College Basketball Preview 2016-2017: ACC
|Grayson Allen, Duke|
2015-2016 Record: 25-11
ACC Record: 11-7 (Tie/5th)
BACKCOURT: The Blue Devils were thin everywhere on their team last season, particularly their backcourt. After Tyus Jones left to the NBA after one season, Duke didn't have a true point guard until Derryck Thornton signed on late in the recruiting process. That shouldn't be a problem this year, as highly touted Frank Jackson arrives likely to start Day One. Thornton has since transferred after averaging 7.1 points per game last year. Jackson will be joined by one of college basketball's premier players, junior Grayson Allen. Allen is highly controversial, but you can't look past his 21.6 PPG and 4.6 RPG in '15-'16. Also back for the Blue Devils are solid veterans in Matt Jones and Luke Kennard. Jones is a big, strong wing defender, while Kennard opens the floor with his dangerous three-point touch.
FRONTCOURT: It may be easy to look at what Duke has incoming in their frontcourt and look beyond their returnees, but those returnees are going to play a huge role. Senior Amile Jefferson missed most of last season with a foot injury but returns with a hunger and drive that we haven't seen before from the veteran. Coach K and staff are also looking for increased contributions from talented guys that struggled to get on the court a year ago because they were so raw. 6'10" Chase Jeter has plenty of upside but looked lost at times a season ago, while former Rice transfer Sean Obi is trying to sneak into a role. The Blue Devils have the best recruiting class in the land, and it is easy to see why. Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles are two of the top players in the Class of 2016 and bring immediate scoring punch. Giles, however, is going to miss time due to injury and there are concerns about his knees, after a number of injuries in high school. Another newcomer, powerful Marques Bolden is a true center and could fight for a starting gig right away.
OVERALL: Duke was very talented a season ago but a lack of depth caused them to bow out early in the Sweet 16. That shouldn't be a problem this season, with so much talent everywhere you look on the roster. With loads of experience and high upside, Duke appears to be the clear-cut favorite not just to win the ACC but the National Championship.
2. Virginia Cavaliers National Rank: 7
2015-2016 Record: 29-8
ACC Record: 13-5 (Tie/2nd)
BACKCOURT: Point guards are often described as coaches on the court, and that certainly holds true for Virginia PG London Perrantes. Perrantes isn't flashy, but he is a disciplined ball-handler that makes the right plays and doesn't try to do too much. The senior will be joined by a strong cast of characters, even without graduated Malcolm Brogdon. Junior Marial Shayok has to improve as a shooter but brings great energy and versatility. Junior Devon Hall is much the same but a better passer, while junior Darius Thompson is a wonderful athlete. Those three all played well last season in reserve roles, but will have to step up and prove they can carry on the tradition of good defense and smart basketball played before them.
FRONTCOURT: The Cavaliers will be without two staples of their programs over the past four years in Mike Tobey (7.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG) and Anthony Gill (13.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG), but that doesn't mean the cupboard is bare, thanks in large part to the addition of Memphis transfer Austin Nichols. Nichols had his moments with Memphis, but is still working on consistency. His scoring ability and ability to run the floor give Virginia a whole different skill-set than Gill or Tobey. Junior Isaiah Wilkins is back as a gritty interior player who will be a factor on the glass. Also back is sophomore Jack Salt, a raw but talented center. Salt started nine times last season, but struggled against some of the prime talent in the conference.
OVERALL: Virginia achieved a lot last season, but their collapse in the Elite Eight to Syracuse left them with a bad taste in their mouth. Expect that to go away this season, with the talent rising head coach Tony Bennett has at his disposal. Perrantes, Shayok and Nichols are a wonderful core and could be the team that finally gets Bennett to that elusive Final Four.
3. North Carolina Tar Heels National Rank: 8
2015-2016 Record: 33-7
ACC Record: 14-4 (1st)
BACKCOURT: Life after Marcus Paige begins in Chapel Hill, after the four-year starter and heart of the program graduated. However, the Tar Heels could actually end up improving at point guard, thanks to the return of junior Joel Berry II. Berry averaged 12.8 PPG and 3.8 APG and could be even better, now in a lead role. Berry is not the distributor or court leader that Paige was, but he has proven to be just as dangerously offensively. Senior Nate Britt should also find a way to make an impact as a quality defender and adept passer. North Carolina fans are excited about the potential of true freshman Seventh Woods, who will bring explosiveness and excitement right away. Joined by the versatile Theo Pinson, the Tar Heels have more than enough to replace the departed Paige.
FRONTCOURT: This past spring, it was unclear whether a trio of Tar Heels were set to go pro in the frontcourt. Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Justin Jackson all flirted with the idea of going professional, but instead opted to return. Jackson, a junior, is perhaps the best player on the entire team when playing aggressive. He has a lengthy frame and has improved shooting-wise, so a major breakout could be in store. Hicks and Meeks give UNC plenty of bulk and power in the low post. Meeks struggled to control his weight earlier in his career but has slimmed down and is now quicker and athletic, giving UNC a more dangerous weapon. Newcomer Tony Bradley has the chance to see minutes at one of the forward spots. Bradley brings vast scoring potential and a solid rebounder, but he needs to add more muscle before the brutal ACC slate begins.
OVERALL: After coming within a hair of a National Title last season, UNC could be just as good, even without program guys Paige and prolific Brice Johnson. The key will be finding a new go-to scorer and Jackson and Berry could certainly fit that role. If the young guys step up and provide valuable depth, another trip to the Final Four isn't out of the realm of possibility.
4. Louisville Cardinals National Rank: 13
2015-2016 Record: 23-8
ACC Record: 12-6 (4th)
BACKCOURT: Forced into a starting role as a true freshman when Chris Jones was kicked off the team, junior Quentin Snider has grown into a legitimate floor leader. Snider is not a dominant scorer but takes great care of the ball and is a great passer. He could play the Peyton Siva role for Rick Pitino and the Cards this year. Joining him in the backcourt will be sophomore Donovan Mitchell and Penn transfer Tony Hicks. Mitchell showed promise as a scorer despite rather limited minutes in '15-'16, while Hicks brings valuable floor spacing with his long-range ability. However, it remains to be seen how those still inexperienced pieces can mesh and replace the wonderful production of the departed Trey Lewis and Damion Lee.
FRONTCOURT: Fully recovered from a broken foot that ailed him for much of last season, senior Mangok Mathiang is expected to play a key role for Louisville. Mathiang is limited in many ways, but at the very least he brings size and rebounding ability in the paint. He will be supported by a pair of veterans in Raymond Spalding and Jaylen Johnson. Johnson is the likely starter at power forward and will also bring fabulous scoring ability close to the hoop. Junior Anas Mahmoud is also returning as a shot-blocking specialist. While the Cardinals have a number of solid pieces returning to the frontcourt, it is the newcomer that may draw the most attention. Small forward V.J. King is a special player who should star right away for Louisville. King has long arms and is extremely active on defense, which should fit perfectly in Louisville's aggressive press. His ability to run the floor and open things up in transition should also serve the up-tempo Cards from the get-go.
OVERALL: With a number of quality veterans back, namely Snider and Mathiang, Louisville should have no problems getting back to the postseason (self-imposed a one-year ban last year). The defense should create easy opportunities, and it isn't crazy to think King could be a superstar from the moment he touches the ball. However, Louisville was tied for seventh in the ACC in scoring last year before losing their top three scorers. That could just be enough to keep them from competing for an ACC Championship this year.
5. Virginia Tech Hokies National Rank: 19
2015-2016 Record: 20-15
ACC Record: 10-8 (Tie/7th)
BACKCOURT: Highly regarded Maryland transfer Seth Allen did not disappoint in his debut in Blacksburg as the high volume scorer averaged 14.7 points per game. Yet, Allen did struggle with turnovers at times and was not very efficient. If he can cut down on turnovers and really become the leader head coach Buzz Williams wants him to be, he is a threat for ACC Player of the Year. Sophomore Justin Robinson will help him out, as the wonderful passer and solid shooter hopes to round out his offensive game. Junior Justin Bibbs has the chance to start at shooting guard as a dangerous, attacking wing (11.7 PPG). Depth should not be an issue in the backcourt for the Hokies, who bring back plenty. Sophomore Ahmed Hill missed all of last year but started 30 games for VT in 2014-2015 and knows how to score. Senior Devin Wilson and true freshman Tyrie Jackson will back up Allen at point guard, with Jackson bringing a very high ceiling.
FRONTCOURT: Virginia Tech doesn't quite have the depth and talent up front as they do in back, but they should still be able to control the paint in most games, thanks in large part to the return of Zach LeDay. The versatile LeDay proved he could score anywhere on the court and play great defense. Joined by sophomores Kerry Blackshear Jr. and swingman Chris Clarke, he will have plenty of help. Clarke is a wonderful rebounder that displayed loads of potential last season, so the Hokies will be excited about what he can do in '16-'17.
OVERALL: Entering just his third season with Virginia Tech, Buzz Williams has an extremely dangerous team on his hands. Allen, Robinson and Bibbs will give teams headaches defending them and the Hokies have wonderful versatility up front. After a long hiatus (haven't made the tourney since 2007) VT should not only return to the NCAA Tournament, but perhaps make a deep run.
6. Syracuse Orange National Rank: 25
2015-2016 Record: 23-14
ACC Record: 9-9 (Tie/9th)
BACKCOURT: No team in the ACC was hit as hard with losses as Syracuse was in their backcourt. The Orange knew they would have to move on from the athletic Michael Gbinije (17.5 PPG) and the sharp-shooting Trevor Cooney, but the decision of Malachi Richardson to leave early for the NBA stung especially. Richardson was streaky but had moments where he was absolutely dominant, like his second half showing against Virginia in the Elite Eight. Those losses leave Syracuse way less experienced, but there is talent here. True freshman Tyus Battle is a perfect fit for Syracuse's zone, with his lengthy frame and wonderful court knowledge. He will be helped out by another newcomer, John Gillon. Gillon is a transfer from Colorado State who will push the ball and open things up. The only notable name back in the backcourt for the Orange is sophomore Franklin Howard. Howard is a great athlete who Jim Boeheim seemed to favor towards the end of last season.
FRONTCOURT: While many people took notice of Richardson's dominance in Syracuse's unlikely run to the Final Four, he probably wasn't even the best guy on the floor. That may have been reserved for Tyler Lydon, a rugged center who can do it all. Despite his youth, Lydon showed excellent promise on offense and defense, and can nail shots anywhere. He could very well have a major breakout, even with defenses focusing on him more. Seniors Tyler Roberson and DaJuan Coleman will not only bring important leadership and guidance to a young team, they'll play big roles. Roberson has a relatively weak offensive game, but he still makes an impact on putbacks and dunks. Roberson is especially helpful on the boards, where he is so good at anticipating. Coleman is more of a traditional big man than Lydon and a powerful presence in the paint. Sophomore Pascal Chukwu is very raw, but he will mainly only serve one purpose for the Orange: block shots. At 7'2" with long arms, he will be doing a lot of that.
OVERALL: Syracuse struggled mightily last season before their epic Final Four run, so don't expect this team to be without growing pains, especially with new guards being plugged in. However, Lydon has all the makings of a star and the supporting cast is quality and hard-working. Another deep tourney run may be tough, but a Sweet 16 and upper-division finish in the conference is a reasonable goal for the 'Cuse.
7. Miami Hurricanes National Rank: Unranked
2015-2016 Record: 27-8
ACC Record: 13-5 (Tie/2nd)
BACKCOURT: Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan were two of the ACC's top guards last season, and their departures sting for the Hurricanes. However, Jim Larranaga has shown that he can reload, and talent still remains. Senior Davon Reed will be looked at as one of the 'Canes' top options after averaging 11.1 points per game a season ago. He has also proven to be an exceptional three-point shooter that should open things up for the offense. Junior Ja'Quan Newton is an explosive weapon as well who is tough to stop when he attacks the rim. Newcomer Bruce Brown arrives as a quality guard that could take over point guard duties with Rodriguez long gone. Brown is a wonderful athlete that can play quality defense.
FRONTCOURT: Miami also suffers losses in the frontcourt, as they move on from center Tonye Jekiri (7.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG). That should place increased responsibility on former Oklahoma State transfer Kamari Murphy. Murphy is still evolving offensively, but his rebounding abilities are top notch. Another player expected to play an increased role is going to be sophomore Ebuka Izundu, who backed up Jekiri at center last year. Izundu is still very raw but he showed he could bring great energy and defense off the bench. Sophomore Anthony Lawrence Jr. and true freshman Rodney Miller will bring depth and playmaking off the pine.
OVERALL: The Hurricanes were a major surprise last season, coming seemingly out of nowhere to win 27 games, tie for second place in the conference and make it to the Sweet 16. They suffer heavy losses, but the talent level of the team has risen significantly under Larranaga, and they should still be tough to beat, with Newton and Reed leading the charge.
8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish National Rank: Unranked
2015-2016 Record: 24-12
ACC Record: 11-7 (Tie/5th)
BACKCOURT: For the second consecutive year, Notre Dame will miss their star guard as Demetrius Jackson opted to leave early for the pros a year after Jerian Grant did the same. The Irish managed to survive losing Grant in 2015-2016, and they should be able to withstand the departure of Jackson, even though he did so much last season. Junior Matt Farrell is expected to take over the reigns of the point guard position, after showing plenty of promise a season ago. Farrell is an excellent passer and can shoot the three ball. He doesn't have the athleticism of Jackson, but should still run the offense. Senior Steve Vasturia could take over the role as the top offensive option this year, after averaging 11.4 PPG in '15-'16. Vasturia entered South Bend as a sharpshooter early in his career, but has evolved to round out his offensive game. Sophomore Rex Pflueger became an ND hero for getting the game-winning putback against Stephen F. Austin in last year's NCAA Tournament, and should see more playing time.
FRONTCOURT: Explosive and powerful Zach Auguste is gone, but the Irish should also be able to reload in the frontcourt. Senior V.J. Beachem is going to emerge as a dominant force on the offensive end after having quite a breakout in '15-'16. Along with sophomore Matt Ryan, Notre Dame has two of the top shooting forwards in the conference, although Beachem possesses more versatility. Junior Bonzie Colson is undersized (6'5") but uses his burly frame to carve out space in the paint, and also brings an excellent rebounder. The Irish really lack a true center with Auguste gone, which could push sophomore Elijah Burns and true freshman John Mooney into a starting gig.
OVERALL: Even without Grant, the Irish made the Elite Eight last season, and have seemingly become a major player in the ACC. They should be able to recover from the losses of Jackson and Auguste, although there will almost certainly be growing pains. However, unless a center emerges, anything beyond an NCAA Tournament berth would be a major surprise.
9. Florida State Seminoles National Rank: Unranked
2015-2016 Record: 20-14
ACC Record: 8-10 (Tie/11th)
BACKCOURT: Even though he wasn't highly touted by many, Malik Beasley proved to be quite the productive guard in his one lone season in Tallahassee. He averaged 15.6 PPG and 5.3 APG before leaving after just one season for the bright lights of the NBA. His absence will leave a void, but Florida State expects it to be quickly filled by Xavier Rathan-Mayes, a junior. Rathan-Mayes is unbelievably streaky; he has moments where he can absolutely take over games and moments where he struggles to make any sort of impact. Hopefully, entering his junior campaign, he finds some more consistency because his talent is immense. Sophomore Dwayne Bacon flirted with the NBA before opting to return for his sophomore season. Bacon is one of the more talented players in the ACC, and uses his great size (6'7",220 pounds) to get to the rim. Bacon is also working on consistency but when the pair is playing well, FSU could possess one of the top backcourts in the conference. Depth could be an issue, however, as head coach Leonard Hamilton will look to sophomore Terance Mann and junior college transfer Braian Angola-Rhodes to help out.
FRONTCOURT: The Seminoles were a solid rebounding team last season, and that shouldn't change much this year. Florida State doesn't have any superstars in the frontcourt, but the group should be enough to find some success in the paint. Junior Phil Cofer returns from injury as a solid and productive member, while senior Jarquez Smith is a dominant defender. Center will be an interesting position, as FSU will likely turn to senior Michael Ojo to replace 7'3" Boris Bojanovsky. Ojo has long had plenty of potential but has yet to cash in on it due to injuries and little playing time. Now fully healthy, it is time for the vet to show what he can do. True freshman Jonathan Isaac is the star of the 2016 recruiting class. Isaac is still learning in a number of areas, but his athleticism and versatility will be a valuable asset for the 'Noles.
OVERALL: Despite winning 20 games last season, there is significant pressure on Hamilton and the Seminoles, as FSU hasn't gone dancing since 2012. They certainly have the star power to do it this season, particularly if Rathan-Mayes and Bacon grow up a bit. If some of their bench guys can play better, FSU could become yet another ACC team in serious contention for a Tournament berth.
10. Pittsburgh Panthers National Rank: Unranked
2015-2016 Record: 21-12
ACC Record: 9-9 (Tie/9th)
BACKCOURT: Pittsburgh's backcourt was not a particular strength for them a season ago, and the group could endure some growing pains throughout '16-'17. Steady point guard James Robinson is now gone, leaving a major hole that the Panthers will have to fill quickly. Sophomore Damon Wilson is a solid contributor who showed flashes of stardom last year. With more experience the youngster could take huge leaps. Sophomore Cameron Johnson is a great shooter and distributor, but lacks much substance in his game. Swingman Chris Jones also returns as a quality rebounder and penetrator, but still a player waiting to cash in on his potential. That trio offers plenty of potential, but it remains to be seen if any can take over a leadership role, which could hinder Pitt's progress this year.
FRONTCOURT: While the backcourt lacks depth and experience, Pitt's frontcourt does not have the same issues. The duo of Michael Young and Jamel Artis has the chance to be one of the best in the ACC. Young is a well-rounded, cerebral player who had numbers of 15.7 PPG and 6.9 RPG last season. Artis, also a senior, is a versatile playmaker that can get to the rim and finish or step outside and space the floor. He is still working defensively, and improving as a passer, but teams will have troubles containing the pair, particularly when they are on the court at the same time. Senior Sheldon Jeter is an interesting piece to the puzzle. The forward once played for new Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt before transferring, only to resume play with Stallings once more his coach. How Stallings and Jeter's relationship plays out will be intriguing, but no matter what Jeter brings a solid shooting stroke and energy off the bench. Senior Rozelle Nix will play a big role for the Panthers this season. While Young and Artis are superb talents neither lack ideal size, which isn't a problem for the 6'11", 300-pound Nix. He will have to use that size to get position underneath and win rebounding battles, which was a strength for Pitt last season (third in ACC in rebounding margin).
OVERALL: A main reason for Jamie Dixon leaving Pitt this off-season to join TCU other than the fact that he is an alum is the frustration that he made 11 NCAA Tournament appearances in 13 seasons with the Panthers and the fan base still wanted more. Stallings, who underachieved often at Vanderbilt, will now have that much pressure on him. His first edition in Pittsburgh isn't bad, but the lack of a proven point guard could relegate them to an NIT squad.
11. Clemson Tigers National Rank: Unranked
2015-2016 Record: 17-14
ACC Record: 10-8 (Tie/7th)
BACKCOURT: While many ACC teams are scrambling to replace key pieces lost, Clemson returns much of their core, namely their two starting guards in Avry Holmes and Gabe DeVoe. Holmes is a quality combo guard that can attack the rim in a variety of ways. DeVoe struggled to score last season, as his shot disappeared often. If that doesn't improve, he could be losing minutes to a pair of new transfers. Robert Morris transfer Marcquise Reed has loads of talent, as he won Northeast Conference Player of the Year in 2014-2015. He is a much better shooter than either Holmes or DeVoe, and head coach Brad Brownell could favor him as the year pushes on. The other transfer, Shelton Mitchell, arrives from Vanderbilt as a good ball-handler that could handle point guard duties.
FRONTCOURT: Few players in college basketball are as criminally underrated as Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame. The 6'7" senior can hurt defenses in so many ways and has grown into a more vocal leader in his time with the Tigers. Defenses will try to focus on him, which could open things up for the other weapons Clemson possesses. Junior Donte Grantham is one of those weapons, as the favorite to start at power forward. Grantham is relatively undersized but is a gritty player and a nice complement to Blossomgame. Texas A&M transfer Elijah Thomas is a former big-name recruit, who never really fit in with the Aggies. At 6'9" with plenty of muscle, Thomas could become Clemson's top rebounder and top true post player.
OVERALL: Clemson may always be a football school, but there is reason to get excited about this basketball program. The Tigers surprised quite a bit last season and have a prime talent in Blossogame. If the transfers can come in and produce, Brad Brownell certainly has a team that could sneak into the NCAA Tournament. If not, his seat will continue to warm.
12. NC State Wolfpack National Rank: Unranked
2015-2016 Record: 16-17
ACC Record: 5-13 (13th)
BACKCOURT: In the midst of a disastrous season in Raleigh, Anthony "Cat" Barber put on quite a show for the Wolfpack. The dynamic point guard did it all last season, stuffing the stat sheet full (23.5 points per game, 4.5 assists per game) but opted to head pro. Replacing his crazy production will obviously be difficult, but NC State did manage to reel in one of the top talents in the 2016 class in Dennis Smith Jr. Smith is a former five-star recruit who tore his ACL late in his high school career. He appears fully healthy and ready to go, and NC State could utilize his quickness and explosiveness from the very beginning. Joining Smith will be former West Virginia transfer Terry Henderson and late-signee Markell Johnson. Henderson is a sharpshooter who never really got the opportunity to show what he could do, as he was lost for the season in the opener.
FRONTCOURT: Flashiness is not very present in the NC State frontcourt, but that does not mean there isn't plenty of talent. Junior Abdul-Malik Abu is very underrated, as he averaged nearly 13 points per game last season. Abu is a physical, aggressive forward that should get even more opportunities with Barber out of the picture. Sharpshooting Maverick Rowan should start at a wing spot and will hope to become more aggressive after showing plenty of progress last season. Most importantly, perhaps, is the return of senior BeeJay Anya. Anya is not a dominant scorer, but uses his wide frame to swat plenty of shots, as he averaged 2.2 blocks per game a year ago. If Anya can develop a mid range game to go along with his powerful low post prowess, NC State has a potential star.
OVERALL: Barber was the heart and soul of the Wolfpack a year ago, but NC State could still find ways to improve even without him. Smith has the talent to be a stud and the Wolfpack also have the shooting and floor spacing needed to succeed in the ACC. Going from a sub-.500 squad to the Tournament is unrealistic, but NC State could return to the postseason if things go right.
13. Wake Forest Demon Deacons National Rank: Unranked
2015-2016 Record: 11-20
ACC Record: 2-16 (14th)
BACKCOURT: Even though he had some serious ups-and-downs, Wake Forest has to be excited about the insane potential of sophomore Bryant Crawford. Crawford showed he had a knack for scoring in bunches a season ago, but too often made dumb plays or errors, which was to be expected of the young star. Having experience around him will help, and Wake has plenty of it. Junior Mitch Wilbekin emerged as a quality shooter and good defender a season ago, and head coach Danny Manning will need his calming presence. Newcomers Keyshawn Woods and Brandon Childress will play pivotal roles. Woods is a Charlotte transfer with plenty of athleticism, while Childress is a fantastic finisher who has a bright future at point guard.
FRONTCOURT: The loss of top scorer Devin Thomas will push the Demon Deacons to find new ways to score in the low post. Sophomore Doral Moore could be in store for a breakout with his minutes likely jumping. Moore has the size and strength to be great, but lacks a refined offensive game. Junior Greg McClinton is a solid, stable option at either forward position, but has not shown that he can be looked at as a top scoring option. Milwaukee transfer Austin Arians is going to have a chance to start from the moment he hits the court. Arians has the size to produce in the post, but his strength is from deep. His stretch-four abilities will open up lanes for Crawford and company to dart through.
OVERALL: When Manning arrived from Tulsa, he knew things would not be easy in Winston-Salem where the Demon Deacons lacked experience and are often out-recruited by the powers of the state, UNC and Duke. However, Wake continues to show progress and with plenty of potential, they could fight to a .500 overall mark.
14. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets National Rank: Unranked
2015-2016 Record: 21-15
ACC Record: 8-10 (Tie/11th)
BACKCOURT: It will be interesting to see who Georgia Tech turns to in their backcourt to replace Marcus Georges-Hunt and Adam Smith, their two top scorers. The best bets would be a combination of senior Josh Heath, junior Tadric Jackson and decorated freshman Josh Okogie. Heath is a South Florida transfer that has valuable experience and can hit from deep. Jackson is a great penetrator and is fearless, but is unproven as a scorer. And then there is Okogie, a very talented prospect, but someone who is going to need time to adjust to the speed and physicality of the collegiate game.
FRONTCOURT: New playmakers must also emerge in the frontcourt, where there is plenty of size, but not a whole lot of proven commodities. Sophomore Slyvester Ogbonda is still learning on the job, but he looked great over the summer, and has the strength to fight for chances on the block. Junior Ben Lammers will join him as a likely starter. Lammers (3.6 PPG last year) has a nice, feathery touch around the rim and can swat plenty of shots, but he has never been able to take over games offensively either. Senior Quinton Stephens is the leading returning scorer on the roster, as he averaged five points per game in '15-'16. Stephens is a good cutter and has good athleticism, but his shooting is streaky at best.
OVERALL: During his time with Memphis, Josh Pastner brought in plenty of talent but was never able to get the Tigers back into the National Title conversation like John Calipari had done, and there were many people calling for his firing towards the end of his tenure before landing in Atlanta. Pastner has a tough job on his hands, but his success on the recruiting trail should help. Unfortunately, it won't keep GT from the bottom of the league this season.
15. Boston College Eagles National Rank: Unranked
2015-2016 Record: 7-25
ACC Record: 0-18 (15th)
BACKCOURT: In his third and final stop, Eli Carter may have played his best basketball. The former Rutgers and Florida transfer averaged 16 points per game for Boston College last season, and now will have to be replaced. The good news is that sophomore Jerome Robinson is back after showing plenty of talent last season. Robinson is an electric scorer but must improve his shooting to take the next step as a player. He will need help around him, and that will most likely come from junior bruiser Darryl Hicks and dangerous freshman Ty Graves, a talented defender.
FRONTCOURT: Much like Robinson, sophomore A.J. Turner showed a ton of promise last season. Turner (5.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG) is versatile and athletic, but lacks a polished jumper. Until that emerges, it is hard to see him really becoming much better. Senior Garland Owens is a key returnee, even though he won't score a ton. Owens brings experience, which is critical on such a young team, and he can also play both forward positions. Western Michigan transfer Connar Tava has a diverse offensive game and could vie for immediate playing time.
OVERALL: BC was the only major-conference team to not record a single conference win in 2015-2016, and things could get even worse without Carter. However, head coach Jim Christian has brought in some fabulous young talent (Robinson and Turner) and the future is brighter. While Eagles' fans can take solace in that, they shouldn't be climbing out of the cellar this year.