ACC Recruiting Breakdown
Surprise, surprise, it’s North Carolina on top again.
It’s another year and the ACC has broken the bank yet again with the latest crop of incoming freshman to the country’s most historic basketball conference. Almost one-third of the top 50 players in the class of 2009 will be spending time on ACC campuses this fall and expect more than a few of them to have major impacts right away. North Carolina hands down has the top recruiting class in the conference again, but Georgia Tech, Duke, Clemson and North Carolina State aren’t all that far behind. Take in this group and enjoy them while you can, because it is a safe bet that several of the individuals listed below will not be sticking around for more than a year of higher learning before they make the jump for big bucks in the League.
Boston College Eagles
Al Skinner and Co. return 10 players from a 22-12 team, the lone loss of course is All-ACC guard Tyrese Rice. With so much back for the Eagles next season, BC didn’t sign anyone for the 2009 class. Still, with a slew of quality players returning, including Joe Trapani, Rakim Sanders and Corey Raji, Boston College will have the weapons to finish in the middle of the ACC pack once again.
In the last week Clemson went from having a very strong recruiting class to having a flat out great class with the recent signing of former USC recruit Noel Johnson. The Georgia native has one of the sweetest strokes you will find in the high school game today, having range well beyond the arc. He is equally adept at knocking down spot up jumpers as he is pulling up off the dribble and burying shots over defenders. At 6-6, Johnson is going to be a tough guy to contest when he looks to square up and fire and will help soften the loss of gunner Terrence Oglesby who departed school early to play overseas. The gem of this class though is McDonald’s All-American Milton Jennings who joins the program from Pinewood Prep in South Carolina. People are calling the 6-9 power forward the biggest recruit Clemson has signed in the last decade plus and he certainly has the upside to warrant such high praise. Jennings is a face-up four with an excellent perimeter jump shot; he is going to create plenty of matchup problems. Making him even scarier for opposing defenses is his quickness and ability to take slower big men to the basket on a regular basis. Don’t expect him to be a low post force though, Jennings is definitely more of a three trapped in a fours body at this point. Head Coach Oliver Purnell locked up a letter of intent from Devin Booker, the younger brother of current Clemson big man Trevor Booker. Like Trevor, Devin in an undersized but burly power forward, packing 215 pounds onto a 6-7 frame. His game is built around strength and hustle on the block inside, and with the ability to finish from both sides of the rim, he should be a guy who can step in and contribute right away. Lastly there is shooting guard Donte Hill, who in addition to Clemson, received interest from Marquette, George Mason and VCU. Hill is very much a guy who prefers to attack the basket off the dribble than to spot up and shoot from the perimeter. His athleticism will help him on the defensive end of the floor.
Duke Blue Devils
The Blue Devils bring in a fantastic two-man recruiting class that addresses their biggest need; frontcourt production. Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee, a pair of North Carolina based All-Americans, will be immediate impact players in the ACC come November. For both of these players, versatility at the power forward spot is the name of the game in their scouting reports. Kelly is a face up player with excellent range, able to knock down shots from beyond the arc. Coach K will likely have a field day using the Raleigh, NC native as a pick and pop weapon on the offensive end. The major knock on Kelly right now is his lack of bulk and strength as he stretches 205 pounds over a nearly 6-11 frame. The newcomer will absolutely have to hit the weights hard in order to provide help on the glass in what will be a physical ACC. Plumlee, like Kelly is a rail thin at 6-11 210 pounds, but is a better athlete. While his range isn’t as good as Kelly’s – though he can hit the 17-footer regularly – Plumlee is going to be able to take defenders off the dribble with his quickness and get to the rack. Once in the lain, the Christ School graduate has shown to have more than enough ability to finish in spectacular fashion around the rim. With his shooting ability, athleticism and ability to operate well on the wing, Plumlee is very similar to future teammate Kyle Singler, just a bit taller. When the Blue Devils opt to go big this season, they can potentially trot out three forwards all 6-9 or taller who can handle the ball and shoot from the outside.
Florida State Seminoles
Like so many of their conference foes, the Seminoles went out and signed themselves an All-American for their 2009 class. Rancho Verde High School’s Michael Snaer is the type of impact player who will immediately be able to put up scoring numbers at the college level. The 6-4 shooting guard is super explosive and has good handles which will allow him to get the basket and finish amongst the trees on a regular basis. What makes him such a tough matchup is the range Snaer has on his jumper which extends beyond the three-point line. This is a kid who one way or another will be able to put the ball in the basket thanks to his skill set and physical ability. His stellar athleticism has the potential to make him a special defensive player in the ACC as well if he continues to work hard. The only other member of the FSU class of ’09 is Georgia big man Terrence Shannon. The 6-7 power forward is another superb athlete who will be able to provide valuable minutes from the get-go. Shannon lacks a lot of offensive polish in his game right now, but compensates for it with a tremendous amount of hustle and effort at both ends of the floor.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Paul Hewitt went out and signed himself a fantastic recruiting class consisting of six players, four of whom land in the ESPNU top 100. The crown jewel of this class is local product Derrick Favors, MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game and arguably the top incoming freshman in the country. The phrases that have been thrown around a lot with Favors is “franchise player” or “program changer”, and why not? This Atlanta center is the type of player who will be a man amongst boys from the first time he plays in a college game. Few players at the college level have his type of strength and athleticism in the same package. Favors is a monster defender, challenging and altering almost every shot that comes within his immediate area. Offensively he is still developing his game, but will be able to overpower most defenders for the time being. Expect his name to show up on All-ACC ballots at the end of the season. Power forward Kammeon Holsey is another local recruit who will able to have an impact in the frontcourt immediately. The 6-8 graduate of Hancock Central HS is a super athletic face-up four with the quickness and handles to take defenders off the dribble, while providing a solid rebounder at the other end of the floor. Point guard Mfon Udofia was a great pick up for the Yellow Jackets as he ranks as one of the top floor generals in this class. Another player from the Peach State (noticing the homegrown trend here), the 6-1 Udofia is an offensive weapon thanks to his outstanding speed and quickness. He likes to attack the rim and is very dangerous when he gets out into the open floor with the basketball in his hands. At this point he is still very much a shoot first, pass second point guard, but with time he should develop into a real playmaker for his teammates. Daniel Miller, a top-100 big man out of (guess where?) Georgia, was an All-State selection and has a nicely developing offensive skill set. The 6-10 center has a soft touch with either hand around the rim and has the ability to known down the elbow jumper when he steps away from the paint. Rounding out the Georgia Tech class this season are Brian Oliver, an energetic small forward from Delaware and Glen Rice Jr., son of former NBA All-Star Glen Rice.
The Terps addressed their ailing frontcourt by signing a pair of bigs in their 2009 recruiting haul. Center Jordan Williams out of Torrington HS in Connecticut brings a big frame to the frontcourt, something that Gary Williams and Co. lacked last season. At 6-10 245 pounds, Williams will take up plenty of space in the paint and should be able to establish position fairly well from the early part of the season. He has a fairly polished post game, has a soft touch and rebounds the ball effectively. There is lots of potential for Williams to be a quality player in the ACC, but there have been a few question marks surrounding his conditioning. The other addition to the Terrapins roster next season will be New York product James Padgett. A graduate of Lincoln HS (of Lance Stephenson fame), Padgett is a bruising 6-8 245-pound power forward who will take care of the dirty work inside. Nothing about his game is pretty, but he is a rebounding force and does a good job of powering through defenders on offensive put backs. This is the type of hardnosed player that college teams need in order to be successful.
The ‘Canes welcome in four new players to the program this fall, highlighted by the arrival of New York shooting guard Durand Scott. The 6-4 product of famed Rice HS is an ultra competitive player with a nose for the basket. Scott has good quickness, solid handles and a knack for stepping up in big games. He isn’t the type of player to back down from a challenge ever, though his perimeter game still needs a good amount of work. Michigan power forward Donnavan Kirk is a very raw but super athletic player with a good amount of upside should he develop. The 6-8 forward will be an immediate impact on defense with his rebounding and shot blocking ability; offensively he will be limited early on to touches immediately surround the basket as his game isn’t well developed yet. Garrius Adams is a pure spot up perimeter shooter at this point in his career. The 6-5 shooting guard has the size to elevate over defenders on the wing and the range to connect from deep; just don’t expect him to start taking opponents to the basket as his handles are still developing. The fourth and final member of head coach Frank Haith’s group is Mississippi combo-guard Antoine Allen. At 6-2, Allen has decent size to be a floor general in the ACC and he certainly has the quickness and handles to get into the lane and create when he so chooses.
North Carolina Tar Heels
One would think that after winning a second national championship in five years, Roy Williams might relent ever so slightly and enjoy a vacation, but no. Once again, UNC will welcome in the top recruiting class in the ACC with all five of their commits ranking in the top 40 on the ESPNU 100. It’s hard to really know where to begin with this group, but power forward John Henson seems like a good spot. The 6-10 native of Tampa, FL is as intriguing of a player as you will find in the 2009 class, possessing the ability to face up and attack the basket with his immensely long frame. Henson can shoot from the mid-range, handle the ball, run the floor, block shots on defense and he still hasn’t come close to growing into his body. The thought of him and Ed Davis patrolling the lane for Carolina next season is enough to make penetrating guards like Greivis Vasquez turn the ball over in their sleep. New Jersey guard Dexter Strickland is a super smooth scorer at the two spot who shows the potential to play some time at point as well. The 6-3 graduate of Garden State power St. Patrick’s is a fantastic athlete who will be a major weapon in UNC’s up-tempo offense as he is a great open floor finisher. Fellow shooting guard Leslie McDonald isn’t going to blow anyone away with his ability, but is a very smart player who always seems to make the right decision. With teammates like Strickland getting into the lane, McDonald will be able to spot up on the wing for open looks or read the defense for backdoor cuts around the hoop. Then there are the Wear twins, Travis and David out of national power Mater Dei in California. Both brothers stand approximately 6-10 with the ability to be inside/outside threats. Their post games are very refined already and they have the range to do damage from beyond the arc if left open by the defense. These are two very intelligent players for their current stage in development; will be great additions to the Tar Heel system.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
NC State head coach Sidney Lowe locked up a very talented recruiting class consisting of four frontcourt additions and a pair that will fit right in with the backcourt. Lorenzo Brown is a very talented shooting guard out of Roswell, GA who brings instant explosiveness and scoring ability to the floor. The 6-4 dynamo has a consistent jumper, gets into the lane at will at the high school level and has the type of court vision that leads one to believe he could spend some time running the point as he develops. Power forward Richard Howell is a versatile player who will created some matchup problems at 6-7 thanks to his ability to operate away from the block. Howell can knock down the mid-range jump shot if left uncontested and he has the quickness to take slower defenders off the dribble from the high post. Hargrave Military Academy’s DeShawn Painter was the other big signing at power forward. A top-100 recruit like Brown and Howell, Painter is a super long and athletic 6-9 presence. His offensive game lacks polish at this point, though he shows signs of developing a jumper. At this point Painter is going to do his damage on the offensive glass and by outrunning defenders down the floor with his good open court speed. Indiana product Scott Wood is a 6-5 shooting guard with a classic spot up game built around his deadly range. Expect the Marion HS graduate to benefit from players like Lorenzo Brown driving and kicking as he camps out on the wing. The ‘Pack also got commitments from Australian 7-footer Jordan Vandenberg and 6-6 small forward Josh Davis out of Raleigh.
UVA welcomes in a pair of freshman to next seasons squad in Tristan Spurlock and Jontel Evans. Spurlock, a top-100 small forward, is going to create all kinds of matchup problems given his 6-8 frame that packs 215 pounds. The Springfield, VA native is a great athlete with a smooth jumper which he can hit from fairly deep on the floor. Spurlock has a real nose for the basket and gives exceptional effort at both ends of the floor; he could become a special defender given his frame and athleticism. Evans will likely see minutes right away at the point guard spot given that the Cavaliers have been lacking at that position. The 5-11 Hampton product is very quick and explosive, but also has great strength which will allow him to handle contact in the lane. His perimeter shot is still developing at this point but he makes up for it with his excellent playmaking ability in the open floor, something that returners like Sylvan Landesberg will feed off of.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Head coach Seth Greenberg signed a solid but not stellar four-man class for the upcoming season. Center Cadarian Raines looks to have the most potential given his athletic 6-9 frame that has seemingly been wired to be a defensive force. He will be a rebounding and shot blocking presence from day one and though his offensive game consists of trying to bull through defenders right now, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future for this raw big man. Erik Green out of Millbrook HS will be a nice addition to the backcourt for the Hokies. At 6-3 he has pretty good size for the point guard position and has a consistently improving jump shot that he can drop from beyond the three-point line. Green could be given the reigns to the offense very early on in his career. Joining Green will be shooting guard Ben Boggs who looks like he will be a gunner at the college level. Boggs has excellent range on his perimeter shot but also has the ability to pull up and shoot off the dribble from almost anywhere on the floor. He will be an excellent third scoring option type of player during his career in Blacksburg. Lastly there is small forward Manny Atkins who earned All-State recognition during his time at Tucker HS in Georgia. Atkins stands at a solid 6-5 200 pounds and is a good athlete with a nice looking jumper. He will step out and hit the three when defenders get lazy, but he looks to be a guy who will do the bulk of his damage attacking the rim as his handles continue to improve.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
A year ago Wake welcomed in one of the top classes in the country, and though this group isn’t on par with the ’08 class, there is another solid group arriving in Winston Salem this fall. Super talented small forward Ari Stewart had offers on the table from Connecticut, Michigan State, Xavier, Texas and Clemson before choosing the black and gold for his college career. Stewart can hurt a team from anywhere on the floor; his perimeter shot has improved drastically in the last year or so and he is a handful to cover when he decides to put the ball on the floor. He has the toughness to bang inside when he has to and has the potential to be an All-ACC performer before his career is up. Guard C.J. Harris played his high school ball just down the road at Mount Tabor HS and will be a nice addition to the backcourt for the Demon Deacons. Currently Harris is listed as a shooting guard and he certainly has the ability to connect from beyond the arc, but his handles and court vision give the impression that it won’t be long before he makes the switch over to the point. His high basketball IQ will make him a solid floor general in the ACC. Lastly; Wake will welcome JuCo transfer Konner Tucker from Lon Morris CC. The 6-2 point guard is a steady ball handler with a good mid-range game.