This past Thursday, June 27, 2013, the best young players in the world gathered in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Center with hopes of hearing their names called by NBA Commissioner, David Stern. The 2013 NBA Draft was one of the most intriguing drafts in a few years because there was no clear first overall pick, as players draft stocks rose or fell almost daily. The draft was also considered to be a role players’ draft, making it difficult to choose between players at the same position. The Cleveland Cavaliers eventually selected Anthony Bennett from UNLV with the first overall pick. There were also four ACC former standouts that were picked in the first round of the draft, tying them with the Big East and Big Ten. These four players have tremendous potential and will eventually play important roles on their respective teams.
The Phoenix Suns used their fifth overall pick on Alex Len, the Ukranian big man from the University of Maryland. Len is a solid big man with a nice touch and his upside combined with his height made this an easy pick for the Suns. Len is also a very deceptive rim protector, and his defensive awareness is at a very high level for a player that has not been playing basketball for a long time. Surprisingly Len was selected over Nerlens Noel, who was predicted to be the first overall pick in this draft at one point. Len will be joining three veteran big men in Phoenix, Luis Scola; Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O’Neal, who will provide him with positive advice and guidance on how to be a good big man in the NBA. Although he will be joining these seasoned veterans, Len will be asked to play from day one in Phoenix and he will be a solid addition to a young and upcoming roster in Phoenix.
The Dallas Mavericks made a great steal in the draft after they slid down the draft twice. They selected standout sophomore point guard, Shane Larkin, from the ACC Champion Miami Hurricanes. Larkin was one of the most explosive guards in the nation this year after a rather quiet freshman year. Any opportunity I was afforded to watch Miami play I was glued to the TV because watching Larkin play was actually fun. While Larkin is undersized at 5-11, he makes up for it with his basketball I.Q. and athleticism; Larkin is also very skilled, he uses his quickness to get in the paint, he puts pressure on the defense and he finishes well. When teams do not have guards as quick as him they will have to give him a little space and Larkin is a very good outside shooter as well as off the dribble shooter. Larkin could step into an important role as a back-up point guard for the Mavs this year, as Mavericks’ coach, Rick Carlisle, said; “He could compete for playing time right away.” The Mavs are currently pursuing Rajon Rondo, who would be the perfect mentor for Larkin, but if that deal is not done Larkin could see himself competing with Darren Collison, Mike James, and Rodrigue Beaubois for playing time and a potential starting spot.
The Brooklyn Nets with the 22nd overall pick selected Mason Plumlee, former Duke standout. While Plumlee slipped a little lower on the draft board than projected, he will be a perfect fit in Brooklyn as they have continued to prepare their roster for a championship run. Plumlee would back-up Brook Lopez, but he is a very different player from Lopez and he will be a great compliment for him coming off the bench. Plumlee’s length and athleticism is already on the NBA level and he will be a very valuable role player for the Nets as a result. The Nets just worked out a deal with the Boston Celtics to acquire three veteran players, Kevin Garnett; Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, who have all won NBA Championships and at one point in their careers were the best or one of the better players on their teams. The Garnett addition will make the job of preparing Plumlee easy for the Nets’ first year coach, Jason Kidd. Garnett and Plumlee have similar builds, and although Plumlee is nowhere near Garnett’s skill level, competing against him and Lopez everyday will prepare Plumlee to be on the floor immediately. Another thing Garnett will teach Plumlee is how to play power forward and center. Garnett has played both positions in the NBA and it is possible that Plumlee could also be asked to play both positions for the Nets.
The last player from the ACC that was selected in the first Round was Reggie Bullock, former UNC shooting guard. The Los Angeles Clippers selected him with the 25th overall pick. Bullock was never a star in college, but he can be a solid addition to a team as a prospect that will be ready to play in the NBA eventually. Bullock is a solid shooter and a decent defender, but he struggles to score off the dribble and that makes him very one-dimensional. He does not have much upside but if he continues to improve his jump shot he could find his niche in the NBA.
There were three other ACC players that were selected in the second round. ACC player of the year, Erick Green, was the first pick of the second round. Fellow ACC counterparts, Duke’s Ryan Kelly and NC State’s Lorenzo Brown, later followed him. Unfortunately Duke former standout Seth Curry, brother of NBA star, Stephen Curry, went undrafted and will have to take the undrafted free agent route. He as well as the other three players who were selected in the second round could all find niches in the NBA and contribute when needed.
Unfortunately, in the ACC’s last year as we have known it, there has been plenty of speculation about whether or not the ACC was having a down year. Selection Sunday may have put a close to this argument when only four of the twelve ACC teams received bids to this years’ NCAA tournament. This is extremely low compared to the number of teams the league usually sends to the big dance. To put it into perspective the MWC (Mountain West Conference), which is typically not one of the most esteemed conferences and does not usually have more teams in the tournament than the ACC, had five teams receive tournament bids. Of the remaining eight ACC teams, only three were invited to the NIT (National Invitational Tournament). These facts are not a surprise when 4 teams in the conference had records under .500. ACC fans have come to expect much more.
Taking all of these factors into consideration, one cannot help but raise the question: In the last year of the current ACC, did the conference end in a less than stellar fashion? The answer is a resounding yes!
Yes, the conference did have two teams, Duke and Miami, receive number two seeds. Miami had also built a strong case for a number one seed by winning the conference regular season and tournament championship, but unfortunately they became the first ACC team to not receive a one seed after accomplishing these feats. Miami’s success may be due to the longevity of their team, and not falling victim to the one-and-done phenomena; ten of Miami’s thirteen players are either juniors or seniors and along with a tremendous sophomore, Shane Larkin, one would expect them to be very successful.
Miami’s success, regardless of their longevity, came as a surprise; but one team that ACC fans know to expect a lot from in the postseason is Duke, led by their Hall of Fame Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Duke also had a case for a number one seed before a mid-season injury to senior Ryan Kelly. Duke was 18-1 with Kelly in the starting lineup, but a few bad losses, including a quarterfinal lost to unranked Maryland in the ACC tournament, was the reason they received a number two seed.
Miami and Duke both had great years and in all honesty carried the conference this year. While North Carolina and North Carolina State both received bids to the big dance, they also both received eight seeds and will be playing very tough opponents in the first round and will have to face one seeds, Kansas and Indiana respectively, if they advance to the round of 32.
The additions of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Louisville next year and Notre Dame in 2015, all of which are in this year’s tournament, the ACC will most definitely regain its position as the best conference, and most competitive in the country. However for this year, the ACC, without a one seed and only four teams in the tournament, has just been mediocre.
The phrase “Basketball is a game of runs,” is something that basketball players hear from the elementary level. From Boston College’s performance on Thursday against Georgia Tech, it is evident that they have been listening to their coaches when they told them that.
Georgia Tech and Boston College had their only regular season match-up on March 9th, which was the last game of the regular season for both teams. It was a fierce battle that ended in BC winning by two points after starting out slow. This first-round match-up of the ACC tournament started off parallel to their only regular season match-up, but would be nowhere near as close of a contest. Georgia Tech came out of the gates strong, starting the game on a 15-0 run and they looked as though they would run away with the game. Fortunately for Boston College, basketball is in fact a game of runs, and their performance after facing this deficit attest to this. Boston College’s coach, Steve Donahue, called a timeout to regroup his young team, who started the game differently than they had planned, this timeout would prove to be the difference in Boston College’s performance the rest of the day. Boston College answered this run with a run of their own and closed the half on a 38-18 run; their combo guard and ACC rookie of the year, Olivier Hanlan, who finished the first half with 21 points, did majority of the damage to close the half out.
Boston College went into the break up 38-33, and came out of the second half as if they had never gone in the locker room. BC picked right back up where they left off, pushing their lead to double figures early in the half. Hanlan also continued his hot, soon to be record breaking, performance. He was hitting on all cylinders, and his barrage of threes in the second half killed any thoughts of a Georgia Tech comeback. He helped push his team’s lead to 25 points at one point in the second half and along with leading his team to a statement victory, he broke 3 Freshman records for the ACC Tournament. He broke the record for the most Field Goals Made (14); most 3-point Field Goals Made (8); and he broke the old record for the most points by a freshman in a tournament game by scoring a spectacular 41 points, one point better than the previous record that was shared between two UNC standouts, Harrison Barnes and Tyler Hansbrough.
BC completely dominated the second half with little resistance from Georgia Tech. Boston College won the game 84-64, a 35-point turnaround from how they started the game. Boston College will play Miami, the top seeded team in the tournament, tomorrow at 12 pm.