Power Rankings: ACC Basketball Top 15 Players
ACC's Top-15 Players
It’s time to take a look at the ACC’s top 15 player of the year candidates after evaluating their performances from the first month of the season.
The ACC saw preseason ranked teams quickly fall, a few surprises emerge and one team show its utter dominance over the rest of nation.
The Duke Blue Devils came out of the gate looking determined and they havn’t slowed down since defeating every opponent thrown their way including three wins over top five opponents. With wins over the Kentucky Wildcats, Louisville Cardinals and Ohio State Buckeyes, the Blue Devils have convincingly displayed why they are one of the nation’s top teams. Led by seniorsMason Plumlee and Seth Curry, Duke has already put the conference on notice that the ACC Title will have to go through them.
Meanwhile the team preseason predictions thought the ACC would have to go through, the North Carolina State Wolfpack, have been struggling to keep their heads above water through all the hype. Although they’ve shown flashes lately of figuring things out, it was a hard fall down the rankings after an embarrassing defeat in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off finals at the hands of the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
As the Wolfpack have struggled to find themselves, the Virginia Tech Hokies managed to do something North Carolina State couldn’t and that’s defeat those Cowboys to stay undefeated. At 7-0, the Hokies have many wondering how long they can stay perfect.
A pair of teams that lost their perfect records early, the Miami(FL) Hurricanes and Maryland Terrapins have rebounded from early season losses to later begin a pair of winning streaks that are still continuing.
With plenty of action from the first month of the season, let’s take a look at where players rank in the ACC player of the year race.
The rankings are based on player performance, strength of schedule, team success, and are designed to give an idea of where the player might finish if the conference player of the year was named today. Players who have performed at high levels against strong competition are weighed higher than those who might have higher numbers against considerably weaker competition.
15. Ryan Anderson
Anderson has been the lone bright spot for a 3-5 Boston College team that has struggled through the first month of the season. The sophomore is the only player with a losing record to make the list and he can thank his averages of 15.4 points and 9.7 rebounds for that. He’s ranked seventh in scoring and third in rebounding in the conference and could be higher if it weren’t for an ankle injury that slowed him down, even forcing him to miss a game in mid-November.
He opened the season with back-to-back 20 point games including 25 points against the Baylor Bears in the second game of the season. After the ankle injury his scoring dropped although his rebounding numbers stayed consistent. In his last game Anderson showed signs of the ankle feeling better, shooting 11 for 12 from the field for 23 points to go along with seven rebounds in a losing effort to theHarvard Crimson.
14. Dezmine Wells
When Wells’ transfer attempt was first denied it was thought that the Terrapins had just lost the piece that could have helped them become a serious conference championship contender. Since his clearance, the sophomore has gone on to prove why many believed that with his averages of 13 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game. It didn’t take Wells long to fit in or live up to his reputation as a player that does a little bit of everything on the court. Lately, Wells’ scoring has been on display with 23 and 25 point performances in two of his last three games for the 7-1 Terrapins.
13. Joe Harris
The 6-foot-6 junior gets a little penalized for a weak schedule in his ranking but there’s still no ignoring a conference top five scorer. Averaging 16.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists, Harris already has three 20 point games this season to lead the 7-2 Cavaliers. Including a 22 point, five rebound, five assist performance against the Wisconsin Badgers.
12. Lorenzo Brown
North Carolina State Wolfpack
Before the season began it’d be easy to imagine Brown being in a top five ranking all season long, but with the point guard’s inconsistent play, he finds himself outside the top ten. The 6-foot-5 point guard has been up and down to begin the year, struggling to string together consecutive good performances together. For more on Brown’s play to start the season click here.
11. C.J. Leslie
North Carolina State Wolfpack
Another member of the Wolfpack that before the season began it’d be expected to see a lot higher in the rankings than his current placement. Leslie started the season looking alright but then had a brain cramp in Puerto Rico that saw him foul out with 16 minutes remaining in the second half of the Tip-Off Finals. The junior picked up his fifth foul from a technical called against him for talking back to the officials for a previous foul called against him. He’d be forced to watch from the bench as his team saw all the hype surrounding them quickly evaporate upon being blown out of Oklahoma State.
Leslie has bounced back from the incident, recording double-doubles in the three games since as he’s begun to look like the conference player of the year candidate many expected him to be. He’ll rise fast in the rankings if his current play continues but for now this is how high as he gets given his attitude in the Tip-Off Finals
10. Shane Larkin
The conference’s fourth leading scorer, Larkin has become one of the ACC’s most exciting players posting averages of 16.3 points, 3.7 assists and 3.3 rebounds. The 5-foot-11 sophomore guard can breakdown his defenders with his exceptional ball handling driving past them to the rim or step back and hit a jumper from long range (52% from three-point territory). His 15 points and four steals helped the 5-1 Hurricanes upset the Michigan State Spartans.
If Larkin’s play continues he’ll find himself a lot higher in the coming weeks
9. Quinn Cook
Duke Blue Devils
Cook has excelled after being inserted into the starting line-up in the third game of the season. After only having five assists in the first two games, Cook delivered nine in his first game as a starter. Since then he’s gone on to post averages of 10.5 points, 5.9 assists (good enough for second in the conference) and 3.4 rebounds.
Along with his playmaking abilities Cook showed he can be a trusted down the stretch for the Blue Devils with his play in the Battle 4 Atlantis Finals. The sophomore scored Duke’s final six points in the victory, including going four for four from the free throw in the final twenty seconds of the game, going on to named Tournament MVP.
8. Reggie Johnson
Currently ranked second in rebounding and blocked shots in the conference, Johnson is averaging a double-double after the first month of the season with 12.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. He missed one game for the 5-1 Hurricanes due to a sore tailbone but it hasn’t seem to have bothered him since he’s posted three double-doubles on the year, including his most recent performance of 19 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in a win against the Massachusetts Minutemen.
7. Richard Howell
North Carolina State Wolfpack
The Wolfpack’s struggles would be a lot worse if it wasn’t for Howell and his 14 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. The senior saved his team from a second consecutive embarrassing loss delivering 23 points and 15 rebounds to prevent the upset in an 82-80 victory over the UNC-Ashville Bulldogs. He currently leads the conference in field goal percentage with 69% along with three double-doubles on the season. For more on Howell’s start to the season click here.
6. Jarell Eddie
Virginia Tech HokiesEddie’s shooting to begin the season has been a major reason for the Hokies 7-0 start. Not only is he averaging 17.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists but he currently ranks first in the conference for free throw percentage with 92% and is ranked fourth from three-point range shooting 52.8%. His three point percentage is actually higher than his field goal average of 50.6%. In fact, Eddie had a two game span where he shot 9 for 10 from three point range over Thanksgiving weekend. His most recent performance was a double-double of 15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in an upset victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
5. James Michael McAdoo
James Michael McAdoo
McAdoo is looking exactly like some preseason projections suggested he would, a player that appears to need time to figure things out before consistently being dominate. There’s no questioning the sophomore’s talent or athleticism with his near double-double average of 15.8 points and 9.3 rebounds. However McAdoo has struggled to shoot the ball from the field at times including 26.7% against the Indiana Hoosiers and is only shooting 60% from the foul line. Still, a near double-double average is by no means a disappointing start to the season. Scouts are just waiting for him to grow comfortable as the number one option for the Tar Heels to see how good he can be.
4. Seth Curry
Duke Blue Devils
Curry played the first month of the season exactly like many expected he would when he first transferred to Duke. Despite being bothered by an ankle injury that’s forced him to miss practice and the Blue Devils last game, the senior is still posting 15.1 points per contest while shooting 88.6% from the free throw line. The combination of Curry and Mason Plumlee have provided Duke with an inside-out game that’s led to an 8-0 record and Battle 4 Atlantis Championship.
3. Alex Len
The 7-foot-1 center has been one of the most intimidating players in the nation leading the Terrapins to a 7-1 record. He currently leads the conference with 2.5 blocks per game along with leading Maryland in scoring and rebounding with 14 points and nine rebounds per contest. In the Terrapins only loss that came in the season opener to the Kentucky Wildcats, Len recorded 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks going head-to-head with Nerlens Noel. As long as the sophomore can stay out of foul trouble, he’s going to give the Terrapins a shot at victory against any opponent they face in or out of the conference.
2. Erick Green
Virginia Tech Hokies
Ranked first in the conference in scoring, fourth in assists and fifth in steals, the senior has had an explosive start to the season for the surprising 7-0 Hokies. Green is averaging 24.9 points, 4.4 assists, four rebounds, 1.7 steals and hasn’t failed to score in the twenties once all season. He isn’t showing any signs of slowing down either after recording a season high 28 points and seven rebounds in Virginia Tech’s upset over the Oklahoma State Cowboys. For more on Green’s start to season click here.
1. Mason Plumlee
Duke Blue Devils
First in rebounding, second in scoring and third in field goal percentage in the ACC, Plumlee has been absolutely dominating for the Blue Devils. The 6-foot-10 senior is averaging 19.6 points, 11 rebounds and shooting 65.4% from the field to go along with his five double-doubles on the year. Plumlee has had big time performance after big time performance for the Blue Devils whether its 28 point scoring performances or recording 17 rebounds in a game, he has looked unstoppable. It’s going to be awhile before somebody gets mentioned as the ACC’s best player as Plumlee currently stands head and shoulders above the competition.