By: David Kay
You want to know about the up-coming college basketball season? You’ve come to the right place. Our fourth series of conference previews continues with the ACC this week. We have tackled the bottom six teams in the league, now our focus shifts to teams four-six.
All of these teams will make the NCAA Tournament. But if they find some bumps in the road during ACC play, a few teams very close in talent could easily leapfrog them and steal their spot in the Big Dance.
Clemson loses a few key players from a year ago, but welcomes in one of the best recruiting classes in the conference. Florida State figures to be very competitive once again while Georgia Tech should be greatly improved coming off a last place finish in the conference a year ago.
4. Clemson (5th, 9-7, 23-9, NCAA First Round)
The Tigers were an early season surprised last season when they won their first sixteen games. They quickly fell back to reality posting a five-hundred record the remainder of the regular season. Trevor Booker is one of the more physical players in the conference and will be joined by his younger brother Devin. If fellow freshmen Milton Jennings and USC-defectee Noel Johnson can make immediate impacts, Clemson could be very dangerous.
Projected Depth Chart
C: Jerai Grant (Jr)/ Karolis Petrukonis (Sr)/Catalin Baciu (So)
PF: Trevor Booker (Sr)/Devin Booker (Fr)
F: Milton Jennings (Fr)/David Potter (Sr)/Bryan Narcisse (So)
SG: Noel Johnson (Fr)/Tanner Smith (So)
PG: Demontez Stitt (Jr)/Andre Young (So)/Donte Hill (Fr)
Gone: G/F- K.C. Rivers, G-Terrence Oglesby (pro-Europe), C-Raymond Sykes
Player to Watch: Stitt- Clemson suffered an unexpected loss when Terrence Oglesby decided to leave school and sign a pro contract overseas. That leaves a void in the backcourt that Stitt will have to pick up. He’s been a steady force for the Tigers in his first two years, but will need to elevate his productivity.
5. Florida State (4th, 10-6, 25-10, NCAA First Round)
The loss of All-ACC Defensive and First team selection Toney Douglas will be a major obstacle for the Seminoles to overcome. Derwin Kitchen will likely assume the point guard responsibilities while freshman phenom Michael Snaer will take over at the two. If Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton make the expected strides, FSU should once again be a tough team to beat.
Projected Depth Chart
C: Solomon Alabi (So)/Xavier Gibson (So)
PF: Ryan Reid (Sr)/Terrence Shannon (Fr)
SF: Chris Singleton (So)/Jordan DeMercy (Jr)
SG: Michael Snaer (Fr)/Luke Loucks (So)/Deivadis Dulkys (So)
PG: Derwin Kitchen (Jr)/Pierre Jordan (So)
Gone: PG-Toney Douglas, PF-Uche Echefu
Player to Watch: Alabi- The 7-1 product is still a work in progress on the offensive end, but should be a shot blocking force in the paint. If his development continues at a steady pace, he will be a difference maker, potentially in the Hasheem Thabeet mold; something that most teams at the college level are lacking.
6. Georgia Tech (12th, 2-14, 12-19)
The Yellow Jackets suffered some major growing pains last season, but received great news when Gani Lawal decided to come back for his junior season. Add in one of the top recruits in the nation in Derrick Favors and multi-talented combo guard in Iman Schumpert, and G-Tech could be one of the sleepers in the conference, if not the country.
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Gani Lawal (Jr)/Brad Sheehan (Jr)/Daniel Miller (Fr)
F-Zachery Peacock (Sr)/Kammeron Holsey (Fr-out for season torn ACL)
F: Derrick Favors (Fr)/Brian Oliver (Fr)
G: D’Andre Bell (Sr)/Nick Foreman (So)/Lance Storrs (Jr)/Glen Rice (Fr)
PG: Iman Schumpert (So)/Maurice Miller (Jr)/Mfon Udofia (Fr)
Gone: F/C-Alade Aminu, G-Lewis Clinch
Player to Watch: Bell- Spinal surgery forced Bell to miss all of last season, but he has been given the okay to return to the court this fall. He should provide a veteran presence to a relatively young Yellow Jacket team and help replace the loss of leading scorer Lewis Clinch.
The Sports Bank ACC Preview Conitnues:
Monday: Teams 10-12 (Virginia Tech, Virginia, N.C. State)
Tuesday: Teams 7-9 (Wake Forest, Miami FL, Boston College)
Thursday: Teams 1-3
Friday: ACC Post-season Awards
Thesportsbank.net SEC Previews/Power Rankings:
SEC East Teams 4-6 (Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia)
SEC East Teams 1-3 (Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida)
SEC West Teams 4-6 (Arkansas, Auburn, LSU)
SEC West Teams 1-3 (Mississippi State, Mississippi, Alabama)
Thesportsbank.net Pac-10 Preview/Power Rankings:
Teams 8-10 (Washingon State, Arizona State, Stanford)
Teams 5-7 (Arizona, USC, Oregon)
Teams 1-4 (Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, Cal)
Thesportsbank.net Big East Previews/Power Rankings
Teams 13-16 (Rutgers, South Florida, Providence, DePaul)
Teams 9-12 (Notre Dame, Pitt, Marquette, St. John’s)
Teams 5-8 (Syracuse, Louisville, Cincinnati, Seton Hall)
Teams 1-4 (Villanova, West Virginia, UConn, Georgetown)
Post-Season Award Predictions
For all the latest college basketball info, you can follow David Kay on Twitter at DavidKay_TSBFollow paulmbanks