ACC Stock Watch – Week One

Posted by Lathan Wells on November 21st, 2014

Each week here at the microsite we’ll take a look at which ACC teams and players are trending up, down, or remaining flat. It’s still very early in the season, but there are some trends to be gleaned from the first week of opening games. Let’s take a look below:

Trending Up

  • Duke. Despite all of the preseason hype placed on Duke’s freshmen (Jahlil Okafor in particular) and speculative questions about overall team chemistry, the Blue Devils have looked the part of a title contender thus far. Their blowouts over Presbyterian and Fairfield may not have convinced anyone, but their wire-to-wire victory over Michigan State showed that Duke is already in top form.
  • Miami. The Hurricanes’ early returns on their big-name transfers have been outstanding. Sheldon McClellan (from Texas) is putting up 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game through two contests, and former Kansas State point guard Angel Rodriguez is not only averaging a team-high 18.3 points per contest, but he also hit the game-winning three over rival Florida that ended the Gators’ 33-game home winning streak. Pretty solid start for Jim Larranaga’s newcomers.
Angel Rodriguez has brought pleasant early returns for Miami (USA Today Sports)

Angel Rodriguez has produced pleasant early returns for Miami (USA Today Sports)

  • Virginia Tech. Why are the Hokies trending up when they only have wins over Maryland-Eastern Shore and Liberty? Well, go back in time one year ago and Virginia Tech had just lost its season opener to South Carolina Upstate. At a minimum, Buzz Williams has his team beating the teams it should beat, something last year’s group couldn’t boast. Freshman Justin Bibbs’ solid start to the season has been a pleasant surprise as well.

  • Quinn Cook, Duke. Cook had the difficult task of giving up his ball-handling duties to freshman phenom Tyus Jones so he could move to the two-guard position. All he’s done with the transition is merely put up nearly 17 points per game in three contests, hitting a sterling 55.6 percent from three-point range. Everything Cook said in the preseason about being content with his new role and doing whatever is asked of him has certainly held true in the early going.
  • Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina. Meeks shed 20 pounds in the offseason so he could stay on the floor longer and be more active in transition, and his early work for the Tar Heels has been excellent. In two early wins for North Carolina, Meeks has contributed 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, and his high-low game with Brice Johnson already appears in midseason form.


  • Jahlil Okafor, Duke. Everything we thought he could be has been true, so he certainly can’t be trending upwards. This isn’t meant in any way to be a slight on the Duke center; he appears to be the best prototypical big men to come into college basketball in years.
  • Montrezl Harrell, Louisville. Another player who could be on the ‘Trending Up’ line in the sense of great play, Harrell has simply performed like the player we expected, an ACC Player of the Year and Wooden Award contender. An argument for elevating him due to his improved outside shooting acumen has merits, though.

Trending Down

  • North Carolina’s hopes for three-point shooting reinforcements. After a season when only Marcus Paige proved deadly from long range, the Tar Heels were hoping for outside shooting improvement from holdovers like Nate Britt and J.P. Tokoto and newfound production from freshmen like Justin Jackson and Joel Berry. Instead, the team is 6-of-27 from three through the first two contests, with Paige going 4-of-8 on those. While the Tar Heels’ big men have controlled both early contests, this weakness has to improve for the Heels to live up to expectations.
  • Florida State. A team we here at RTC thought would make some noise this year, the Seminoles are only 1-1 so far with a puzzling loss to Northeastern. Perhaps more troubling is the porous perimeter defense Florida State has exhibited — both Northeastern and Manhattan have combined to go 18-of-33 from deep in the Seminoles’ first two match-ups. That does not sound like a Leonard Hamilton-coached defense.
  • Kaleb Joseph, Syracuse. To be fair, Joseph is a freshman who has been tasked with replacing the unflappable Tyler Ennis’ amazing performance of a year ago. But Syracuse has looked unsteady offensively, both in its second game against Hampton when it finally pulled away late and on Thursday night when California disposed of the Orange easily. Joseph is only scoring 7.0 points per game so far, and while he’s also averaging 5.0 assists per outing his 3.3 turnovers per game counteracts the positive dime-dropping that he’s doing. Syracuse lost a light of firepower from last season’s team, so piling all the blame on its freshman floor general is unfair. Nonetheless, Joseph’s inability to get this offense into a rhythm early has already contributed to their 2-1 start.
Lathan Wells (77 Posts)

A 30-year old unabashed college basketball fan, I currently reside in Richmond, Virginia. I especially enjoy following the ACC and the local teams, VCU and the University of Richmond. I hope to continue my journalistic pursuits in the sports arena full-time in the future, but in the meantime I am really enjoying covering the greatest sport there is for RTC. Follow me on Twitter @prohibitivefav.

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