While the Syracuse Orange and Virginia Cavaliers currently lead the ACC college basketball standings, life on the recruiting trail is telling a much different story about who leads the conference. In looking at the rosters for the McDonald’s High School All-American Game that were released last week, there isn’t a Syracuse or Virginia player that is represented. Instead, the team selections depict life as it’s always been in the ACC, with the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels dominating the rest of the league.
Combined, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels have seven of the 24 seniors playing in the game, which will take place April 2 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. The seven players signed to Duke and North Carolina are the only players scheduled to appear in the game who have committed to schools that will be in the ACC next season. One recruit, 6-foot-2 guard Romelo Trimble, has signed for Maryland. The Terrapins are currently in their final season in the ACC before moving to the Big Ten for 2014-15.
Duke’s quartet in the All-American Game include 6-foot-10 center Jahlil Okafor, for whom the game is in his hometown, 6-foot-1 guard Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, MN), 6-foot-6 forward Justise Winslow (Houston, TX), and 6-foot-4 guard Grayson Allen (Jacksonville, FL). Okafor and Jones are first and fourth, respectively, in the ESPN Top 100 for the Class of 2014, while Winslow (15th) and Allen (20th) are also represented in the Top 20. North Carolina’s three signees include 6-foot-7 forward Justin Jackson (Tomball, TX); 6-foot-6 forward Theo Pinson (Greensboro, NC), and 6-f0ot guard Joel Berry (Apopka, FL.). Jackson is 8th on the ESPN Top 100, while Pinson (10th) and Berry (16th) also appear near the top of the list.
Only one other school, Kentucky, shares in this bountiful recruiting haul that Duke and North Carolina have acquired, as the Wildcats also have four players scheduled to appear in the All-American Game, and all are ranked 24th or better in the ESPN Top 100. The ACC’s conference dominance of the game is something to behold.
Of the other major conferences, the SEC and Pac-12 each have four recruits. All four SEC players are going to Kentucky, while in the Pac-12, UCLA has two with Arizona and Stanford acquiring one each. Three future Big Ten players are in the game, representing Ohio State, Indiana and Maryland. Kansas has a pair of players in the game and is the lone Big 12 representative. The AAC (SMU) and Big East (Seton Hall) round out the recruits who have signed.
Two players, 6-foot-11 center Myles Turner (Bedford, TX) and 6-foot-6 guard Rashad Vaughn (Golden Valley, MN) haven’t picked a school yet. Even if neither player decides to spend at least one college year at Duke or North Carolina, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels have clearly shown that no matter how the current conference standings appear, the future is still the brightest for the ACC’s two traditional powerhouses.