My degree is in literature and education, and this is my tenth ACC Basketball Preview in eleven years for the Hubpages family of websites.
After a relatively poor showing in last season’s non-conference schedule that resulted in only five teams receiving NCAA Tournament berths, the ACC outperformed everyone in March, with four teams winning at least two games, three reaching the Elite Eight, and two reaching the Final Four. The conference now adds 21 of the top 100 recruits in the country with a higher average ranking than last year’s class, and, perhaps more importantly, teams fared significantly better in the transfer portal after hemorrhaging major talent a year ago. The conference is still in an unusual state of flux; the transition to Hubert Davis and Jon Scheyer at the two blue blood programs appears to be going well, but Leonard Hamilton will turn 74, Jim Larranaga will turn 73, and Jim Boeheim will turn 78 before the end of the year, and as many as four programs likely to finish in the bottom half of the league could make coaching changes at the end of the season. Still, the ACC will be in position to re-establish itself as one of the premiere conferences in college basketball, and that should include a strong presence in next year’s NCAA Tournament with anywhere from seven to as many as nine berths in March.
*This article will be expanded and become more specific as rosters are finalized.
North Carolina Tar Heels
- 2021-2022: 29-10, 15-5 in the ACC (tie for 2nd); lost to Kansas in the National Championship Game
- Departures: Brady Manek (15.1 ppg., 6.1 rpg., 40.3% 3pt.) exhausted his eligibility; Dawson Garcia (9.0 ppg., 5.5 rpg., 37.5% 3pt.) transferred to Minnesota, Kerwin Walton (39.9% career 3pt.) transferred to Texas Tech, and Anthony Harris transferred to Rhode Island
- Graduate taking an extra year: Leaky Black
- Major Additions: 6-10 Northwestern transfer Pete Nance (14.6 ppg., 6.5 rpg., 45.2% 3pt.), 6-9 top 40 recruit Jalen Washington, 6-3 top 50 recruit Seth Trimble, 6-8 top 90 recruit Tyler Nickel
- Current Projection: 1st in the ACC; National Championship Game
In his first season as a head coach, Hubert Davis managed to lead the Tar Heels to what was really a shocking run to the National Championship Game. Now, with four starters returning, North Carolina will be heavily favored for a repeat performance. What is particularly impressive is that Davis was somehow able to hold on to all but one of his bench players despite his obvious aversion to playing them. Even during blowouts (of which there were many-13 wins were by 16 points or more and 5 losses were by 17 or more) he was resistant to attempting to develop his roster, with the starting five eventually being referred to as the “Iron Five.” At one point, when the team was losing at halftime, Davis uttered the popular basketball mantra “if you don’t play defense, you don’t play,” which was ironic considering the fact that nothing beyond injuries or foul trouble resulted in North Carolina turning to their bench. The addition of Northwestern transfer Pete Nance to replace Brady Manek effectively puts each member of that same bench of highly recruited players in the exact same position that they found themselves in last season, potentially wasting another year of eligibility for D’Marco Dunn, Dontrez Styles, and Justin McKoy in particular. Regardless, 80% of the players Davis deemed good enough to play are back, and there will be major talent available if he decides that player development will become a team goal.
- 2021-2022: 21-14, 12-8 in the ACC (6th); lost to St. Bonaventure in the NIT Quarterfinals
- Departures: Kody Stattmann graduated, Malachi Poindexter transferred to Illinois St., Carson McCorkle transferred to Wofford, and Igor Milicic transferred to Charlotte
- Graduates taking an extra year: Kihei Clark and Jayden Gardner
- Major Additions: 6-10 top 50 recruit Isaac Traudt, 6-8 Ohio transfer Ben Vander Plas (14.3 ppg., 6.8 rpg., 3.1 apg., 1.8 spg., 33.8% 3pt.), 6-4 top 60 recruit Isaac McKneely, 6-5 top 70 recruit Leon Bond, 6-6 4 star recruit Ryan Dunn
- Current Projection: 2nd in the ACC; Sweet Sixteen
Virginia struggled to find points at the beginning of last season, and that struggle ultimately resulted in the team missing an NCAA Tournament that was actually held for the first time in nine years. However, the team did begin to figure things out down the stretch and ended the season with two victories in the NIT before losing to St. Bonaventure. The top six players from that team return, and the options to fill out a more complete rotation include the highest ranked high school recruiting class in Tony Bennett’s tenure as well as an established, highly regarded transfer. The most positive offensive development for Virginia last season was the play of Reece Beekman, who improved substantially beyond the arc and began to figure out just how effective he can be off the dribble. Beekman should be an All-ACC player as a junior, and he will combine with fifth year guard Kihei Clark to form one of best defensive backcourts in college basketball. Ben Vander Plas will provide depth at power forward that the team was missing a year ago, and combined with top recruit Isaac Traudt could allow Bennett to utilize a lineup with five capable perimeter shooters at times after being limited to no more than three last season. Virginia should be substantially better, and it wouldn’t be a surprise for them to compete for their sixth ACC title in the last ten years.
Duke Blue Devils
- 2021-2022: 32-7, 16-4 in the ACC (1st); lost to North Carolina in the Final Four
- Departures: Paolo Banchero (17.2 ppg., 7.8 rpg., 3.2 apg., 33.8% 3pt.), Wendell Moore (13.4 ppg., 5.3 rpg., 4.4 apg., 41.3% 3pt.), Mark Williams (11.2 ppg., 7.4 rpg., 2.8 bpg.), AJ Griffin (10.4 ppg., 44.7% 3pt.), and Trevor Keels (11.5 ppg.) entered the NBA Draft; Theo John and Bates Jones exhausted their eligibility; Joey Baker (4.5 ppg., 40.5% 3pt.) transferred to Michigan
- Major Additions: 7-1 #1 overall recruit Dereck Lively, 6-6 #2 overall recruit Dariq Whitehead, 6-10 #3 overall recruit Kyle Filipowski, 6-8 top 20 recruit Mark Mitchell, 6-6 Illinois transfer Jacob Grandison (9.6 ppg., 41.0% 3pt.), 6-4 top 50 recruit Jaden Schutt, 6-4 reclassified top 20 recruit Tyrese Proctor, 6-6 Harvard transfer Kale Catchings (9.1 ppg., 4.0 rpg., 36.5% 3pt.), 6-10 Northwestern transfer Ryan Young (9.0 ppg., 4.2 rpg.), 6-11 4 star recruit Christian Reeves
- Current Projection: 3rd in the ACC; Final Four
The Blue Devils will be virtually starting from scratch with the obvious and important exception of veteran point guard Jeremy Roach (if you’re only going to return one player, you want it to be your point guard), who seemed to remember how good he can be and became a major factor during Duke’s ACC and NCAA Tournament runs. Perhaps more notably, the head coach will be new as well, as Jon Scheyer takes over for the most successful coach in the history of the sport. On the other hand, Duke will be adding what are now considered to be the top three overall prospects in this year’s recruiting class (plus an additional top 20 recruit and a reclassified top 20 recruit from 2023), a feat accomplished just once before – when Duke did it in 2018 by signing Zion Williams, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish. With an overwhelmingly young roster Duke figures to be a work in progress early in the season, but with so much talent the team should be among the favorites by March.
Virginia Tech Hokies
- 2021-2022: 23-13, 11-9 in the ACC (7th); lost to Texas in the NCAA Round of 64
- Departures: Keve Aluma (15.8 ppg., 6.5 rpg., 33.3% 3pt.) entered the NBA Draft; Storm Murphy (8.0 ppg., 35.8% 3pt.) exhausted his eligibility; Nahiem Alleyne (9.6 ppg., 37.3% 3pt.) transferred to UConn, David N’Guessan transferred to Kansas St., and John Ojiako transferred to George Mason
- Graduate taking an extra year: Justyn Mutts
- Major Additions: 6-9 Wright St. transfer Grant Basile (18.4 ppg., 8.5 rpg., 1.6 bpg.), 6-4 top 50 recruit Rodney Rice, 6-8 Memphis transfer John Camden, 6-3 4 star recruit M.J. Collins, 6-9 Rice transfer Mylyjael Poteat (7.7 ppg., 4.2 rpg. in 13.8 mpg.)
- Current Projection: 4th in the ACC; NCAA Round of 32
Justyn Mutts probably should have been an All-ACC player last year but was ultimately overshadowed by Keve Aluma, and his return significantly raises the ceiling for the Hokies. In addition, there is every reason to believe that new starters Sean Pedulla and Darius Maddox will be upgrades over Storm Murphy and Nahiem Alleyne respectively and that Grant Basile will be able to replace much of Aluma’s production, so with Mutts in the fold the Hokies could actually improve upon last year. Mike Young made an outstanding recovery from a pair of unexpected departures and should have his team in position for a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance in his fourth year with the program.
- 2021-2022: 26-11, 14-6 in the ACC (4th); lost to Kansas in the Elite Eight
- Departures: Kameron McGusty (17.8 ppg., 4.9 rpg., 1.8 spg., 35.5% 3pt.), Charlie Moore (12.4 ppg., 4.6 apg., 2.0 spg., 36.4% 3pt.), Sam Waardenburg (8.5 ppg., 4.3 rpg., 1.3 bpg., 41.8% 3pt.), and Rodney Miller exhausted their eligibility
- Major Additions: 6-7 Arkansas St. transfer Norchad Omier (17.9 ppg., 12.2 rpg., 2.0 bpg., 1.6 spg.), 6-0 Kansas St. transfer Nijel Pack (17.4 ppg., 43.6% 3pt.), 6-8 top 60 recruit A.J. Casey, 6-6 top 100 recruit Christian Watson, 6-11 4 star recruit Favour Aire, 6-7 4 star recruit Danilo Jovanovich
- Current Projection: 5th in the ACC; NCAA Round of 32
Miami’s roster dictated a transition to smaller lineups with a more modern, up-tempo style of play last season, and that change worked out perfectly for Jim Laranaga and the Hurricanes. Roster turnover should allow the team to retain a similar style of play this season and pick up where they left off. Sam Waardenburg’s offensive versatility as a stretch five will be missed, but Arkansas St. transfer Norchad Omier should prove to be a major upgrade defensively and on the boards, and he will have no issues keeping up with the faster pace. Perimeter pressure could take a hit without Kam McGusty and Charlie Moore, but overall there is every reason to believe the Hurricanes will return to the NCAA Tournament.
Florida State Seminoles
- 2021-2022: 17-14, 10-10 in the ACC (8th)
- Departures: John Butler (5.9 ppg., 1.2 bpg., 39.3% 3pt.) entered the NBA Draft; Malik Osborne (10.0 ppg., 6.9 rpg., 35.7% 3pt.), Anthony Polite (9.9 ppg., 5.6 rpg., 1.5 spg.) and Wyatt Wilkes graduated; RayQuan Evans (8.0 ppg., 3.2 apg., 1.5 spg., 33.3% 3pt.), Tanor Ngom, and Harrison Prieto exhausted their eligibility; Quincy Ballard transferred to Wichita St.
- Major Additions: 6-10 Spanish recruit Baba Miller, 6-9 top 60 recruit De’Ante Green, 6-9 top 70 recruit Cameron Corhen, 6-9 Brown transfer Jaylan Gainey (9.3 ppg., 6.9 rpg., 2.1 bpg.), 6-4 UCF transfer Darin Green Jr. (13.3 ppg., 38.5% 3pt.), 6-2 4 star recruit Chandler Jackson
- Current Projection: 6th in the ACC; Sweet Sixteen
If any team seems like it would have too much depth to be significantly impacted by injuries it would be Florida State, but the sheer volume the team accumulated in January and February was too much for even Leonard Hamilton’s bench to overcome. With Malik Osborne and Anthony Polite opting not to use their additional years of eligibility the team will suddenly be very young, but thanks to another strong recruiting class the roster will still have plenty of depth, talent, and athleticism, and Caleb Mills and Jalen Warley will at least provide a pair of experienced ballhandlers. With so many newcomers it is likely to again take a couple of months for the Seminoles to figure things out, but barring another rash of injuries Hamilton should have his team ready to compete in time to make a push for a Tournament berth and make some noise in March.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
- 2021-2022: 24-11, 15-5 in the ACC (tie for 2nd); lost to Texas Tech in the NCAA Round of 32
- Departures: Blake Wesley (14.4 ppg.) entered the NBA Draft, Paul Atkinson (12.5 ppg., 6.9 rpg.) exhausted his eligibility, and Prentiss Hubb (8.9 ppg., 4.0 apg.) graduated
- Graduates taking an extra year: Nate Laszewski, Dane Goodwin, and Trey Wertz
- Major Additions: 6-4 top 20 recruit J.J. Starling, 6-3 Niagara transfer Marcus Hammond (18.1 ppg., 4.7 rpg., 37.0% 3pt.), 6-8 top 70 recruit Ven-Allen Lubin, 6-8 4 star recruit Dom Campbell
- Current Projection: 7th in the ACC; NCAA Round of 64
Blake Wesley gave the Irish an ability to create off the dribble that they had been lacking for several years, but five star freshman J.J. Starling promises a similar skill set and has the potential to actually be an upgrade. The decisions by Nate Laszewski, Dane Goodwin, and Trey Wertz to take advantage of the additional Covid year and rejoin senior Cormac Ryan will provide the program with talent, stability, and veteran leadership, and Mike Brey should have Notre Dame in position to return to the NCAA Tournament for the 14th time in his 23 years at the school.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
- 2021-2022: 25-10, 13-7 in the ACC (5th); lost to Texas A&M in the NIT Quarterfinals
- Departures: Alondes Williams (18.5 ppg., 6.4 rpg., 5.2 apg.), Jake LaRavia (14.6 ppg., 6.6 rpg., 3.7 apg., 1.7 spg., 38.4% 3pt.), Dallas Walton (9.3 ppg., 5.2 rpg., 1.4 bpg., 36.8% 3pt.), and Isaiah Mucius (9.5 ppg., 36.0% 3pt.) entered the NBA Draft; Khadim Sy (6.0 ppg., 4.6 rpg., 34.7% 3pt.) exhausted his eligibility, and Carter Whitt transferred to Furman
- Graduate taking an extra year: Daivien Williamson
- Major Additions: 6-1 Marist transfer Jao Ituka (15.3 ppg., 41.0%), 6-9 Deleware transfer Andrew Carr (10.0 ppg., 5.1 rpg., 40.5% 3pt.), 6-9 top 80 recruit Zach Keller, 6-1 Florida transfer Tyree Appleby (10.9 ppg., 3.7 apg., 34.2% 3pt.), 6-9 4 star recruit Bobi Klintman
- Current Projection: 8th in the ACC; NIT
Wake Forest improved significantly and played an exciting brand of basketball in year two under Steve Forbes. Unfortunately that success, along with the attention created by the style of play, resulted in four talented players moving on to the next level that had the option to return. The incoming class has talent, although perhaps not quite as much; Tyree Appleby will need to take over at point guard, and he was never particularly efficient in four full seasons at Florida, while Andrew Carr hasn’t shown the sort of passing ability that allowed Jake LaRavia to be so effective as a secondary facilitator last season. The return of Daivien Williamson helps, while Jao Ituka showed tremendous promise offensively as a true freshman at Marist and Carr can certainly replace LaRavia’s shooting, so there is still reason for optimism, but it would be a stretch to think that the Demon Deacons will be better than they were a year ago.
- 2021-2022: 17-16, 8-12 in the ACC (10th)
- Departures: David Collins (10.3 ppg., 6.9 rpg., 38% 3pt.) and Naz Bohannon (5.7 ppg., 4.1 rpg.) exhausted their eligibility; Al-Amir Dawes (11.3 ppg., 39.8% 3pt.) transferred to Seton Hall and Nick Honor (7.7 ppg.) transferred to Missouri
- Graduate taking an extra year: Hunter Tyson
- Major Additions: 6-3 top 70 recruit Dillon Hunter, 6-2 Boston College transfer Brevin Galloway (8.3 ppg.), 6-4 4 star recruit R.J. Godrey
- Current Projection: 9th in the ACC; NIT
Brad Brownell was once again hit with unexpected losses in the offseason, which in this case actually included players that were receiving regular playing time (although both were in and out of the starting lineup). Still, Chase Hunter improved significantly last season and should form a solid backcourt with his brother Dillon, and P.J. Hall should be back to full strength after playing with a foot injury almost all of last season. Overall, the Tigers may be very similar to what they were a year ago, but there could be diminishing returns with the conference as a whole being much stronger. At this point, Brad Brownell is one of several ACC coaches that should probably be concerned about whether or not there will be a next season.
- 2021-2022: 13-19, 6-14 in the ACC (tie for 11th)
- Departures: Malik Williams (9.5 ppg., 8.0 rpg.), Jarrod West (6.1 ppg.), and Mason Faulkner exhausted their eligibility; Noah Locke (9.6 ppg., 34.2% 3pt.) transferred to Providence, Dre Davis (7.4 ppg.) transferred to Seton Hall, Matt Cross (5.8 ppg., 3.9 rpg.) transferred to UMass, Samuel Williamson (5.6 ppg., 3.7 rpg.) transferred to SMU, and Gabe Wiznitzer transferred to Ohio
- Major Additions: 6-10 Tennessee transfer Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (former top 25 recruit), 6-8 top 40 recruit Kamari Lands, 6-8 top 80 recruit Devin Ree
- Current Projection: 10th in the ACC
Beyond being a strong recruiter, there is really no way of knowing what Kenny Payne’s strengths and weaknesses will be as a head coach. He is stepping into a strong roster and made two notable additions of his own with Brandon Huntley-Hatfield and Devin Ree; however, El Ellis is really the only true guard on the team, and he is definitively a scoring minded player and barely had more assists than turnovers last season. As the team is currently constructed, Louisville could be outstanding defensively and on the boards with the right system, but offensive efficiency is likely to be a major problem and will likely limit their success in Payne’s first year as a head coach.
- 2021-2022: 16-17, 9-11 in the ACC (9th)
- Departures: Buddy Boeheim (19.2 ppg., 3.1 apg., 1.5 spg., 34.1% 3pt.) and Cole Swider (13.9 ppg., 6.8 rpg., 41.1% 3pt.) entered the NBA Draft; Jimmy Boeheim (13.7 ppg., 6.2 rpg., 37.9% 3pt.) and Bourama Sidibe exhausted their eligibility; Frank Anselem transferred to Georgia
- Major Additions: 6-3 top 40 recruit Judah Mintz, 6-7 top 60 recruit Chris Bunch, 6-6 4 star recruit Justin Taylor, 6-6 4 star recruit Quadir Copeland, 6-11 Duquesne transfer Mounir Hima
- Current Projection: 11th in the ACC
With Buddy Boeheim and Cole Swider deciding not to take advantage of their Covid years (and the NIL money that would have likely gone along with it), the Orange will be in rebuild mode for a year with a very young roster. Former 5 star sophomore Benny Williams, highly regarded freshman Judah Mintz, and emerging post presence Jesse Edwards will give the team plenty of star potential, and the defense will almost certainly improve, but scoring is likely to become an issue without Swider and the Boeheim brothers.
- 2021-2022: 11-21, 6-14 in the ACC (tie for 11th)
- Departures: Mouhamadou Gueye (9.8 ppg., 6.3 rpg., 2.1 bpg., 36.4% 3pt.) exhausted his eligibility, Femi Odukale (10.8 ppg., 3.4 apg., 33.0% 3pt.) transferred to Seton Hall, Ithiel Horton (9.8 ppg., 37.9% 3pt.) transferred to UCF, Onyebuchi Ezeakudo transferred to Radford, Daniel Oladapo transferred to North Carolina Central, Noah Collier transferred to William & Mary, and Max Amadasun transferred to St. Bonaventure; Chris Payton entered the transfer portal
- Graduate taking an extra year: Jamarius Burton
- Major Additions: 6-3 top 40 recruit Dior Johnson, 6-11 top 80 recruit (according to On3 only) Jorge Diaz Graham, 7-0 top 90 recruit (according to On3 only) Guillermo Diaz Graham, 6-7 Iowa St. transfer Blake Hinson (10.1 ppg., 4.6 rpg. at Ole Miss in 2019-20), 6-0 Colgate transfer Nelly Cummings (14.7 ppg., 3.4 apg., 36.0% 3pt.), 6-3 Marquette transfer Greg Elliott (7.0 ppg., 38.6% 3pt.), 6-4 junior college transfer Cassius McNeilly
- Current Projection: 12th in the ACC; lame duck season for Jeff Capel
If it weren’t for the fairly ridiculous contract that Pitt had to give Jeff Capel to get him to come to the school in the first place (despite his failures at Oklahoma), there would already be a new coach for the program. As it is, there was a 15 million dollar buyout on Capel’s contract last year that will drop to five million after this one. After the team’s season ending loss in the ACC Tournament, Capel stated that “we need to get better players,” a proclamation that was at once ironic, considering the head coach is primarily responsible for recruiting, as well as insulting and ultimately alienating to his roster at the time. Unsurprisingly, that statement was followed by a mass exodus of seven players into the transfer portal. Three late highly regarded high school signees do actually provide the program with a promising freshman class, but their development is likely to take too long (the seven foot Diaz Graham twins currently weigh about 200 pounds each) to significantly benefit Capel and could instead be used to help entice the program's next coach.
Boston College Eagles
- 2021-2022: 13-20, 6-14 in the ACC (tie for 11th)
- Departures: James Karnik (9.8 ppg., 5.4 rpg.) exhausted his eligibility, Brevin Galloway (8.3 ppg.) transferred to Clemson, and Gianni Thompson transferred to UMass
- Graduate taking an extra year: Makai Ashton-Langford
- Major Additions: 6-4 top 100 recruit Donald Hand Jr., 6-6 4 star recruit Prince Aligbe, 6-4 4 star recruit Chas Kelley
- Current Projection: 13th in the ACC
Earl Grant’s first high school recruiting class is a fairly strong one for the Boston College program, and the freshmen will join five players that started at one time or another last season. The Eagles looked terrible on paper in almost every major statistical category, but they almost always showed up to compete and were only blown out on a few occasions all year. While this is still unlikely to be a team that plays a game after the ACC Tournament, those numbers should start to climb along with the talent level, and Grant appears to have the program moving in the right direction.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
- 2021-2022: 12-20, 5-15 in the ACC (14th)
- Departures: Michael Devoe (17.9 ppg., 4.9 rpg., 3.1 apg., 36.5% 3pt.) entered the NBA Draft, Jordan Usher (14.8 ppg., 6.5 rpg., 1.5 spg., 34.2% 3pt.) exhausted his eligibility, Khalid Moore (5.2 ppg., 3.4 rpg.) transferred to Fordham, Bubba Parham transferred to Samford, and Saba Gigiberia transferred to San Francisco
- Major Additions: 6-7 South Alabama transfer Javon Franklin (12.2 ppg., 7.8 rpg., 1.4 bpg.), 6-2 Gardner-Webb transfer Lance Terry (14.3 ppg., 35.0% 3pt.), 6-9 Latvian recruit Freds Pauls Bagatskis
- Current Projection: 14th in the ACC; possible final season for Josh Pastnor
Recruiting has increasingly been an issue for Josh Pastnor, and with the graduation of Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher there will be a major question as to where scoring is going to come from. Georgia Tech also still hasn’t replaced Moses Wright, which is significant for a team whose defense and rebounding has been buoyed by their center play with Ben Lammers, James Banks, and Wright through Pastnor’s tenure. Rodney Howard has already been with the program through two seasons and doesn’t appear to be the answer. Their is still potential on the roster with Deivon Smith, Dallan Coleman, and transfer Javon Franklin, but each of those players appeared to be more than a year away from emerging as a star at the collegiate level. Unless that happens for one or two of them, this could be Pastnor’s last season leading the Yellow Jackets.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
- 2021-2022: 11-21, 4-16 in the ACC (15th)
- Departures: Dereon Seabron (17.3 ppg., 8.2 rpg., 3.2 apg.) and Jericole Hellems (13.7 ppg., 4.6 rpg., 39.0% 3pt.) entered the NBA Draft; Manny Bates (9.8 ppg., 5.9 rpg., 2.7 bpg. In 2020-21) transferred to Butler, Cam Hayes (7.0 ppg.) transferred to LSU, Jaylon Gibson transferred to Winston Salem State, and Thomas Allen transferred to Ball St.
- Major Additions: 6-1 Ole Miss transfer Jarkel Joiner (13.2 ppg., 34.0% 3pt.), 6-8 La Salle transfer Jack Clark (12.0 ppg., 5.8 rpg.), 6-2 4 star recruit L.J. Thomas, 6-9 Winthrop transfer D.J. Burns (15.0 ppg., 4.5 rpg), 6-10 Utah transfer Dusan Mahorcic (5.5 ppg., 4.1 rpg.)
- Current Projection: 15th in the ACC; lame duck season for Kevin Keatts
Kevin Keatts did not step into a good situation at North Carolina State with the NCAA sanctions from the Mark Gottfried era hanging over the program, and recruiting has now fallen off significantly as the enthusiasm that accompanied his arrival has dissipated and his departure seems imminent. Departing players Dereon Seabron, Jericole Hellems, and Manny Bates have not been adequately replaced, and perhaps the most anticipated arrival, reigning Big South Player of the Year DJ Burns, may do more harm than good. Burns lacks physical explosion and doesn’t play with a high motor, and as a result he’s a defensive liability that doesn’t compete on the boards and doesn’t fit Keatts’ style of play at either end of the floor. While Terquavion Smith did make the questionable decision to return, without Seabron to draw defenses into the lane and Hellems to help stretch the floor it will be significantly more difficult for him to score efficiently. Even with Smith, the Wolfpack may now be the least talented team in the conference, and a second consecutive last place finish in the ACC should probably be expected.