Rant Sports NCAAB Season Preview: Top 10 Breakout Candidates-ACC

By Jared Mintz

As part of our college basketball preview here at Rant Sports, we take a look at some of the top candidates to have breakout seasons in the ACC. There are a ton of players with a lot to prove, as well as a bunch of up-and-comers who showed signs of breaking out last season.

Here’s Rant Sports NCAAB Season Preview: Top 10 Breakout Candidates-ACC:

1. James Michael McAdoo – Forward – North Carolina

McAdoo was UNC’s prized freshman last season, and didn’t really have the big season the Tar Heels were hoping for, but he definitely came into his own during conference play and towards the end of the season. McAdoo averaged close to 12 points per game in the NCAA Tournament, and without John Henson and Tyler Zeller in front of him, all of the big man minutes (and touches in the paint) will belong to him. McAdoo has a big body, but is incredibly smooth and deceptively athletic. He went to UNC to be the next great Roy Williams big man like Sean Mays, Tyler Hansbrough, and Zeller, and this year we’ll start to see him breakout. The Heels will go as far as their star sophomore takes them.

2. C.J. Leslie – Forward – North Carolina State

It’s almost unfair to call Leslie a breakout candidate this year, because he really had a terrific sophomore (and freshman) campaign, but this could be the year he wins ACC Player of the Year. Leslie had a terrific ACC Tournament, and played three fantastic NCAA Tournament games against top competition, averaging 16.5 points and 8.2 rebounds in six postseason games. Leslie was named Second-Team All-ACC, and led the Wolfpack in scoring and blocked shots, while also finishing second in rebounding. N.C. State will be a top-three team in the ACC this season, and Leslie has a chance at being the conference’s best player.

3.Michael Snaer – Guard – Florida State

Snaer led the defending ACC Tournament champions in scoring, as well as  minutes, three-pointers, and free-throw percentage, and has to be a favorite for ACC Player of the Year. The former McDonald’s All-American will have the opportunity to lead a roster loaded with young and rather inexperienced players, and try to put the team on his back to contend in what will be a competitive ACC, no doubt. Snaer drastically improved in just about every statistical category last season, and the same is expected for his senior year.

4. Lorenzo Brown – Guard – North Carolina State

As good as C.J. Leslie was last season, Wolfpack point guard Lorenzo Brown was about as important to the team’s late season run as anyone. Brown dropped 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament against San Diego State, displaying poise, vision, and clutch shooting for a full 40 minutes. Brown led the way for his team all season, leading the ACC in steals and finishing second in assists, while being named third team all-ACC. He might just be the best point guard in the conference with Kendall Marshall out of his way, and will team with Leslie this season to scare the wits out of in-state neighbors UNC and Duke.

5. Seth Curry – Guard – Duke

With Austin Rivers moving onto the NBA, this is Curry’s year to flourish for the Blue Devils. Curry’s skill set is perfect for Mike Krzyzewski’s offense, as he’s deadly from outside and has gotten better every year at getting to the tin and moving the ball. Between Curry, Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton, and freshman Rasheed Sulaimon, Curry stands the best chance of being the featured guard in a rebuilding year for Coach K. With Rivers gone, Curry should end up taking more than the 9.9 shots he averaged a game last season, and if he can continue to shoot at around 42% (if not better), he’ll definitely surpass his 13.2 points per game average, and be one of the more important players for the prominent Devils.

6. Travis McKie – Forward – Wake Forest

McKie has started every game for the Demon Deacons since his freshman season, and put up an impressive 16.1 points and seven rebounds per game last season. As a junior, McKie will probably see even more playing time, and have better scoring opportunities with C.J. Harris and Cody Miller-McIntyre tearing up the back court. McKie had his three worst games of last season against UNC, N.C. State, and Florida State, three tough teams in the interior, and will have a lot to prove this year with some of the powerhouse forwards gone. McKie’s as deadly from three as he is in the paint, and with his size, toughness, and athleticism he’s one of the more dangerous forwards in the ACC.  Jeff Bzdelik‘s bunch has a bit more talent this year, with McKie and Harris creating a sleeping one-two punch in the conference.

7. C.J. Harris – Guard – Wake Forest

In what was a disappointing year for the Demon Deacons, Harris was the ACC’s fourth leading scorer and looks to pick up where he left off in 2011-12. Harris won’t have much (really any) veteran help this season outside of the aforementioned McKie, but he’ll share the back court with highly-touted freshman point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, and will make for one of the more formidable back courts in the conference. If Harris can show Miller-McIntyre the ropes, and continue to force the tempo on opposing defense, he could potentially lead Wake Forest to a pleasant surprise of a season. I didn’t want to pick two Deacons considering they have a lot of room for improvement, but Harris’ scoring ability just cannot be overlooked.

8. Ryan Anderson – Forward – Boston College

Not only was Anderson named first-team all-ACC freshmen, but he led the Golden Eagles in both scoring and rebounding, becoming the eleventh freshman in ACC history to lead his team in both categories. Anderson averaged 16.5 points and 9.8 rebounds over the last six games of the season, and he repeatedly showed a knack for hitting 3’s with the same consistency that he hits the offensive boards. BC is returning four starters (all sophomores), and Anderson is undoubtedly the leader of the crew. He may not make many headlines outside of the conference, but he will make an all-ACC team this season.

9. Erick Green – Guard – Virginia Tech

The only reason you may not know the senior’s name is because he’s played for a team that won 4 of 16 conference games last season. The only second-team all-ACC member to return to the conference this season, Green led the Hokies in both scoring (15.6) and assists last season, and with six of the team’s top ten scorers returning, Green could potentially lead Virginia Tech to the middle of the pack in the conference as a best-case scenario. First-year coach James Johnson will be lucky to have Green running the show for his team, because he’s not going to have much else.

10. Shane Larkin – Guard – Miami

The Hurricanes are returning three formidable seniors in Durand Scott, Kenny Kadji, and Reggie Johnson, but it’s their sophomore guard Shane Larkin who’s the one worth keeping an eye on in 2012-13. As a freshman, Larkin put up 7.4 points, 2.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and a team-high 1.6 steals. Larkin showed signs of breaking out, going for 16 points, eight boards, and five assists against the eventual ACC champs, Florida State in the ACC Tournament, and showed tremendous poise throughout the season averaging a cool 86% from the charity stripe.  He’s just 5’11, but Larkin plays every possession on both ends like it’s his last, and the First-Team All-ACC Freshmen will undoubtedly continue to shine in his second season.


For hoops, hip-hop, and other random commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth

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