ACC Basketball

2013-14 Top-Five ACC Freshmen

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Okay, I’ve taken care of the seniors, the juniors and the sophomores, now it’s time to tackle the new kids on the block. Back in the good old days before players bolted early for the NBA, when I talked about freshmen, I was talking about the future. However, the future is now because today’s freshmen are All-American candidates, ready to step on the court on day one and make a difference.

Quick Note: This is not a list of who will be the greater basketball player from this freshmen class. It’s a list of the top-five freshmen who will have the biggest impact THIS coming season. Yes, I think Kennedy Meeks will be a better player than BeeJay Anya. He’s a better player right now, but the difference is, Meeks will struggle to find playing time in a UNC front court loaded with talented big men, while BeeJay will start for the Wolfpack, simple because they have no one else.

1. Jabari Parker (PF), Duke
Coach Kzyzewski went all in during Parker’s recruitment and the coach landed a big fish. The move should pay off, because Parker is a difference maker. Rated the #2 player coming out of high school, the 6-8 forward out of Chicago is a winner first and foremost. He is a four-time state champion and two time Mr. Illinois. I’ve seen the name “Carmelo Anthony” thrown around when people discuss Parker and we all know what Anthony did in just one year of college basketball. Overall, Parker is not the most athletically gifted player, but he’s got a NBA frame and basketball IQ to match. He’s got great ball handling skills and is silky smooth around the rim. He has a nice mid-range shot and can hit the long ball as well.

Parker will start from day one and will see 35 minutes per game for Duke. Between he and Rodney Hood, one of them will be the go-to guy for the Blue Devils. Look for him to continue to improve his outside shot, his defensive footwork and add some muscle to his frame, to avoid hitting that freshman wall.

2. Anthony “Cat” Barber (PG), North Carolina State
With Lorenzo Brown off to make millions in the NBA, Barber will be handed the keys to a Wolfpack offense that will feature five new starters. The go-to guy on this team will be T.J. Warren, but Barber should be the second best player on the court for Mark Gottfried. Barber is extremely quick, capable of beating even the most capable defender off the dribble. He can throw up a decent floater, but Barber likes to finish at the rim. On the defensive side, he plays aggressive and loves to create turnovers and fast break opportunities.

As I said, Barber will run the show from day one. with so little overall depth in NC State’s backfield, you should also expect to see Barber play off the ball, since fellow point guard Tyler Lewis is State’s best option off the bench. To be truly effective, Barber will need to work on his outside shot (40-percent from three is probably asking too much) and add some much needed bulk. He might like going to the rim, but there is a lot of bulk inside in the ACC, so he could get knocked around a lot.

3. Tyler Ennis (PG), Syracuse
Unlike Barber above, Ennis is not the most gifted of athletes. He’s not going to simply blow by a defender with raw speed. Instead, Ennis uses a solid basketball IQ to find openings on the floor. He loves to run the break and push the offense forward quickly before the opponent can get back into their half-court set. Once inside, he’s not afraid to mix it up with the trees and is known as a crafty finisher. On the defensive side, he’s a gambler and as any gambler will tell you, it doesn’t always pay off.

Heading into his freshman campaign, Ennis is the only point guard option Jim Boeheim has, with both Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche gone. Ennis will not be the guy who will make up for the lost points that MGW and Triche provided. He doesn’t have a good outside shot and he would rather set up a teammate than look for his own shot. On the defensive side, the zone will be a challenge for Ennis. Both Carter-Wiliams and Triche brought great length to the outside spots in the zone. Ennis doesn’t have that kind of wing span. He’ll need to be patient if he is to master Boeheim’s zone.

4. Mike Young (C/PF), Pittsburgh
Head coach Jamie Dixon is losing a ton of talent (via graduation and transfers), so this means he has an opening inside for Mike Young, the #21 ranked PF (according to Scout). Young will be one of the stronger power forwards in the conference (he has 245 pounds on his 6-8 frame). He’ll also be one of the most polished big men. Unlike so many other forwards, Young has an established post-game that includes a variety of moves. Once he has the ball inside, he’s confident to know what to do with the rock. On the defensive side, he’ll need to work on his footwork and positioning, while stretching out his shot on the offensive side of the ball.

5. BeeJay Anya (C), North Carolina State
In a perfect world, Mark Gottfried would have Anya on the bench his freshman year, giving him time to develop his basketball IQ. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the luxury to be patient. Anya should be the starting center from day one. At 6-9, 275, he’s a tad short for center, but his frame takes up nearly the entire paint. He’s not a superior leaper, but he moves well in traffic. With his 7-4 wingspan, he’s a lethal shot blocker on the defensive side of the ball, capable of keeping his opponent from gaining any ground inside. On the offensive side, Anya will rely mostly on rebounds for points, although he does have a established hook shot already. In the end, Anya’s job will be owning the boards to prevent the other team from getting second chance shots, while giving State’s young team more opportunities.

TOP-FIVE SENIORS:
1. Joe Harris (SG), Virginia
2. C.J. Fair (SF), Syracuse
3. Okaro White (PF), Florida State
4. Eric Atkins (PG), Notre Dame
5. Akil Mitchell (PF), Virginia

TOP-FIVE JUNIORS:
1. James Michael McAdoo (PF), North Carolina
2. P.J. Hairston, (SG), North Carolina
3. Jerian Grant (SG), Notre Dame
4. Ryan Anderson (PF), Boston College
5. Dez Wells (SG), Maryland

TOP-FIVE SOPHOMORES:
1. T.J. Warren (SF), North Carolina State
2. Olivier Hanlan (SG), Boston College
3. Rodney Hood (SF), Duke
4. Rasheed Sulaimon (SG), Duke
5. Marcus Georges-Hunt (SF), Georgia Tech

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