Plenty of talent but not much upperclassmen leadership, like a couple of years ago when Zeller was the junior but had not played all that much due to injuries. The only upperclassmen are Seniors McDonald and Strickland but 2 years of eligibility left, and junior Bullock.
Does not help that their promising PG Paige is hurt and cannot practice for a while. UNC success could hinge on whether he plays like Drew II or like Kendall Marshall.
For purposes of this I won't count transfers who become eligible or guys who never played that may be walk-ons, the leaders in ACC upperclassmen this year are:
7 - Miami [R Brown, Swope, D Scott, McK-Jones, G Adams, Kadij and R Johnson]
6 - GA Tech [D Miller, J Morris, Reed, Holsey, Hicks and Udofia]
5 - NC State [LoBrown, C J Leslie, Howell, Vandenberg and Wood] and Duke assuming Dawkins red-shirts
4 - FSU [O White, Ian Miller, T Shannon and Snaer not counting Turpin]
3 - UVA [J Harris, A Mitchell, J Evans] , VA Tech [C Raines, J Eddie, E Green] and UNC
2 - MD [Stoglin and Padgett] , Clemson [Booker and Jennings], Wake [McKie and C J Harris] and BC [Moton and Rubin]
I may have missed some guys that were coming back from red-shirt injuries.
Having top recruits past 2 years or Euro players can also offset a lack of ACC whiskers.
Miami could be scary. Johnson/Kadji could realistically be the best frontcourt in the country, and Durand Scott isn't a bad complement on the perimeter. Not to mention rising SO Shane Larkin, who was looking like one of the better PGs in the conference late last season.
In fact, why not say the 'Canes, 'Pack, and Devils will fight for #1? Might guess it comes down to unbalanced mess. Heels, too, I suppose, though it's at least plausible to claim Heels have more questions than these other 3, at least in terms of experience [per Kedsy's list and "at risk" comment].
I tend to "rank" teams based on talent, experience, and depth. Unless one thinks McAdoo will be even better than I think he will be - an emerging star - Heels come in 4th on the preseason talent/experience/depth scale.
Does seem as though these 4 are obvious top-tier, yes? Would anyone claim either (a) another team [FSU?] seems on paper ahead of any of these 4, or (2) that we can break down this top tier further?
I'll guess, right now, tiers 1-3:
1. Miami, Duke, NCSt
5. FSU, Md
A belated thanks to DevilBen02 for this good link. Check it out.
Also, looking at your list, I suspect FSU will be closer to UNC than to Maryland, and that UVa and Georgia Tech will both be better than Virginia Tech (who will probably be a complete mess next season; my guess is they'll end up in your bottom tier). Maybe something like:
Tier 1: Duke, NC State, Miami
Tier 2: UNC, Florida State (although either team could possibly fight its way into the upper tier)
Tier 3: Maryland, UVa, Ga Tech
Tier 4: Va Tech, Clemson, BC, Wake
After I get past the top 5 teams - no sure thing those 5, either - I'm mostly lost. I do think Md comes next, as I think Len will be pretty good. Stoglin is returning, yes? Faust can play some, and they have a promising incoming group. But after that, just guessing the order.
But what interests me is your agreement that, on paper [talent/experience/depth], Miami, not UNC, joins Pack and Devils in top tier. I do see your qualifier [UNC or FSU "possibly" top tier], but at least tentatively you, too, think the Heels have more ?-marks and thus drop a little, pre-pre-season.
If other Duke posters join the Miami bandwagon, I'd think outside of some Miami fan-board, EK would be the only place to think so highly of the Canes just now.
UNC and FSU have a lot of questions to answer, but I agree they are above Maryland UVa, and either of the Techs.
By his standards, Malcolm Grant had an awful senior year last year.
Reggie Johnson was hurt in early part of season though you couldn't tell that when he played against Duke.
Dequan Jones was under investigation by NCAA.
Haivng Shane Larkin in place the whole year after his growth in freshman year should pay dividends.
After Hansbrough's freshman year success, I always go with Duke and UNC as two of the top 3 and pick one other.
Right now I would give that edge to NC State over Miami or FSU or MD, but waiting to see the ACC unbalanced schedule before I finalize.
Although I think this will be a slightly down year for the Heels, I don't disagree that they still have talent. On the basis of talent/experience/depth, however, the Heels may have a few more questions than Miami, Duke, NCSt. I'll be surprised, and of course disappointed, if UNC winds up #1 in ACC at end of season. I still have them preseason ACC #4. While I wouldn't say it would be crazy for anyone to claim that, on paper in terms of talent/experience/depth, they're #1, I would say it's a stretch. [I realize Wheat has not made such a prediction here.]
I disagreed with Wheat last year re Strickland's PG skills, who, IMO, will at best share the PG duties with Paige by ACC-time. I may be underestimating Strickland as a steady PG, or overestimating how quickly Paige will emerge. Strickland knows the system, but Paige is the more natural PG.
IIRC, Wheat earlier posted that James, not Johnson, was more likely to get substantial PT. But in this post, Johnson gets a bit more attention. I guess it will come down to which of Hubert, Johnson, and James picks up the system; and maybe which is the best matchup fit from game to game.
I agree that McAdoo will star. Also that Heels have to have some consistency with 3-bombs.
I also agree that Elite Eight is a fair "standard to shoot for," as long as that means for any team preseason top 12-15 nationally. That is, I just don't see the Heels as preseason top 6-8. Too many questions.
Within the ACC, NCSt and Miami especially should be "smelling blood" when they play both Duke and UNC, but especially UNC. UNC should hope it plays Canes only once this season.
To say McDonald has "serious game" is somewhat of an overstatement. He was ranked #44 (RSCI) out of high school, barely played his freshman year, showed himself to be a pretty good outside shooter in limited minutes his sophomore year, and looked poised to increase his role when he was injured before his junior season. Obviously I haven't seen him in practice or anything, but to me he appears to be a role-player/outside threat. Bullock was highly regarded coming out of high school, has good size for a SG/WF swingman, and has shown he can hit an outside shot when left alone. While I expect improvement from him over his middling sophomore season performance, I'll be shocked if Wheat's suggestion that he may be a first round NBA pick after this season comes true.
I expect McAdoo to be a first team All-ACC performer. I need to see more before I believe he'll be the kind of player who can carry an otherwise mediocre team on his back. As far as UNC's other big player, the team should feel fortunate if they get consistent defense and rebounding from that spot.
As far as Final Eight being something UNC could shoot for, I could agree with that, but that doesn't mean it's particularly likely. Worse teams have ridden one star player that far or even further, but it's the exception rather than the rule. I agree with gumbo that UNC's pre-season spot should be 3rd or 4th in the ACC, 15th to 18th nationally.
I'm glad to see the board is in typical preseason form. I love how all of our returning players will be the greatest things since sliced bread, yet players from other teams will be lucky if they make any improvement at all during the off season.
Strickland's game was all about speed and I question if his knee will be 100% healthy. I also love that they used him as a SG even though he couldn't shoot. This season I can see him used in his natural PG position and while I did read that his shot had improved prior to the start of last season, I'm still not sold on him.
Now McDonald is another story. He's had a lot more time to get healthy from his surgery and he was supposed to play a much larger role for the heels last year prior to his injury. I wouldn't sleep on this kid, he'll be a glue guy for that team and a very solid contributor
Bullock is legit. Don't sell him short based on numbers coming off knee surgery and being stuck behind Brand X. He brings it on both ends of the floor and will have an outstanding season. If Barnes is a 1st rounder then so is this kid.
UNC's season will be determined by how quickly they settle on a new PG and if all the parts can gel into a cohesive unit.
Duke returns two All-ACC slections (both Curry and Mason were third team). In 2012 Duke returned zero All-ACCers but still ended up second in the regular season. In 2011 we returned two (Nolan and Kyle), and in 2009 Duke returned only one (Singler), although by New Year's Jon was being touted as player of the year. I expect Duke to be better in 2013 than this year, but there are a lot of questions to be answered.
With the NBA draft now mainly past us, and with the players coming to Duke for the summer session shortly, I got around to reviewing the team for the coming season. We have Cook, Thornton, Curry, Sulaimon, Murphy, Kelly, Plumlee (M&M), Jefferson and Zafirowski. Thats 11 total players with Dawkins confirmed as a red shirt.
We are solid at PG with Cook and Thornton and also good at SG with Curry and Sulaimon.
At SF it looks like Murphy is the sole entry at that position, with possibly Jefferson or Hairston filling in. Can't see Suliamon there since we will need him at SG.
At PF and C we have Kelly, Plumlee (M&M), Hairston and Jefferson. Zafirowski looks like a fill in player here if needed.
The roster looks a little short, especially if the injury bug strikes. Are there other possibilities, either transfers or walkons?
Our SF position will rely on an untested player where no real backup is obvious. I would mark this as a concern.
While we also have untested players at other positions, we also appear very solid at the PF and C positions.
Following the 2012/2013 season we will lose Curry, Kelly, Mason Plumlee and Zafirowski. That will leave the team with only 7 players coming back, although very good ones. To those we have Matt Jones and probably Andre Dawkins coming back for a total on 9.
Looking at the Scout.com list, it shows we have an interest in Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Anthony Barber, Semi Ojeleye, Ishmail Wainwright, Allerik Freeman, Austin Nichols and Robert Hubbs. Are All of these players still under consideration? Are there others being considered not on the Scout list?
We're potentially strong at PG with Cook, Thornton, and two capable ballhanlding SG in Curry and Sulaimon.
We're very strong at SG with Curry and Sulaimon.
We're completely unproven at SF with Murphy, Jefferson, and Sulaimon (in that order) likely to fill those minutes.
We're very set at PF with lots of versatility between Kelly, Jefferson, and Hairston.
We're very set at C with Mason, Marshall, and Kelly.
Will either Cook or Thornton step up and be a productive PG for us, or will we have to play Curry or Sulaimon out of position a lot?
[Conversely] Will Sulaimon push Cook/Thornton to the bench to start at PG alongside Curry?
Will Murphy and Jefferson be ready to hold down the SF spot? If they are able, I think we look very very good. But that's a big if.
Basically, PG and SF are the only question marks for this coming year. We have potential answers at both spots. It's just a matter of those guys stepping up. But with All-ACC talent at SG, PF, and C, it could be a VERY good season even if PG and SF are just solid.
As for 2013-2014, there's a lot of uncertainty. That's understandable, as we still have quite a bit of recruiting going on. Hopefully we land another big guy to rotate with Marshall, Jefferson, and Hairston.