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5 Most Important ACC Basketball Players Not Named Jabari Parker

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5 Most Important ACC Basketball Players Not Named Jabari Parker

Guy Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC has a bevy of talent with Jabari Parker the talk of the town. However, there is much more to the ACC than just the Duke star guard. There are three new teams in the league coming from the Big East with Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh joining this season. These schools understand the demands of tough road trips and their transition will be harder on the ACC-mainstays than the newbies.

Also, many ACC teams face tough non-conference challenges with North Carolina and Duke taking on several top-20 opponents early on. Duke, UNC, Virginia and Syracuse are picked by many to be the cream of the crop, but do not be surprised if Notre, Maryland, N.C. State or Pitt cause havoc for these top teams all season long.

Duke is the early-season favorite, but Virginia guard Joe Harris is set to have an ACC Player of the Year season. North Carolina does not have the big names fans are used to, and until P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald return the early season could be tough. Syracuse is new to the league, but with its talented roster, led by C.J. Fair fitting in should not be a problem. Notre Dame has a experienced roster and that will help the Irish fit in as well.

The ACC sent only four teams to the NCAA Tournament in the 2012-13 season, and with three new additions and a ton of talent on many of the teams, anything less than six entries in The Dance will be looked at as a disappointment.

Here are the five most important players in the ACC not named Jabari Parker.

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5. Marcus Paige

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Marcus Paige is quick with the ball, but he does not remind anyone of the typical point guards North Carolina coach Roy Williams has had in his two national championship seasons. Paige averaged 8.2 PPG and 4.6 assists. His assist numbers have improved, but he will need to hover more around seven APG if North Carolina wants to be a serious contender for the ACC title.

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4. Akil Mitchell

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Virginia senior Akil Mitchell is a scorer (13.1 PPG) and should get a boost in his numbers with another year of maturity. Mitchell will need to be a force at the forward spot to help take some of the pressure off of point guard Joe Harris. Mitchell is also a strong rebounder (8.9 RPG), and if he stays consistent with that number he will help lift the Cavaliers into the NCAA Tournament.

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3. Dez Wells

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Dez Wells is Maryland's leading returning scorer after averaging 13.1 PPG game in 2012-13. Wells is one of the best driving guards in the country and can get opposing front courts into foul trouble with his speed and athleticism in the paint. Wells will be asked to lead the at the point guard slot, but do not expect him to stop scoring. Maryland's chances of reaching the NCAA Tournament will weigh heavy on Wells' shoulders.

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2. Rakeem Christmas

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Syracuse's Rakeem Mitchell was not known as a scoring force last year, but with a majority of Syracuse's 2012-13 season's point total gone he will need to contribute more on the offensive end. Mitchell is expected to improve drastically now as a junior, and if he does the Orange will be a serious contender for not only the ACC crown but for a Final Four slot.

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1. T.J. Warren

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina State is not getting much respect with a lineup that has three freshmen starting. Sophomore T.J. Warren could change that if he improves his scoring (12.1 PPG) from his freshman year. The Wolfpack may not have much of a shot at reaching the NCAA Tournament, but with Warren's ability to take over games the 'Pack could hurt another ACC opponents' hopes of being called to The Dance.