ACC Offseason Storylines to Follow

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on April 11th, 2018

With the 2017-18 season in the books, here are a few ACC storylines to follow over the next several months. 

FBI Investigation / NCAA Action

Last September the college basketball world was rocked by news that the FBI was sticking its nose into the seedy underbelly of the sport’s recruiting practices. Several prominent programs were identified as involved in pay-for-play schemes, with ACC members Louisville and Miami experiencing significant subsequent fallout from those allegations. The Cardinals, for example, fired Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino right before the start of practice, leaving inexperienced assistant coach David Padgett to lead the team to a disappointing NIT berth. Furthermore, the NCAA is expected to eventually revisit its sanctions against the Louisville program from the stripper scandal to determine if more penalties are warranted. At Miami, head coach Jim Larranaga saw his integrity questioned for the first time in his lengthy career, which may have affected his team’s performance on the floor which culminated in a forgettable 0-2 postseason. The greater impact of the FBI probe on the two schools has unquestionably been in recruiting – neither team has yet to sign a newcomer for the 2018-19 campaign, leaving incredibly thin rosters in place heading into this offseason.

Jim Larranaga has to rebuild his reputation as well as Miami’s roster in the wake of the FBI’s investigation into NCAA basketball recruiting. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

After the FBI case was initially made public, the implication was that many more schools and athletes would eventually be caught up in the government’s web of wiretaps, plea bargains and confessions. We didn’t hear any more information from the FBI until this week, however, when the government claimed that at least one member of the N.C. State coaching staff was allegedly involved in a cash payment to the family of Dennis Smith in late 2015. So far, all of the allegations involve schools and players tied to the shoe company Adidas, but if shenanigans related to Nike are also exposed, expect a number of prominent other schools (including ACC heavyweights) to be affected. While we wait on further developments in this expanding case, it’s already worth noting that the credibility of one of the FBI star witnesses as well as the conduct of one of its chief investigators has been called into question. Stay tuned.

Rule Changes – On and off the Court

In response to the ongoing FBI investigation, the NCAA formed a committee to study the state of college basketball and provide actionable recommendations to clean up the game. That committee, chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is expected to announce its findings and recommendations later this month. NCAA President Mark Emmert says that the NCAA will then take “decisive action” in response to those recommendations. Although we applaud the decision to bring smart people together to examine the sport’s overriding issues, we remain skeptical of how much impact the organization can have. The NCAA will most likely adopt new guidelines for how agents and shoe company representatives interact with coaches and potential recruits while keeping an outdated collegiate amateur model intact. In an ideal world the NCAA will surprise everyone by attacking the reasons we have such problems in the first place.

Additionally, the NCAA can make on-court changes to college basketball every two years so some new rules may be coming our way as well. Several possible changes were already on display during this season’s NIT. One innovation we’d like to see is having the men’s college game move to 10-minute quarters – college basketball is currently the only form of the sport that doesn’t organize itself that way. This move would provide better flow to the game – instead of four scheduled media timeouts per 20 minutes, there would be just two along with one extended break between the quarters. Team fouls would also be reset at the end of each period, with bonus free throws beginning after the fifth team foul of each quarter — this would help avoid the yawn-inducing 12-minute parade to the foul line that frequently occurs by reaching the bonus early in a half. We’d also be in favor of moving the three-point line out by a foot or more to better challenge modern shooters in the Curry era and correspondingly open the floor more. We should know in May if any of these potential new rules will be adopted in time for next season.

Roster Turnover Continues

Jeff Capel has a major rebuilding job to do with Pittsburgh’s roster.
(Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

Since Villanova was crowned the National Champion a little over a week ago, there have already been a number of ACC defections via transfer or early entry to the professional ranks. Some notable players transferring away include C.J. Walker (Florida State), Keyshawn Woods (Wake Forest) and Matthew Moyer (Syracuse). As for early entries, here’s an updated list of which players have declared and those who may still decide to return to school — the deadline to pull out of the NBA Draft is May 30. Several important players who will not be back in the ACC next year include Miami’s Bruce Brown and Lonnie Walker; Louisville’s Deng Adel and Ray Spalding; N.C. State’s Omer Yurtseven; and all four freshman starters from Duke — Marvin Bagley, Gary Trent and Trevon Duval have already announced, while Wendell Carter should soon make it official. Among some other key players who may not return are several whose decisions will greatly impact the projected league standings for next year. Included in that group are the highly regarded backcourts of Boston College (Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman) and Clemson (Marcquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell), along with Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie (declared but eligible to return) and Syracuse’s Tyus Battle.

Louisville and Miami are not the only ACC schools in need of bodies for next season. New Pittsburgh head coach Jeff Capel has his hands full in both rebuilding his roster quality and quantity. During this spring and summer, expect all three schools to be actively hunting for available talent in search of players who are eligible to compete immediately.

Brad Jenkins (383 Posts)

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