RTC Conference Primers: #4 – Atlantic Coast Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 3rd, 2011

Matt Patton of RTC’s ACC Microsite is the RTC correspondent for the ACC. You can find him on Twitter @rise_and_fire.

Reader’s Take I

The ACC looks like it has three tiers this year. The top: North Carolina, Duke and Florida State. The bottom: Boston College, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. And then there’s everyone else.


Top Storylines

  • Can North Carolina Win Its Third Ring in the Roy Williams Era?: By all counts, yes. And to this point I haven’t heard any “undefeated” nonsense from anywhere, which means people’s expectations aren’t totally out to lunch. There are several other very good teams this year. Last year’s Tar Heel team wasn’t unstoppable, even at the end of the season (they lost to a #4 seed, remember?); I don’t expect them to be unstoppable this year, either. But if you’re looking for the most complete team with the fewest unknowns, you won’t find it anywhere else in college basketball. My one peeve with the offseason coverage of this team is the idea that four of the five starters should be first team All-ACC (or even All-American). There are only so many possessions in a basketball game. Only so many players can be integral. Part of the intimidating nature of this team on paper is that no one player controls the team’s fate: On any given night, Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller or John Henson are all candidates to blow up the scoreboard (though in Henson’s case, it’s usually keeping opponents off it). It’s the fact that the combination could be more than the sum of its parts that makes the Tar Heels a lock for preseason number one.

Another Season, Another Set of Huge Expectations in Chapel Hill

  • Will Florida State Challenge Tobacco Road And Make The ACC Interesting Again?: Yes. I was pretty low on Florida State for my summer update, but I’m currently very high on the Seminoles. Specifically, I think Bernard James is the best defender in the country (though John Henson is a significantly better rebounder), and Jeff Peterson will be able to find offense more effectively than Chris Singleton and Derwin Kitchen last season. Oh, and the Seminoles are also hungry after an ugly loss to VCU left them stranded in the Sweet Sixteen last year (and they then had to watch the Rams march on to the Final Four).
  • How Will This Year’s Batch Of New Coaches Fare?: I think Jim Larranaga will objectively perform the best, but I also think he has the most talent at his disposal. Against my better judgment, I’m warming up to this NC State team and Mark Gottfried’s leadership (at least for the first few years). As for Georgia Tech and Brian Gregory, yikes. There’s been a little recent buzz about the Yellow Jackets being better than people expect (which is a very low threshold), but I don’t see it. Gregory has an undermanned roster full of guys he didn’t recruit with nothing to speak of in the post, and he doesn’t have a dedicated home court. Not the combination for success. In College Park, Mark Turgeon should return Maryland to regular conference title contenders again once he reopens the pipeline to Washington, D.C., talent.
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A Finalized 2012 Recruiting Class For UNC And Déjà Vu For NC State

Posted by KCarpenter on October 26th, 2011

This morning, Brice Johnson, a wiry 6’9″ power forward from South Carolina, confirmed that he is indeed headed for North Carolina.  Johnson is a four-star, top fifty recruit in the class of 2012, and, perhaps more critically, represents the final available scholarship that UNC had to offer. Johnson to UNC has big repercussions for North Carolina State and potentially Georgetown. T.J. Warren, a top 25 recruit and one of the best uncommitted small forwards in the class of 2012 seemed like he was well on the way to being Chapel Hill-bound after a very good visit to Carolina’s version of Midnight Madness. Shortly after the Johnson news broke, however, Warren sent a text to CBS Sports, telling them that he will make his decision next week and that he will be choosing between Georgetown and NCSU.

Did P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock Cause UNC To Pass on T.J. Warren?

While it might seem puzzling at first for UNC to pass on what at first glance seems to be the superior talent, taking Johnson over Warren is probably a savvy move that will fit the 2011-12 roster better. While the starting small forward Harrison Barnes has a very good chance to enter the NBA draft next season, the Tar Heels would remain overstocked at the wings with Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston both logical candidates to inherit the position when Barnes leaves. At the power forward position, UNC might be more in more trouble: Tyler Zeller is due to graduate and John Henson and James McAdoo are projected NBA lottery picks in 2012. If both were to leave for the pros next summer, North Carolina would find itself with a significant talent void down low. Warren may ultimately prove to be better than Johnson, but for the forseeable future, Johnson fits Roy Williams’ needs more effectively and was probably a better use for North Carolina’s final scholarship spot on the roster.

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Of Polls and Quotes: ACC’s Operation Basketball

Posted by KCarpenter on October 20th, 2011

The Atlantic Coast Conference likes to get a little fanciful sometimes. What most conferences would simply call a “media day” gets a grander name in the ACC: Operation Basketball. A little over the top, but what can you do? In any case, it’s a fun event where all the coaches and a handful of players commit to talking to the press all day long, giving interview after interview while the media expresses its gratitude the only way it knows how: by taking a pre-season poll and naming preseason all-ACC Teams!

Several Heels Find Themselve as Preseason all-ACCers

The short story of the poll and the preseason awards is unsurprising: North Carolina was tabbed as the number one team, though not unanimously as two rogue voters put Duke at the number one spot. In a somewhat surprising development, Wake Forest was not picked to finish last. That honor instead went to Steve Donahue’s ultra-young Boston College. Equally surprising was the vote for Player of the Year where Harrison Barnes was not the unanimous pick. That’s not really too shocking by itself but the the only other player receiving POY votes was John Henson , who received the only two other votes that didn’t go to his teammate. At least a couple of ACC beat journalists must really love defense.

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CBS’s “Top 100 Players in College Basketball” Is A Very Silly List

Posted by KCarpenter on October 19th, 2011

We all know that lists of top players tend to be very silly. For a sport as big and expansive as college basketball, these lists can quickly become incredibly silly. Strange inclusions and weird snubs are almost inevitable. That said, the latest CBS Sports list of The Top 100 Players in College Basketball is just ridiculous. Still, lists are fun so let’s talk about this one and all the reasons that it’s just goofy.

All Systems Silly (CBSSports.com)

Of the top 100 players in college basketball, twelve are from the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Of the twelve best players in the ACC, half of them come from North Carolina, a quarter of them come from Duke, and one player each comes from N.C. State, Miami and Virginia. Here is the list of rankings, players, and schools. Below that, we’ll have ourselves a talk.

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ACC Morning Five: 10.14.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 14th, 2011

  1. AP: President Obama will be joining Michigan State and North Carolina for the Carrier Classic this November. Tickets aren’t being sold to the public, as the US Carl Vinson is a working aircraft carrier. Roy Williams is excited, having this to say (in his own Roy Williams way): “This is one of the biggest thrills in my coaching career, to be involved in that kind of game […] It really is as neat of a deal as you can possibly imagine.” Even though Michigan State is in a relative “rebuilding year” and UNC is atop the preseason polls, I expect the game to be a good one. Now the only question is who the President will pull for?
  2. GoUpstate.com: Brad Brownell had a very impressive campaign last year, leading Clemson to its first NCAA victory in over fifteen years. That said, things are about to get real for the second-year coach, who lost much of his core from last year’s team. This year “defense will be Clemson’s identity,” which makes at least two ACC coaches who value the defensive side of the court above all else. If you want my guess though, I think the Tigers will be very much in the thick of things for fourth place in the conference (behind UNC, Duke and Florida State) come March.
  3. Winston-Salem Journal: “Deacons’ [Jeff] Bzdelik says he’s sleeping easier this year” is quite a title, especially coming off of a historically bad season. What the second-year coach means is he’s not worrying about players’ behavior off the court and getting telephone calls in the wee hours. The good news for Wake Forest fans is Bzdelik is very optimistic about this team’s attitude: “Maturity” is the biggest difference between this and last year’s teams. The bad news is the program hemorrhaged players and will still be quite low on talent.
  4. Sports Illustrated: Luke Winn’s 16 Impact Freshmen showcases two ACC newcomers from Tobacco Road. North Carolina’s James McAdoo checks in at #11, though he’d almost certainly be higher if the Tar Heels’ frontcourt wasn’t so loaded this year. Just down the way at Duke Austin Rivers takes the top spot, as he’ll be critical to the Blue Devils’ offense next season. The accompanying slideshow is a good look at some of the bright young stars you should expect to see on college basketball’s stage starting next month.
  5. Charlotte Observer: North Carolina announced that Roy Williams‘ contract has been extended through 2018 along with women’s basketball head coach Sylvia Hatchell. One interesting side note is that Hatchell will actually have a higher base salary than Williams ($360,000 compared to $325,000), though Williams also has somewhere on the order of $1.5 million dollars in supplemental income. In 2018 Williams will be 68 and probably in or at least nearing retirement.
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A Trip to the Vault: North Carolina and Michigan State Face Off in the 2005 Final Four

Posted by mpatton on October 7th, 2011

Until the season kicks off, we’re going to be taking weekly trips to the ACC and NCAA Vaults to look at classic ACC games of yore.

Rashad McCants

Rashad McCants' college career is sometimes overshadowed by his failed stint in the NBA.

In honor of the upcoming Carrier Classic between Michigan State and North Carolina, here’s a look back at the 2005 Final Four game between the Spartans and Tar Heels. Watching the game was also a great reminder of just how good Roy Williams‘ 2004-05 squad was (especially with regards to depth). The 2005 national championship team probably had a talent advantage over the current team at every position:

  • Point Guard: Raymond Felton over Kendall Marshall
  • Shooting Guard: Rashad McCants over Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullock
  • Forward: Jackie Manuel, David Noel, Jawad Williams and Marvin Williams over Harrison Barnes, John Henson and James McAdoo (this is the most up-in-the-air position, but I’d give the 2005 team a slight advantage for going four players deep)
  • Center: Sean May over Tyler Zeller

See highlights and analysis after the jump.

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Analyzing the Top Ten Recruiting Classes of 2011

Posted by zhayes9 on October 7th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

In this era of one-and-done, where every touted freshman and blue-chip prospect must lace up the sneakers in college for at least a season, recruiting has never been more important.

As recently as a decade ago, programs were built, legacies were formed and trophies were hoisted on the basis of developing and grooming four-year players. In 2003, freshman Carmelo Anthony bucked that trend by carrying his Syracuse team to a national title. When David Stern instituted an age limit to participate professionally, impact players such as Greg Oden, Kevin Love and Derrick Rose may have only dipped their toes in the collegiate water, but the Final Four berths won’t soon be forgotten.

This upcoming season, college basketball hasn’t been gutted as dramatically as in the past. Assumed lottery picks passed on the immediate NBA riches whether in fears of a prolonged lockout or simply to accomplish goals left unmet. A plethora of battle-tested seniors also make their dramatic return. Despite this welcomed development, freshmen will still have their say in who grabs the four all-important #1 seeds and who ultimately graces the hardwood in Indianapolis next April.

Here are the ten teams primed to receive a substantial contribution from their talented newcomers this upcoming season:

1. Kentucky– Brandon Knight is the latest Calipari-coached freshman to bolt early for the pros. Luckily for Big Blue, their coach’s recruiting skills hasn’t eroded in the least bit. In pretty much any other freshman class in the country, Kyle Wiltjer would top the list; in Lexington, he’s easily the fourth-best rookie on the squad. The headliner is center Anthony Davis, the early favorite to be selected first overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.  The Chicago native reminds many scouts of a young Kevin Garnett with his tremendous versatility, remarkable athleticism and exceptional rebounding abilities. Formerly a lightly-recruited guard prior to a timely growth spurt, Davis is more than comfortable handling the ball around the perimeter. Taking over at point guard for Knight is Marquis Teague, a lightning-fast lead guard and the younger brother of former Wake Forest and current Hawks reserve Jeff Teague. Teague is a better fit for Calipari’s preferred dribble-drive motion offense than the ball-screen dependent Knight. The third potential freshman starter is St. Patrick’s own Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Gilchrist is an intense competitor and will be absolute joy for Calipari to coach. Witjer should prove a valuable backup big man with a refined perimeter game.

Anthony Davis/kentuckysportsradio.com

2. Duke– Losing your three most productive players – two face-of-the-program seniors and a point guard that just happened to be chosen #1 overall — would result in a multi-year rebuilding process at most schools. Most schools aren’t Duke, and the Blue Devils are once again expected to compete in the top ten. The biggest reason why is Austin Rivers. Easily the best scoring guard in the freshman ranks, Rivers is a legitimate threat to average 17-20 PPG during his first (and likely only) season in Durham. Rivers does possess the ability to create his own shot, but could struggle to get opportune looks until Seth Curry develops a comfort level at point guard. Oak Hill’s Quinn Cook is expected to compete for minutes at the point once he recovers from a knee injury. He appears destined to be Duke’s floor general of the future. Cook is a born leader that has one priority: to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. How deep Coach K opts to utilize his bench will determine the playing time of wings Michael Gbinije and Alex Murphy, along with the third Plumlee brother, Marshall Plumlee. All three will be regular contributors down the road. Once Murphy develops some strength, he could be the best of the lot as a scoring threat with sneaky athleticism.

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RTC Summer Updates: Atlantic Coast Conference

Posted by jstevrtc on July 21st, 2011

With the the NBA Draft concluded and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. The latest update comes courtesy of our ACC correspondent, Matt Patton.

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • New Faces: That’s right, the ACC will be totally different conference this season. Only five of the fifteen players selected as to the all-conference teams will be running the floor this season, namely four of North Carolina’s five starters (with Miami’s Malcolm Grant keeping the group from being only Tar Heels). Somewhat surprisingly, all of the ACC all-freshman squad will be back in action. Duke’s Kyrie Irving was a prominent frosh, but he didn’t play a single conference game before leaving school and UNC’s Harrison Barnes opted to return for his sophomore campaign. Keep an eye on Wake Forest’s Travis McKie and Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin especially. Both should be the stars on their respective teams.
  • However, the strength of the conference will rely heavily on the incoming players and coaches. Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Florida State all bring in consensus top 25 classes according to ESPN, Rivals and Scout. To make a long story short, the rich get richer. Duke’s Austin Rivers (ranked 1st by Rivals, 2nd by Scout and ESPNU) will be expected to contribute immediately, while North Carolina’s James McAdoo (8th by Rivals, 4th by Scout and 5th by ESPNU) and PJ Hairston (13th by Rivals, 20th by Scout and 12th by ESPNU) should be given ample time to find roles on an already stacked team.
  • Arguably more important, at least in the long term, are the new coaches: NC State welcomes Mark Gottfried, Miami welcomes Jim Larranaga, Maryland welcomes Mark Turgeon, and Georgia Tech welcomes Brian Gregory to the conference. The only coach I think is a surefire “upgrade” is Larranaga, who comes with some disadvantages (namely, age). While Gottfried experienced some success at Alabama, the Crimson Tide isn’t known as a basketball powerhouse and he didn’t leave the school on great terms. I also don’t think it’s a great sign that Ryan Harrow left for the bluer pastures of Kentucky. Gregory, though, sticks out as the strangest hire of the four. He had a fairly nondescript tenure at Dayton with many Flyer fans happy to see him leave. I know a tight budget hamstrung by Paul Hewitt’s hefty buyout deal probably kept the Yellow Jackets from going after the sexiest candidates, but the choice still surprised me. Gregory’s biggest disadvantage is his ugly, grind-it-out style of play that will eventually make it difficult to attract top recruits and could possibly alienate the entire GT fanbase (see: Herb Sendek).
  • North Carolina Navigates Investigation Waters: Finally, it may not be basketball-related, but it’s impossible to mention this offseason without discussing North Carolina’s impending date with the NCAA Committee of Infractions. The story has dominated ACC sports news. To briefly sum things up, the Tar Heels had an assistant coach, John Blake, on the payroll of an agent. If that wasn’t enough, the NCAA investigation unveiled thousands (I’m not kidding) of dollars in unpaid parking tickets and even several cases of academic fraud. The university has come out very firmly saying these infractions only involved the football team** but the scandal has gained national notoriety. (**Author’s note: the one connection with the basketball team is that Greg Little was one of UNC’s ineligible football players. Little was also a walk-on for the basketball team during the 2007-08 season, playing in ten games. North Carolina has said that his infractions occurred after his year with the basketball team, so no win vacations are in the basketball team’s future.)
  • Somehow, despite academic fraud, ineligible benefits and an agent runner on staff, the Tar Heels failed to get the NCAA’s most serious “lack of institutional control” violation for what appeared to be nothing less thana lack of institutional control. Again, this scandal is confined to football, but it’s one of the many recent scandals that have come to light in big time college athletics in the last couple of years (Connecticut, USC, Ohio State, Oregon, etc). These scandals could force the NCAA to augment its rules somewhat, and even though they may not directly relate to basketball, they may have a very real impact of college sports as we know it over the next few years.

    Freshman phenom Austin Rivers is ready for Duke, but how quickly will 2011's top high school point guard perform on the big stage? (Orlando Sentinel)

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Who’s Got Next? UConn Grabs Calhoun, Tough Week For Tech, & Teague Carries Indiana…

Posted by Josh Paunil on June 14th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Twice a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.


Freshmen and sophomores dominated in Colorado Springs last week during the USA U-16 developmental team training camp while the best point guard in the Class of 2011 hit a buzzer beater to win a fiercely competitive interstate all-star game. A few top ten stars in the Class of 2012 also announced new lists, new visits and new favorites as Jim Calhoun and the Connecticut Huskies continued their dominance on the recruiting trail. An article on the fastest rising junior in the country was another must-read as we take you into this edition of Who’s Got Next?

What They’re Saying

Kaleb Tarczewski (#6) spoke about his Kansas visit. (NY2LA Sports)

  • Junior Kaleb Tarczewski (#6) on his Kansas visit: “It was really good, I really like it there. This trip was really for my mom. She hadn’t been there yet and I wanted her to see it.”
  • Sophomore standout Allerik Freeman on some schools on his list: “Florida is a great program with a great staff. NC State is on the right tracking trying to get back to the national spotlight. Georgetown has a rich tradition, and great staff with a nice offense. Tennessee is a place where my game fits in great.”
  • Omar Calhoun, Sr., on his son, junior Omar Calhoun, Jr., committing to Connecticut: “After spending time with [head] coach [Jim] Calhoun and the rest of the coaching staff, we felt it was a place we needed to be. He believes he fits well… coach Calhoun has had a tremendous amount of success with NYC guards.”
  • Junior Ricardo Ledo (#9) on what’s factoring in on his decision: “I want to go somewhere I can win. Playing time is also important.”
  • Junior Rodney Purvis (#7) on his Missouri visit: “It was great and fun. The visit was not what I expected!”
  • Junior Archie Goodwin (#19) on Kentucky head coach John Calipari: “He’s just a great person. He helps people excel and fulfill their dreams.”
  • Junior Jordan Price on his commitment to Auburn: “I just felt like it was the best fit for me and my family. It’s not too far away from my home so family and friends can come watch.”
  • Class of 2012 center Landen Lucas on his Kansas visit: “Loved it! [Assistant] coach [Danny] Manning stood out because of how well he develops bigs and gets them to the next level.”
  • Don Showalter on players who stood out at the USA U-16 Developmental Team tryouts: “[Class of 2013 Watch List power forwards Jabari] Parker and [Aaron] Gordon really stood out, they are really, really good players. They are going to be the best players in the tournament, no question. We started there and built around them.”
  • Senior Norvel Pelle on why he committed to St. John’s: “I wanted to get the best of both worlds. It’s a perfect opportunity with their new class of freshman and being in New York. I have a good relationship with the whole coaching staff and we try to connect on a daily basis. They’re all down to earth and chill.”

What We Learned

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Who’s Got Next? Pangos All-American Camp, UNC Spotlight, Twitter Trouble and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on June 3rd, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Twice a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.


Last week it was the Nike EYBL, this week it’s the Pangos All-American Camp. Last week Class of 2012 small forward Shabazz Muhammad (#3) got his own section and this week Class of 2013 power forward Julius Randle (Watch List) gets his own section. Last week Class of 2012 point guard L.J. Rose (#20) named UCLA as a favorite and this week he elaborated on that. As you can tell, there are a lot of parallels between last week’s column and this week’s column but there are some things (or should I say people) that weren’t mentioned in the previous Who’s Got Next? column: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain, Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Candace Parker and ‘The Jewish Jordan”… not to mention a Twitter recruiting scandal.

What They’re Saying

Junior Brandon Ashley (#4) looks to cut his list in the next couple of weeks.

  • Junior Brandon Ashley (#4) on when he will make his decision: “I’m hoping to cut everything down in the next two or three weeks, maybe to a top ten, make my decision probably in the early signing period.”
  • Junior Rodney Purvis (#7) on his list of schools: “Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina State and Memphis.” On what position he’ll play in college: “Most of the coaches I’ve talked to feel I’ll be most successful as a combo guard.”
  • Junior L.J. Rose (#20) on why he took a visit to UCLA this past weekend: “I’ve built a great relationship with [UCLA] head coach Ben Howland.”
  • Junior Elijah Macon on the schools recruiting him the hardest: “Miami, Maryland, West Virginia and South Florida are on me hard.”
  • Sophomore standout Solomon Poole on what he’s looking for in a college: “First, academics. You can’t get anywhere without that. And a coach that makes you better. I want him to tell me what I’m doing wrong.”
  • Fantastic Freshman Trey Gundy on his favorite school: “I’m a Kentucky fan, I want to go to UK for college. I am going to keep my options open and see what’s best for me, but I bleed blue.”
  • IMG Academy head coach Andy Borman on when senior DeAndre Daniels will commit: “There is no timetable.”

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