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5 Players to Watch in the ACC

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5 Players to Watch in the ACC During the 2014 Conference Season

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC was lauded in the preseason as the greatest basketball conference ever. The early returns seem to have negated some of that perception. The ACC-Big 10 Challenge underscored how disappointing — relative to lofty expectations — the conference has been.

However, despite the lacklustre results for the ACC, there are plenty of players worth watching. The most obvious is Duke’s Jabari Parker, he who is putting up incredible numbers and inspiring awe in even hardened NBA scouts. While his star shines brightest, the ACC has plenty of other players who can put up the stats while being just an integral to their team.

This conference season will be especially tight. The top teams haven’t separated themselves noticeably and the next tier can’t seem to quite get over the hump. Duke, despite Parker, hasn't been able to live up to their preseason expectations. Syracuse hasn't really played much of a substantive schedule. Notre Dame and Virginia have fallen flat and then gotten flatter. North Carolina is so wildly inconsistent that it’s nearly impossible to get a read on them.

Yet, the ACC will still be very compelling for these reasons. Each team has a flaw of some sort, and that is what makes it interesting. There are five players in particular who I want to highlight as being athletes to watch. Not just for their stats stuffing but also for their important to their team. Some of these guys are their team’s superstar, but that doesn't preclude them from inclusion. This list is a combination ranking based on current form, potential, stats, leadership and a lot of subjective qualities called artistic license.

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#5 Olivier Hanlan

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Hanlan is hardly an under-the-radar player, but he is the most important player on Boston College's team and for that he is a player to watch.

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#4 Quinn Cook

quinn cook
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Quinn Cook runs Duke, but he would be the maestro of almost any team in college basketball. When he is on top of his game he's one of the best point guards in America, exerting total control over a game.

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#3 T.J. Warren

tj warren
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

N.C. State may not have a ton of bright spots this year, but this sophomore forward is one of them, averaging a breath under 24 points per game.

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#2 K.J. McDaniels

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Each year of his career at Clemson, McDaniels has made a huge leap. He is vastly improved and more importantly, he is the linchpin for a criminally underrated Tigers squad that has one of the best defenses in the country.

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#1 Tyler Ennis

tyler ennis
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Ennis leads Syracuse, perhaps the best team in the ACC, with an excellent balance of scoring and assists for a freshman. It's a joy to watch him when he's dumping off a pass for a C.J. Fair breakaway dunk.