts per game), but with improvement there, he could be a starter at the next level. Look for him to land somewhere in the first round this summer.


Jamel Artis, Pittsburgh

The Panthers have needed a primary scorer all season, and it looks like Jamel Artis has started to assume that role. The 22-year-old sophomore averaged 20.5 points on 58.9% shooting in two games this week, tying his career high with 20 points on Saturday against Georgia Tech, and setting a new one on Monday at Duke with 21. Pittsburgh has a roster full of excellent complementary-type players, though they need somebody that can put the team on his back and get some points on the board when needed. Michael Young has been the Panthers' top scorer this season, but is still only averaging 13.5 points per game. Many expected senior Cameron Wright to ascend into that role, but he still appears to be more comfortable being a more passive player. This is why Artis being more assertive is so important to the team. He has the athleticism to be a very tough matchup for opposing forwards through the rest of the season, and head coach Jamie Dixon seems set on giving him more scoring responsibilities. If his emergence isn't just a mirage, Pittsburgh may be more competitive than people considered this season.

Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia

Malcolm Brogdon is probably one of the most under-appreciated players in the ACC, despite being one of the most important pieces on one of the top teams in the nation. Brogdon had a nice week, averaging 16.5 points (61.1% shooting, 4/8 from downtown, 7/8 from the line), 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and only 1.0 turnover. Really though, I'm not including him here because those numbers are so far off of his season averages of 13.6 points (45.6 FG%, 37.7 3P%, and 84.3 FT%), 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.4 turnovers; rather, to reiterate that he's continuing to do everything well. He'll make open jump shots, score at the rim, find open teammates, set screens, take care of the ball, make free-throws, and play excellent defense. When James Anderson shot 0/8 from the field against Boston College earlier this week, Brogdon stepped up and scored a season-high of 20 points. Great teams are composed of players like Malcolm Brogdon, who are willing to put the team before themselves, but can play bigger when needed. Malcolm's not the NBA prospect that others are, but he'll be just as important during a postseason run.


Justin Anderson, Virginia

Well, he had to come back to Earth sometime. Following a prolonged two-month long hot streak, Justin Anderson is starting to show signs of slowing down. The breakout Junior only managed to average 7.5 points on 20.0% shooting from the field, and 16.7% shooting from outside in his last two games. This off-week has dragged his three-point shooting percentage all the way down to 52.7% (yeah, that's how good he's been). It will be interesting to see how Anderson bounces back. Some players try to shoot themselves back into rhythm and others let the game come back to them naturally; I'd consider Anderson the latter. He's more high-efficiency than high-usage, averaging 14.3 points per game on a mere 9.3 shot attempts, and versatile enough that he can be an asset to the team even when he's not shooting well. After all, the Cavaliers are good enough defensively (giving up fewer points per game than any team in the nation) that they can remain competitive until their top scorer gets rolling again. Anderson won't want to wait too long though, as it will be hard for Virginia to remain undefeated through the next couple weeks (games against Duke, UNC, Louisville) with their best offensive option in a slump.

Top 5 Bigs in the ACC

1. Jahlil Okafor, Duke - I've covered Okafor at length in this blog, and I'm not sure there's much new to cover. He's leading the conference in scoring (18.6 PPG), field-goal percentage (67%), and he's fourth in rebounding (8.9 RPG). He's the only freshman among the top-ten leaders in any of those categories. Pretty good, I guess.

2. Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse - I've also discussed Christmas on numerous occasions. He's an excellent defensive anchor in the Orange's zone (2.1 blocks per game), and has become one of the best scorers in the ACC, averaging 18 points per game. Is he the most improved player in the conference? It'd be hard to argue otherwise.

3. Zach Auguste, Notre Dame - Auguste may not be a classic post player, but he has been extremely effective this season as the only big in Notre Dame's starting lineup. Averaging 13.7 points on 64.7% shooting, Zach has taken full advantage of the Fighting Irish's floor spacing. He's been limited recently due to academic issues, but scored 16 points in 20 minutes on Thursday against Virginia Tech.

4. Kennedy Meeks, UNC - Only a sophomore, Meeks is already one of the most efficient players in the conference. He's averaging 12.8 points (on 59.5% shooting), 8.4 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks in only 22.5 minutes per game. Losing nearly 50 lbs in the offseason has surely proven to be a wise decision. There's a lesson here for any potential athletes: It helps to be in shape.

5. Devin Thomas, Wake Forest - The Demon Deacons are only 1-4 in ACC play, but they can't blame their star Junior for that. Thomas is averaging 12.9 points and 9.8 rebounds on the season, and has had a double-double four of his five games since conference play began.

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