Duke freshman Jabari Parker has been dubbed a superstar before even taking a dribble in a significant NCAA basketball game. He, along with the other forwards and centers in the ACC, will decide which team will win the conference in the 2013-14 season.
Parker is one-third of a trio that is small in size when compared to standard frontcourts, but does not lack in speed or talent. Sophomore transfer Rodney Hood and sophomore Amile Jefferson will have to take some of the load off of Parker. None of these players are taller than 6-foot-9, and this could work well with coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s small-ball style.
Hood is expected to fit in fine because of his quickness and scoring ability, and Johnson did show he could be a threat last season with 14 points against Boston College.
North Carolina‘s frontcourt is very similar to Duke’s because of its general lack of size. Joel James is 6-foot-10, but he has not displayed the aggressiveness he will need if he wants to earn the respect of the league. James Michael McAdoo is only 6-foot-9, but will have to tangle with players that are much bigger. Luckily for UNC, these bigger players will have the task of trying to keep up with McAdoo’s speed and athleticism. Freshman Kennedy Meeks (6-foot-9, 290 pounds) will have to throw his weight around if he plans on playing significant minutes.
Syracuse‘s four forwards of C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman and Michael Gbinije can be as talented as any. Fair (14.5 PPG) is the team’s leading returning scorer. Christmas, now a junior, is expected to improve on his five PPG and must distract defenses away from Fair.
The Orange also have 6-foot-10 senior Baye Moussa Keita coming off the bench for rebounds and defense. Coach Jim Boeheim will use his 2-3 zone, and this team’s length will certainly make it tough to score on.
Virginia is definitely a guard-dominated team, but Akil Mitchell (13.1 PPG) will be a major factor in forcing defenses to at least respect his presence in the middle. He is joined by Mike Tobey in the paint. Tobey averaged 6.8 PPG and 2.5 RPG in the 2012-13 season. He will need to boost his rebounds to help the Cavaliers finally reach the NCAA Tournament.
The ACC will be a battle the entire way through. The difference could be made by a late defensive rebound or an offensive put-back contributed by one of these players.