In just 5 weeks College Basketball season will be underway and the long road to the Final Four will commence. In the historically powerful ACC, there are more than a few teams with ambitions of March glory. One of the most integral parts to any deep run, is having a shooting guard who can make a big bucket when needed. The Miami Hurricanes have a wealth of options at the 2 spot. Durand Scott can play both guard positions, and is at his best when he slashes to the hoop. Rion Brown is a knock down shooter, who last year was a revelation as a world class finisher at the rim. Trey McKinney Jones is a clutch performer, who gives the team a little bit of everything. And finally, redshirt freshman Bishop Daniels, is a tremendous athlete who is the wildcard of the group. But where do these 'Canes guards stack up against the rest of the league?? Let's take a look.
With out further delay here are my ACC team shooting guard rankings for 2012-13:
Like his father Del, and his brother Stephen, Seth Curry is a pure shooter. Last season, despite having to defer to Austin Rivers as the #1 option, Curry averaged 13.2 points per game and shot 38% from downtown. When Curry wasn't knocking down jumpers, Andre Dawkins (8.4 ppg & 39% on 3P%) was. Dawkins unfortunately will be redshirting this year for personal reasons. Still, do not feel sorry for Duke. Curry will still be joined by 6'3 freshman Rasheed Sulaimon (ranked as high as the #6 SG in the country coming out of high school). Sulaimon is not quite the pure shooter of Curry or Dawkins, but has a smooth handle and is exceptional pulling up on the break, and should team up nicely with Curry. If there's one weakness or question mark for this group, it is defensively. If Duke's shooting guards improve in that area, watch out!
#2 Florida State.
There may not be a better all-around SG in the nation than Michael Snaer. Snaer is not just a big-time scorer, he is also one of the best perimeter defenders in the country. Last season the 6'5 senior averaged 14 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and knocked down 40% of his trifectas. Snaer is the unquestioned leader of the Seminoles and a potential All-American. FSU is also excited about 6'5 freshman Aaron Thomas. Thomas is a slashing athletic type who could make an immediate impact for the Seminoles off the bench.
Durand Scott enters his senior season as the 'Canes leading returning scorer at 12.9 a clip, but Scott can also pass (3.1 assists per game) and rebound (5.4 rpg). With Shane Larkin expected to man the point, Scott will be afforded more opportunities off the ball. Scott's bread and butter is taking the ball strong to the hole. Miami is likely to employ a three guard rotation, and the third starter is a toss up between Rion Brown (39% 3P%) and Trey McKinney Jones (37% 3P%) Coach Jim Larranaga can't go wrong with either guy. Brown averaged 14.7 ppg over the last 4 games of the season, when things seemed to click for him. McKinney Jones, who is a versatile performer, will look to slash more this season. 2012-13 will also mark the debut of redshirt freshman Bishop Daniels. For a preview at what kind of a player Daniels is, see below:
#4 Wake Forest.
6'3 senior C.J. Harris is one of the better overall returning players in the ACC. Last season Harris averaged 16.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game, and shot 42% on 3P%. Harris was also typically the premier performer in Deamon Deacon victories (WF was 8-3 in games where Harris scored 20 or more). For Wake to make a run at the upper half of the ACC, Harris will need to continue his superb play. This season he could get some help at the 2 from 6'6 205 freshman Arnaud Adala Moto, who is a very physical player.
#5 NC State.
The graduation of CJ Williams would be seen as a big loss, had NC State not gone out a signed 6'4 freshman sensation Rodney Purvis. Purvis, who's style is reminiscent of a young Dwayne Wade, has a sick cross and already has NBA talent as a finisher. If Purvis acclimates to the college game quickly, the Wolfpack may easily have the best SG in the conference by season's end. Good thing for NC State the young man is special, as there are no veteran options behind him at SG. Here's a little taste of what he can do:
Joe Harris played nearly half the season with a broken left hand, and still averaged 11.3 ppg and shot 38 percent from downtown. The 6'6 junior should be healthy, and team up nicely with 6'5 sophomore Malcolm Brogdon (6.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists). With the graduation of Mike Scott, Harris and Brogdon will need to step up their scoring. Fortunately for the Hoos, both seem more than capable. Freshman Taylor Barnette could also get a look a SG.
#7 North Carolina.
It seems almost sacrilegious to rate the Tar Heels this low at any position. But with Leslie McDonald (missed all of 2011) and Dexter Strickland (7.5 ppg in 19 contests) coming off injuries, SG is a question mark by UNC standards. There is, however, depth. 6'7 Junior Reggie Bullock stepped into the void last season and averaged 8.8 points and shot 38% from deep. PJ Hairston is another big guard (6'6) who while not a great shooter or scorer, can provide quality minutes. With so much talent surrounding them, UNC SGs won't be asked to continue in the traditions of Michael Jordan and Jerry Stackhouse in 2012-13.
Nick Faust was a bit of an enigma for the Terps last season. The ultra talented sophomore averaged only 8.9 points a game in his freshman campaign. He also only managed to shoot 37% from the floor and 32% from downtown. He appeared to catch on late in the season, scoring in double figures in his last five games. Maryland will need more of that kind of production from Faust. The team caught a bad break when Sam Cassell Jr. was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. Two big question marks in freshman Seth Allen and transfer Logan Aronhalt (if healthy) will be counted on for depth.
#9 Georgia Tech.
Veteran Brandon Reed (7.5 ppg last season) returns, and should get the nod to start initially. But if 6'4 Kentucky transfer Stacy Poole Jr. provides the explosiveness the Yellow Jackets have been missing in recent years, he may end up being the guy. Poole Jr. plays with a high motor, and maybe a needed spark for GT, who come off an awful 2012. Freshmen Marcus Hunt and Chris Bolden (a one time UM commitment) could also contribute immediately.
#10 Boston College.
Both 6'3 Lonnie Jackson (8.3 ppg 39% 3P%) and 6'5 Patrick Heckmann (8.3 ppg 35% 3P%) showed the ability to score. Neither really stood out enough to climb higher on this list. BC does have some good, developing front court players, and perhaps Jackson or Heckmann will get enough open looks in 2012-13 to establish themselves. Incoming freshman Joe Rahon may get a chance to play both guard spots, and provides depth.
#11 Virginia Tech.
Erick Green is the kind of point guard, who almost makes having a big time shooting guard unnecessary. Nonetheless the Hokies hope that 6'5 Robert Brown (6.8 ppg last year) takes some of the pressure off Green. Green and Brown will have to carry the load, as depth is a serious concern for VT at the guard spots.
A huge improvement from 6'2 sophomore T.J. Sapp (3.6 ppg last season) would be monumental for the Tigers. Next in line would be another sophomore in Devin Coleman, who also had a very nondescript freshman season. It could be a long season in Death Valley.
Projected ALL ACC SGs:
1st Team: Michael Snaer, FSU.
2nd Team: C.J. Harris, Wake.
3rd Team: Durand Scott, Miami.
Best of the Rest:
Best Shooter: Seth Curry, Duke.
Best Pure Scorer: Rodney Purvis, NC State.
Best Freshman: Rodney Purvis, NC State.
Best Defender: Michael Snaer, FSU.
And with that, we conclude our look at the position of shooting guard in the ACC this season. Keep a look out for our next installment in the series, when we break down small forwards/wing players in the ACC in the upcoming days.