ACC Stock Report: Volume 1

Posted by Matt Auerbach on January 8th, 2019

With the non-conference portion of the season now in the rearview and the ACC schedule tipping in earnest last weekend, it feels like the appropriate time to assess a few programs and players in this year’s initial stock report.

Stock Up

Elijah Hughes: When considering Syracuse’s chances to contend at the top of the league, the preseason focus was on the returns of Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett. And while both have been good, it is perhaps Hughes, the transfer from East Carolina, who has been the most consistent player for the Orange. Coming off Saturday’s 22-point, 10-rebound game in a victory at Notre Dame — both career highs — Hughes is now second on the team in scoring, third in rebounding, and is by far the team’s best threat from long range with 36 made triples. Notching double-figures in all but two games, the 6’6” swingman has been a pleasant surprise for Jim Boeheim during a season that has been a bit more uneven than some (guilty as charged) presumed before it started.

Kyle Guy: Unlike Hughes, big things were expected from the 6’3” Virginia marksman who was coming off a sophomore campaign where he earned All-ACC first team honors and a third team All-America nod. As a junior, Guy is leading the undefeated Cavaliers in scoring just as he did a year ago, but the improvements in his game have been obvious both visually and statistically. Guy’s shot creativity and ability to elevate quickly over bigger defenders off the bounce is an addition to his always lethal shooting coming off curl screens in set plays. His offensive rating is up from 105.2 to 126.4, while his true shooting percentage has similarly seen a 12 percent spike, thanks to a career best 48.3 percent mark from inside of the arc. The Virginia star’s money is made from beyond the arc, however, and after blistering Florida State in the league opener by making five of six attempts, Guy now ranks 42nd in the nation, making 41 of his 85 three attempts.  

Stock Steady

Zion Williamson’s dunking skills: Personally, I found it spectacular, but in stealing the ball at halfcourt and finishing a one-man break with a 360-degree slam, Williamson rated the stunning display of athleticism, grace and power a “seven or eight.” If we have yet to see the best from the current leader in the race for the KenPom player of the year, as he himself suggests, then, well, good luck to everyone else.

North Carolina and NC State: The intrastate rivals both held serve in their openers over the weekend, with the Tar Heels blasting Pittsburgh and the Wolfpack overcoming a late double-figure deficit to win at Miami. This sets up a very intriguing match-up tonight in Raleigh, as Kevin Keatts’ upstart squad has its second chance in three weeks to announce itself to the nation as a legitimate contender.

Stock Down

Wake Forest: While home losses to Houston Baptist and Gardner-Webb should not be dismissed, the fashion in which the Demon Deacons opened the conference slate on Saturday could be the nadir of the campaign. In allowing 92 points to an offensively inept Georgia Tech team, Wake allowed Josh Pastner’s group to score its most points in a conference game in 14 seasons. James Banks, who was limited to four points against USC Upstate in his previous game, scored 20 to pace a team, that even after this offensive explosion, still rates as the 205th most efficient offense nationally. Danny Manning’s charges are now 7-6, host Duke tonight, and are projected to finish dead last, at 3-15 in the league, via KenPom.

Miami: It seems as though the wheels have fallen off in Coral Gables and there may not be a way to get them back on this season. After a 5-0 start, the Hurricanes have now dropped six of nine contests, including a pair of conference games to North Carolina State and Louisville. In fact, Miami has yet to beat a Power 5 school this season, and are now projected to finish under .500 overall. If that happens, it will be the first Jim Larranaga team to do so since his 1997-98 George Mason squad.

Matthew Auerbach (70 Posts)

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