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Chip Bremer - ACC Frosh Too Good to Stay for Long

Off the Dribble by Chip Bremer

ACC Frosh Too Good to Stay for Long

After just a few weeks of competition, it has become clear that the ACC’s freshman class of 2002-03 could be one of the best in a long time. Analysts even took note of how these youngsters are transforming the conference from one of the country’s youngest and most inexperienced to one of the more competitive in the nation. But with instant stardom and the lure of NBA dollars, these freshmen may not be around for much longer. Here are some projections on how these freshmen will pan out over the next few years:

Raymond Felton, PG, UNC
Possibly the league’s purest point guard, Felton has made no bones about going straight to the NBA if he’s a lottery pick. He’s got the skills, but chances are his turnovers will keep him grounded for at least two years. After that, Matt Doherty better have a replacement ready.

Sean May, PF/C, UNC
NBA scouts love his game, and his bloodline doesn’t hurt either, but he will need to drop some of that baby fat if he wants to go high in the draft. He’s a better shooter than other low-post notables, like Elton Brand and Zach Randolph. Nevertheless, I would only expect to get two solid years before he hits the road.

Rashad McCants, WG, UNC
Like his other teammates, McCants has all the skills to warrant serious attention. His only flaw in the eyes of NBA scouts is that he is only 6-3 and does not yet possess the pure shooting touch NBA teams want in a guard. Nevertheless, his relentless style of play and pure athletic ability will make him the most impressive Tar Heel since Jerry Stackhouse, and likely the third member of Carolina’s freshman class to turn pro after his sophomore season.

J.J. Redick, WG, Duke
Four years ago, Mike Krzyzewski had to make a choice between offering a scholarship to Mike Dunleavy and offering one to Casey Jacobsen. Coach K obviously preferred Dunleavy’s all-around game to Jacobsen’s aggressiveness and deadeye shooting. Now he has the best of both worlds in Redick. Not only does this kid possess one of the most accurate jumpshots ever seen, but he also has an amazing amount of confidence and poise. Scouts love how fast he is adjusting to the college game, but like Dunleavy and Jacobsen, he probably won’t leave until after his junior year.

Shavlik Randolph, PF, Duke
Another superior prospect with good bloodlines and an eye on the draft lottery, Shav is another Dirk Nowitzki in waiting. The problem is that his post game is too far ahead of his weight and his perimeter game to warrant him getting much time on the wing in K’s system. Because of this, his development will be slow, but should find an exit after his junior year.

Shelden Williams, PF, Duke
Williams is a prototypical NBA power forward who many compare to former Kentucky star Antoine Walker. Unfortunately for him, there is too much depth on Duke’s bench for him to garner enough playing time to get the notice of the scouts right away. Like Randolph, Williams probably won’t get a chance to explode until his junior year. And you won’t see him in Duke blue for his senior year.

Chris Bosh, PF/C, Georgia Tech
If any ACC freshman were a clear candidate to leave after this season, it would be Bosh. This kid is long and lean, but he has the Kevin Garnett-type game that scouts love in young prospects. He’s going to set the ACC freshman record for double-doubles in a season and has the potential to win conference MVP. Paul Hewitt will have a difficult time convincing Bosh to stay for his sophomore year.

Eric Williams, C, Wake Forest
This 6-9 280-pound behemoth could break all of Tim Duncan’s school records if he sticks around long enough, but chances are he won’t. The outlook on Williams is strictly dependent on his weight, however. If Skip Prosser can get him under 270, he’s a lottery pick after his sophomore season. If not, he’ll still get a lot of looks between 280-300 to nudge him out after his junior season.

John Gilchrist, PG, Maryland
True, Gilchrist doesn’t have the hype carried by those mentioned above, and his freshman year stats won’t show anything significant. But he has the swagger of a future NBA point guard and once Steve Blake leaves after this season, he will have every opportunity to show how well he can run the team. He’s not lottery material, but he’ll be a first rounder after his junior season.

As for the rest of the ACC’s freshman class, no one really stands out as a can’t-miss prospect. Duke’s Sean Dockery, Georgia Tech’s Jarrett Jack, Wake Forest’s Justin Gray, Maryland’s Travis Garrison and Nick Caner-Medley, and Virginia’s Derrick Byars all have potential to get there, but they’ll probably enjoy full four-year careers at their respective schools. Nevertheless, this will be an outstanding year for ACC basketball, and it’s all because of the impact of this freshman class.

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NC State fans looking for projections on their team’s current freshmen can’t get too excited just yet. Combo guard Dominick Mejia will need to adjust to playing point for Herb Sendek for the next several years and forward Cameron Bennerman will need to develop a more consistent shot to guarantee him major minutes down the road. Redshirt center Adam Simons will stay around awhile since he wouldn’t get to play against high Division I competition anywhere else. Redshirt guard Justin Flatt is a phenomenal shooter, but his being recruited over for Turkish guard Engin Atsur makes him a candidate to keep the string of transfers under Sendek very much alive.

* * *
ACC official Larry Rose once again proved to a national audience that he is indeed a buffoon. Near the end of the Ohio State/Duke game earlier this month, the Devils were up by 10 with under two minutes to go and no time outs left. When Duke’s Chris Duhon got trapped in a double team and looked frantically to get rid of the ball, Rose anticipated Duhon calling a timeout his team didn’t have and in turn called an immediate technical on Duke. The only problem was, neither Duhon, nor Coach K, nor anyone else affiliated with the Blue Devils actually called a timeout.

The call didn’t really hurt Duke since they won 91-76, but it just proves that Rose, like so many of the other old-school ACC referees, anticipates fouls or violations too often before they actually happen and such behavior will (hopefully) get him in trouble with the ACC office someday. As I’ve said before: the officials need to call the game, not what they anticipate. Otherwise, we’ll get stuck watching morons like Rose having a negative impact on the games they call.

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What’s the deal with the Harlem Globetrotters playing college teams in preseason competition …and losing? Since they began competing against colleges and universities in 1999, the Globetrotters compiled a 15-3 record against collegiate competition up to this season. On their 17-day college tour of 2002, the ‘Trotters went 3-6 and took losses to teams like Vanderbilt and Central Connecticut State. Obviously, these aren’t your father’s Harlem Globetrotters.

Apparently, the team now has a roster of 30 players that is often split between the show games you might have seen as a kid and regular competition (vs. colleges, etc.). The show team still has it’s share of trick-shot artists and comedic entertainers, but the team for regular competition has a mixture of former NBA players and former college stars who couldn’t find a home at the next level.

Old pros like Cedric Ceballos and Olden “Old Man” Polynice (Virginia ’86) play on both squads, but the reason for the competition team’s sub-par record against colleges is the number of young players on the roster who couldn’t land a job in the NBA. Tony Akins (Georgia Tech ’02), the only other ACC player on the roster besides Polynice, is considered one of the squad’s best performers. I know, it’s sad. This is the most successful franchise in basketball history, right? Maybe these guys should renew their contract with the Washington Generals and save themselves some dignity.