Hear ye, hear ye! Court is back in session, and itâs getting near the time to say goodbye to the Class of 2006. How would I rank the various senior classes in the ACC? Iâm glad you asked. Iâm rating them based on who actually played this season. My information is based on a combination of sourcesâESPN.com, the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Forecast from 2002-03, and the ACC Basketball Handbook 2002-03. Translated, that means if there are any errors in my information, please blame them.
1-Duke (J. J. Redick, Shelden Williams, Sean Dockery, Lee Melchioni, Patrick Johnson, and Ross Perkins) Duh. I haenât scouted all the senior classes in the nation, but Iâm pretty sure there are no others with two All-Americans and two other fixtures in their teamsâ rotation. Redick is the best offensive player in the ACC since David Thompson (kids, ask your parents about him), Williams is one of the best low-post players in the nation on both ends of the court, Docker made what is so far the shot of the year, and Melchioni is pretty solid to be the fourth best player in a class. Shavlik Randolph (NBA) and Michael Thompson (Minnesota) were also in this group of recruits, but I guess Duke has managed okay without them, havenât they?
2-Wake Forest (Justin Gray, Eric Williams, Trent Strickland, Chris Ellis, John Buck) How can the Demon Deacons be so crappy with such a strong group of seniors? No, really, Iâm asking. Gray is one of he better shooting guards in the country, and Williams has matured into an effective low-post player since he learned to stay out of constant foul trouble. Strickland is one of the more athletic players in the ACC, and Ellis is a strong rebounder. Was Chris Paul THAT important? Itâs a shame that this train wreck of a season will tarnish what is otherwise a very positive legacy for this class.
3-North Carolina State (Cameron Bennerman, Ilian Evtimov, Tony Bethel, Bryan Nieman) This group is the heart and soul of the Wolfpackâs best post-Jim Valvano team. Bennerman is the only player who was actually a member of the 2002 recruiting class, however. Evtimov was a year ahead but missed a season with a knee injury. Bethel transferred from Georgetown and therefore also had to sit out a year. The other recruits were Dovonte Edwards, Justin Flatt, Dominick Mejia, and Adam Simons. That appears to be the last shaky recruiting class Coach Herb Sendek has signed.
4-Boston College (Craig Smith, Louis Hinnant, Ted Dunlap, Tyler Neville) Smith, a relatively unheralded high school player, has become one of the best big men in college basketball. His presence draws so much attention from opposing defenses that his teammates have more scoring opportunities. Hinnant is a solid point guard who makes good decisions. Other recruits that didnât finish the trip at Chestnut Hill are Johnnie Jackson, Adoyah Evans-Miller, and Tavio Hobson.
If Smith hadnât developed, this class would have been close to a washout.
5-Maryland (Nik Caner-Medley, Chris McCray, Travis Garrison, Sterling Ledbetter): A few words come to mind with this group, especially when you include would-be senior John Gilchrist; disappointing, enigmatic, underachieving. Not good words. Caner-Medley has stepped up his game in recent weeks and has nothing to be ashamed of in
his career. McCray was one of the best all-around players in the ACC, but not so good off the court. Garrison had his issues off the court and regressed on it. Ledbetter is a backup point guard being required to take on a role too large for his talent.
6-Miami (Robert Hite, Gary Hamilton, Eric Wilkins, Keaton Copeland, Lee Butler). Hite is one of the best guards in the nation. He has averaged at least 15 points per game each of the last three sesons. Hamilton is a good rebounder and defender. The other three have seen very limited minutes. Other recruits were Ismael NâDiaye, Armondo Surratt, and Rafael Berumen. With the exception of Hite, you can see why Perry Clark, the coach who recruited this class, is now working for Fox Sports Net.
7-Clemson (Shawan Robinson, Akin Akingbala, Steve Allen) Robinson is the Tigersâ leading scorer and has
averaged double-figures for three seasons. Akingbala is their leading rebounder and has had a couple of good years in the low post. Allen chips in a few minutes backing up the big men. Chris Hobbs, who was also part of this class, could have really helped Clemsonâs inside game if he were still around.
8-Florida State (Todd Galloway, Andrew Wilson, Diego Romero) Galloway has given Coach Leonard Hamilton good minutes at point guard over his career. Wilson has finally stayed healthy in his 6th year at Tallahassee to become a dangerous three-point shooter. Romero was projected to be a lot better than he is, with injuries playing a role. Benson Callier was also part of this recruiting class. This was the final group Steve Robinson signed at Florida State, a symptom of why he is not a head coach these days.
9-North Carolina (David Noel, Byron Sanders, Will Robinson, Thomas Wilkins) Noel has stepped up nicely this season to fill the gap caused by the exodous after the national championship last year. The other three are role playersâSanders has given them some good minutes as a big body banging around in the paint. This group would rank a LOT higher if Raymond Felton, Sean May, and Rashad McCants, not to mention Damion Grant. Any class that wins a national championship is truly special.
10-Georgia Tech (Theodis Tarver) Tarver has made occasional contributions off the bench, but his current averages of 3.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game are career highs. Of course, this ranking would be quite a bit higher if Jarrett Jack or Chris Bosh had stayed around instead of earning a paycheck in the NBA. Anthony McHenry and Jim Nystrom were also part of this group.
11-Virginia Tech (Shawn Harris, Bob Ritchie, Allen Calloway) Not much of a year for seniors in the state of Virginia this year, is it? Others in this recruiting class were Markus Sailes, Harding Nana, Fabian Davis, and Phillip McCandies.
12-Virginia (Billy Campbell) Thatâs the first and probably the last time Iâll be mentioning this young manâs name in my column. He has scored a total of 54 points in his career. Derrick Byars was the other member of this class.
Isnât the amount of attrition here striking? Wow!
The CourtMasterâs Briefs
Well, that NCAA bubble became a lot lighter this week. Virginia had a strange week, whipping up on Boston College, then getting whipped at Clemson. With a record of 14-11, the Cavaliers can start making their plans for the NIT along with Miami and Clemson.
Any talking head who mentions Maryland in discussions of teams on the bubble should have their microphone taken away from them. Right now, the Terps are in freefall. It was obvious early in the second half of their losses to Florida State and North Carolina that Maryland was not going to even make a run to get close, much less actually win.
Have all of the minutes he has played this season caught up with J. J. Redick or is he just in a slump? The answer to that question will determine whether Duke can win the national championship or get knocked out of the NCAA tournament early again this year. Perhaps an early exit from the ACC tournament would be a blessing in disguise and give the Devils a chance for some rest.
Speaking of rest, it looked like both Boston College and NC State had very little left in the tank toward the end of the Eaglesâ double-overtime win at
Raleigh on Saturday. Both teams have a short bench, especially the Wolfpack. They will need to get their legs back under them if theyâre going to get very far in the postseason.
After Stateâs loss, Wolfpack big man Andrew Brackman travelled to Greenville, South Carolina to pitch Sunday for Stateâs baseball team vs. UNC Wilmington. Brackman lasted 2 1/3 innings and left with the score 3-3. The Wolfpack won the game 9-8. So you think YOU were busy this weekend.
Thatâs what I think. Let me know what you think by e-mail at email@example.com. Donât forget to check out my blog at www.thecourtmaster.net. Next week, Iâll preview the ACC tournament.
Until then, court is adjourned!