Well, Well, Wendell

Player of the Week

Wendell Carter Jr.

Wendell CarterWendell CarterWhile teammate Marvin Bagley draws most of the attention of the star freshman on the Blue Devils, Wendell Carter is the one who's stepped up the most recently. Unlike many of the Duke teams in the past, this year's squad features a team that dominates in the paint rather than relying on the perimeter game on offense. The bigmen tandem of Bagley and Carter has established Duke as one of the best offenses in the country despite the change in style from year's past. Have two dominant big men can be difficult to manage in terms of being able to play both at once. That being said, the versatility of Bagley and Carter is what separates the Blue Devils from the rest of the pack. When looking at Carter in particular, his well polished post game and passing from the top of the key is why he's perhaps the X-factor for Duke's success. With the recent uptick in minutes, Carter has been producing at a much better clip.

Averaging 25.9 minutes per game, Carter received 30+ minutes in each of his last two games. Back up center Marques Bolden has been sidelined with injury, which means that Duke's thin bench has gotten thinner. Carter has been known to be a little inconsistent on defense, also prone to getting into foul trouble early on in games. Playing more cautiously, Carter has only gotten called for two fouls in the last two games. But Carter isn't playing safe, rather he is actually playing smarter. Carter swatted three shots versus Pitt and two against Wake Forest. His rebounding has also stayed consistent, snatching up eight boards in the 81-54 blowout win over Pitt. He followed that up grabbing 12 rebounds during the 84-70 road victory at Wake Forest. While neither team is having successful seasons, Carter is beginning to get in the groove as Duke is entering the meat and potatoes of its schedule. Carter's scoring this past week has been both efficient and effective. In the Pitt game, Carter made nine out of 10 shots and scored 21 points. At the conclusion of the win against Wake Forest, Carter tallied 23 points on only 9 attempts, which was largely in part of his proficient 10 of 13 at the charity stripe. All in all, it's crazy to think that the former No. 5 player in the country is currently serving as a complimentary piece on offense for the Blue Devils. Nevertheless, his importance cannot be taken for granted, as Duke will need him to step up when his number is called upon.

Who's Hot

Terance Mann

Florida State has been better than expected this season, after losing players such as Jonathan Isaac, Dwayne Bacon, and Xavier Rathan Mayes to the NBA. In fact, it doesn't really appear that the Seminoles even lost a step from the previous despite the departure of its three best players. One of the issues with Florida State last year was that there was almost too much reliance on the top players. There was a clear drop-off in talent and the role players didn't appear ready to take on heavy minutes. Head coach Leonard Hamilton had the task of reloading and getting his team ready to compete, and he's done a great job of doing so. Terance Mann is the highest returning scorer from a season ago, and his hard work is beginning to pay off of late. Currently seventh in the ACC in points per game, Mann is now the go-to option on offense. Florida State didn't fare so well starting conference play, as they immediately hit the difficult part of the schedule. Now that's out of the way, Mann and the rest of the team are are hitting their stride and beginning to produce victories again.

Last week was a joyous one for the Seminoles, as they were able to earn two conference wins over Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Mann was efficient in the victory over the Hokies. He scored 12 points on seven shots from the field, and went a perfect four out of four from the foul line. It was the following game where Mann really got in a rhythm. He enjoyed a career night against Georgia Tech, scoring 30 points while shooting an absurd 76.9% from the field. He also was able to provide significant help in other areas as well, dishing out five assists and collecting five rebounds, too. By far his best collegiate game, the Seminoles are hoping Mann can maintain his high level of play for the rest of the season, with the aspirations of dancing in March.

Who's Not

Bryant Crawford

Wake Forest has been a train wreck this season after coming off a tournament appearance. Despite losing John Collins to the NBA, it appeared that the Demon Deacons had enough pieces returning to make another tournament appearance. That being said, the team is a dead man walking at this point, as they are 1-7 in conference play, and losers of their last six games. Bryant Crawford hasn't taken his game to the next level like many people thought he would entering his junior year. While his stats look okay, his level of inconsistency has been a cause for concern for Wake Forest. Crawford has his flashes of brilliance, as he is clearly a talented player. The roller coaster of a campaign he's experiencing has clearly been detrimental to Wake Forest's season.

To be fair, Wake Forest had to face Virginia and Duke during its last two contests, which is a difficult task for any team regardless of record. In 33 minutes, Crawford had a lackluster 11 points, four assists, two rebounds, and two steals during the loss to Virginia. The stats weren't an issue in this game, rather it was the fact that he shot 4 of 12 from the field and coughed up the ball six times to the defense. Crawford made only two field goals, en route to 10 points during the loss to Duke. His assist and rebound totals dropped from the previous game, and he turned the ball over eight times.

Top 5 ACC Player of the Year Candidates:

1) Marvin Bagley III

It's safe to say Bagley made the right decision in reclassifying and joining a loaded Duke team. While there are other All-Americans on the Blue Devils' roster, Bagley has been by far the best of the bunch. His combination of size, length, leaping ability, and motor make him the most dominant big man in the ACC. He is virtually unstoppable when it comes to rebounds, and is a force to be reckoned with in the interior. The most important thing to note, Duke is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation and has a record of 18-2. If the voting committee is rewarding both victories and individual stats, then Bagley is the unanimous ACC Player of the Year frontrunner as it stands today. He is likely to run away with this award, yet let's look at four others who deserve recognition.

2) Tyus Battle

Sophomore Tyus Battle is the definition of a bucket getter. Last year, he wasn't really able to shine for Syracuse, as head coach Jim Boeheim was asking Battle to do other things on the court. With the departure of many key players from a year ago, Battle has the green light to score whenever the opportunity presents itself. Possibly the most improved player in the ACC, Battle has been shattering expectations. Averaging 20 points per game, Battle scores in an array of ways, whether it's stroking it from behind the arc or taking it to the rim. He's also a more than capable defender in the infamous 2-3 zone Syracuse runs. While not the greatest passer or rebounder for a guard of his stature and athleticism, Battle has made a name for himself as one of the premier scorers in the ACC.

3) Luke Maye

After stepping up huge during North Carolina's championship run in the tournament run last season, Luke Maye is showing the country that his play was not a fluke. Standing with a record of 16-5, UNC is starting to come on as of late. Maye is averaging 18 points and 10.4 rebounds per game for one of the most storied programs in college basketball history. While he is not extraordinarily quick or athletic, he's make for it with effort and a high basketball IQ. Maye's game is reminiscent to Kevin Love. Maye plays an in-and-out game on offense, meaning that he's capable of scoring in the post as well as stretching it out and shooting from the perimeter. While Maye isn't the greatest of rim protectors, he's able to get good position and crash the glass at will, maintaining the rebounding prowess that UNC has had in previous seasons.

4) Bonzie Colson

An unfortunate ankle injury has Bonzie Colson sidelined for eight weeks; otherwise, he would definitely be higher on the list. It's hard not to feel bad for the senior who has come a long way since his freshman year. It's worth noting that he was having a career year, as he's currently averaging 21.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, and 2.0 steals. The numbers alone are impressive, but it's the intangibles that stand out the most when it comes to Colson. His motor is uncanny, and his leadership qualities have helped Notre Dame get through rough patches during his time with the team. Colson is extremely versatile, as he can play all five positions on either of the court on the college level. His athleticism and size aren't physically opposing, yet every team facing Notre Dame has to key in on him in order to have any chance of winning.

5) Ky Bowman

It was really difficult to decide whom to put in this spot between Ky Bowman and teammate Jerome Robinson. While Robinson is the better scorer of the two, Bowman is the one who gets his teammates involved and engaged on both ends of the court. Boston College has been a pleasant surprise in the ACC this season. Head coach Jim Christian has his team looking like a tournament team after being the bottom-feeders in the ACC last year. Looking at Bowman, he's does everything you want a starting point guard to do. He's a great leader despite being a sophomore. On top of that, he goes after it on both ends of the floor, and is able to rebound the ball and lead the fast break. Bowman is able to score at will, and is a tough-shot maker who is ready to step up when his number is called upon. He's does a great job in distributing the rock and getting all his teammates involved in the offense. As long as the Golden Eagles can keep up the good work, expect Bowman to remain in the converation for ACC Player of the Year, or at the very least first team all conference.

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