10 Players Flying Under the Radar in the ACC
ACC Understated Players
With so many big names in the ACC, like Mason Plumlee and James McAdoo, it is easy for other very good players to be overlooked. There are plenty of players flying under the radar in the conference either because they are on a poor performing team, or they have been overshadowed by other teammates. In a season with so many evenly matched teams in the conference some of these players could make the difference between a win and a loss. In some cases, as we’ve seen in the past, it can just take one remarkable performance to carry an entire team over a superior opponent. Especially come tournament time these are the players that can give their team an edge.
Most teams prepare for the schemes of their opponent, and the tendencies of their opponents’ best performers. This creates a window for an “under the radar” player to thrive. An unexpected performance is what carries 12 seeds over 5 seeds in the NCAA tournament, or lets a team like Florida St. defeat Duke and North Carolina on its way to an ACC championship. In a league where one game can end a season for a team, these are the hidden gems that make the difference.
Surprise performers emerge when have been on the bench behind a star player and are just getting their first opportunity to prove themselves, and in other cases it is just purely developing with age. These 10 players will have great seasons in 2012-13, and could help lead their teams to some noteworthy wins.
No. 10 Dennis Clifford, Boston College
The 7-foot sophomore center should have a breakout season on a Boston College team lacking scoring options. Yes Ryan Anderson is a phenomenal scorer, but Clifford should be able to step in as the second option, and own the post. Also with 3 blocks in his 2012-13 debut, look for Clifford to step up defensively, and use his size. He needs to work more diligently to box out for rebounds this year, which would help his rebounding numbers.
No. 9 Robert Brown, Virginia Tech
Brown is a sophomore guard playing alongside standout guard Erick Green. He will be somewhat overshadowed by Green who is a true scorer, but Brown will get his opportunities to facilitate the Hokies offense. Also Brown thrives from behind the arc and will getting plenty of looks from downtown.
No. 8 Kammeon Holsey, Georgia Tech
At first glance Holsey appears to be an undersized forward, but it is his length that helps him make plays. The junior forward has not had stellar numbers in the past, although he will produce and get his minutes increased. If Holsey wants to be a starter this season he will need to out perform freshman forward Robert Carter. It should be interesting to see how the battle at forward plays out at Georgia Tech.
No. 7 Jarell Eddie, Virginia Tech
Eddie is a bit small for a successful rebounder, but he has proved that he can sufficiently grab boards. He plays inside and out, and is able to make shots from long range. Eddie could be a key for the Hokies this year, on a team with good guard play. Right now Eddie is averaging 13 points per game through two victories, and I would expect to see this number increase as the season progresses due to his ability to knock down 3-pointers. At 6’7” it will be difficult for wing defenders to contest his shot.
No. 6 Akil Mitchell, Virginia
It’s difficult to stand out when you play on a team with a sensational scorer like Joe Harris, but Mitchell has managed to hold his own. As a junior this will be Mitchell’s year to prove his worth. He is the best post option for Virginia on either end of the court and will see a lot of minutes in the 2012-13 season. He is active on defense contesting shots, and has a great feel, and timing, for rebounding.
No. 5 Shane Larkin, Miami
Larkin is an undersized guard at 5’11”, but he makes up for it with his fantastic quickness. Larkin can penetrate on just about any defender which helps him set-up his teammates for open shots. He is a true point guard, and has been used as more of a scoring option due to the suspension of teammate Durand Scott. We will have to wait and see if Larkin will still be used as effectively, as Scott returns after their next game.
No. 4 Kenny Kadji, Miami
Kadji is an ideal size for a post presence at 6’11” and 240 lbs. Playing alongside fellow senior Reggie Johnson has kept Kadji out of the spotlight for much of his collegiate career as Johnson has been a more consistent rebounder and post scorer. This season Kadji will have a more significant role for the Hurricanes, and he should have a double-double almost every game. With many teams focusing on stopping the hefty Johnson in the paint, look for Kadji to capitalize on opportunities.
No. 3 Nick Faust, Maryland
An incredible athlete, with a scorer’s instinct, Faust will prove himself to be one of the best scorers in the ACC. He doesn’t have great shooting ability from 3-point range, but can create a shot for himself from anywhere inside the arc. He goes full throttle all game, beating opponents down court in transition, and chasing loose balls. Faust has been overshadowed by the acquisition of Xavier transfer Dez Wells, but he will succeed in becoming the Terrapins top scorer, and their go-to guy this season.
No. 2 Daniel Miller, Georgia Tech
Miller is an authority in the paint. He has averaged over 2 blocked shots per game since he was a freshman, but hasn’t been an overwhelming rebounder. Judging from the first two games this year that has changed. He is moving around well in the post and finding position for a high number of rebounds. This season he should be targeted more on the offensive end as well due to the lack of big bodies in the post for the Yellow Jackets.
No. 1 Richard Howell, N.C. State
On an N.C. State team with C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, and up and comer Rodney Purvis, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. Howell hasn’t gotten lost, in the Wolfpack’s opener he scored 16 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and contributed 2 steals and 2 blocks defensively. When people talk about N.C. State they usually either mention Leslie or Brown, but before long Howell will be discussed just as often. He is a fighter with a high motor, and doesn’t take plays off to catch his breath. If N.C. State performs up to expectations this year, Howell might be the most significant reason why.