ACC Basketball

2013-14 Top-Five ACC Sophomores

T.J. Warren, Rasheed Sulaimon

For most players, they start to “get it” between their sophomore and junior years. However, for the special ones, it takes just one year of college ball for “it” to click. The top-five sophomores in the ACC next year, they all will have the “it” I’m talking about.

While the top-five “seniors” and “juniors” lists were rather easy to put together, this one was a bit tougher. There are two names I might regret leaving off, Pittsburgh’s point guard James Robinson and Syracuse center DaJuan Coleman. Go ahead and call it my ACC bias.

TOP-FIVE SOPHOMORES

1. T.J. Warren (SF), North Carolina State
Coming off the bench (for most of the year), there arguable was no better sixth man. The 6-8 small forward played a solid 27 minutes per contest and averaged an impressive 12.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, despite the fact N.C. State didn’t really run any plays through him. Best yet, he wasn’t the type of player to jack up a ton of shots to get those points. He shot 62-percent from the floor and 52-percent from three (on 27 attempts).

Among all players in the ACC next year, Warren may be the most natural scorer of them all. He can score inside and out. He’s not a great athlete, but he’s strong and finds open lanes. He’ll need to work on his footwork on defense and gain more confidence shooting the three, but the reality is, he’s the go-to guy in Raleigh next year. If he puts up the numbers I expect him to, he could potentially be a first-team All-ACC player.

2. Olivier Hanlan (SG), Boston College
Named ACC Rookie of the Year last year by the coaches, Hanlan is simply a scorer. He’s got a solid jumper to go along with an impressive basketball IQ. He’s not a game-changing athlete, but he uses his length and good footwork to find holes in the defense for open shots. If Rahon can continue to run the point position, this will allow Hanlan to concentrate on producing points. Like Warren above, he could challenge for the ACC scoring title.

3. Rodney Hood (SF), Duke
Hood is a skilled lefty with great shooting range. Solid from outside, he has a surprisingly polished mid-range game as well. Arguable Duke’s best athlete, he’s got good ball-handling skills and can create his own offense (something the Blue Devils could have sorely used last year).

The redshirt year should really pay off. He came in desperate for muscle, so the free year in the gym should have helped. The problem for Hood has been a lack of defensive skills and a nose for rebounding. No matter how good he is on the offensive end, if he fails Coach K on the defensive side, he won’t be getting a lot of court time.

4. Rasheed Sulaimon (SG), Duke
Yep, back-to-back Blue Devils. After Hanlan, Sulaimon was the second best freshman last season. When his three-point shot is falling, it’s a thing of beauty. Of course, like all freshmen, he could be a little streaky. He did prove to be better at getting into the lane, at least when he got going to his right. At his height and with his reach, Sulaimon could become one of the better defenders in the league next season. With a year under his belt, Sulaimon should be a more confident player, which makes him a more dangerous player, especially if he gets his three-point percentage above 40-percent.

5. Marcus Georges-Hunt (SF), Georgia Tech
Unless you’re a big-time ACC follower, you might have missed this guy. That’s what happens when you’re on a team that’s been battling for last over the past few years. Last year, Brian Gregory threw caution in the wind and gave a ton of playing time to his rookies. By the season’s end, it looked like it would pay off in the long term.

Of the bunch, Georges-Hunt clearly set himself apart as the go-to guy in Atlanta. He’s got good size and length, capable of shooting from deep. He doesn’t have the quickest first step, but if he can work his shoulders around his defender, then he’s close to unstoppable, as he prefers to work above the rim. As a freshman, he averaged 10.8 points per game. On the flip side, he’s an underrated defender and loves to get dirty under the boards, as he averaged nearly five rebounds per game…none bigger than his tip-in for the win against Miami.

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

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