Hoops culture shock on the way for ACC fans?
Posted October 30, 2013
Updated October 31, 2013
If the Oct. 16 preseason All-ACC basketball team media predictions turn out to be reasonably on target, expansion repercussions on the individual talent front could leave many fans in culture shock.
The five players picked by the media folks who gathered in Charlotte for Operation ACC Basketball included only one – Virginia guard Joe Harris – who is readily familiar to mainstream league fans.
Harris, a 6-6 senior from Chelan, Wash., was voted first-team all-league in 2012-13 after averaging 16.3 points per game on a team that finished 11-7 in the ACC and 23-12 overall.
The remaining four preseason all-league picks included two former Big East stars – C.J. Fair of Syracuse (6-8, senior) and Jerian Grant of Notre Dame (6-5, senior) – along with Duke newcomers Jabari Parker (6-8, freshman) and Rodney Hood, a 6-8 transfer from Mississippi State.
Fair edged Harris in the voting for preseason player of the year.
Among those who failed to land enough votes to crack the top five were:
- North Carolina’s P.J. Hairston (6-6, junior, 14.6 ppg last season) and James Michael McAdoo (6-9, junior, 14.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg).
- N.C. State’s T.J. Warren (6-8, soph, 12.1 pgg, 4.2 rpg).
- Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan (6-4, sophomore, 15.4 ppg, ’12-’13 rookie of the year) and Ryan Anderson (6-9, junior, 14.9 pgg).
- Florida State’s Okaro White (6-8, senior, 12.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg).
- Maryland’s Dez Wells (6-5, junior, 13.1 ppg, 4.8 rpb).
- Virginia’s Akil Mitchell (6-8, senior, 13.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg).
- Wake Forest’s Travis McKie (6-7, senior, 13.5 ppg, 7 rpg) and Devin Thomas (6-9, sophomore, 9.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg).
Hairston’s uncertain status with the NCAA no doubt contributed to his omission from the top five, but McAdoo was a second-team all-conference selection last season by both the coaches and media.
At almost any other point during the past 60 seasons, McAdoo would have been a lock for a preseason first-team spot. Among the top 10 vote-getters in both polls last season, the lone returnees are Harris and McAdoo.
PUSH WILL COME FOR 10-MAN ‘1ST TEAM’
Obviously, Fair (14.5, 7 rpg last season on a 30-10, 11-7 Big East team) and Grant (13.3 ppg, 5.5 assists on a 25-10, 11-7 Big East team) deserve the recognition. For that matter, Pitt senior forward Lamar Patterson (10 pgg, 4.3 rpg) deserved some consideration.
But the move from 12 to 15 teams – with powerful Louisville en route – has changed the individual awards dynamic to the extent that the coaches almost certainly will push for a 10-player all-league “first team” soon.
Even among the most traditionally powerful teams, landing preseason and post-season all-conference berths can be powerful recruiting lures. Fans may put little emphasis on the teams – especially so on preseason teams – but many high school prospects pay close attention to any and all things related to exposure.
Miami’s Shane Larkin, last season’s ACC player of the year, was not a voting factor in the preseason and said it provided him with season-long incentive.
“Players don’t make a big deal about it, but they do follow those votes. You want to see that the media and coaches put some stock in your game,” he said late in the schedule.
Larkin’s emergence as the top-player winner was as much a case of a long shot delivering as the ACC had seen in years.
The all-time stunners probably hit way back in 1969, four seasons before freshman were eligible for varsity play.
That season, then-ACC member South Carolina was expected to be a cellar contender simply because Frank McGuire was relying on a group of sophomores – John Roche, Billy Walsh, Tom Owens and John Ribock. The newcomers, along with junior Bobby Cremins, were placing some of the best and most experienced players in the program’s history – Skip Harlicka, Gary Gregor, Frank Standard and Jack Thompson.
“We’ll stink this year, but we should be better next season when the guys have learned the ropes,” McGuire said during preseason interviews.
The Gamecocks promptly went 21-7 (11-3 conference) and Roche won the top-player award over UNC’s Charles Scott and Owens (2nd team all-league) led the league in rebounding.
Similar stunners are likely on the way.