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The Young And The Restless: Great Freshmen Passers In The ACC

Enjoy them while you can because when they arrive, they won't be here for long.

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After one spectacular year at Duke, Tyus Jones is now with his hometown Minnesota Timberwolves.
After one spectacular year at Duke, Tyus Jones is now with his hometown Minnesota Timberwolves.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

It happens every year. An ACC season promising months of drama and enjoyment winds down before we’re ready for it to end. The ACC, NCAA and NIT tournaments are held. Teams fall by the wayside, winking out like stars at sunrise.

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Finally the games are done. At Duke three college careers ended prematurely in 2014-15, although at least by choice rather than by happenstance or injury.

Once Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow helped Duke capture a national championship and removed their Blue Devil jerseys for the last time, all talk turned to whether they would enter the NBA draft. Then the discussion moved to how high in the draft they would be selected, and perhaps where they might land.

Meanwhile, little time was spent putting their single seasons into historical perspective, unfortunate short-sightedness. Here, for instance, is how Jones compared to other sterling playmakers in ACC history, measured by his average assists per game.

Only five first-year players who led ACC squads in assists were ever more prolific in supporting teammates than Jones. That covers 43 seasons in which freshmen were eligible for varsity competition.

The Minnesota product was among four Blue Devils who posted a double-figure scoring average in ’15, his 11.8 points per game third-best among the ACC’s most accomplished freshman team assist leaders.

Last year Jones trailed only Notre Dame senior Jerian Grant in assists per game among ACC players.

Freshmen Who Led ACC Teams In Assists
APG Player, School Year PPG
8.1 Kenny Anderson, GT 1990 20.6
7.6 Bobby Hurley, D 1990 8.8
6.9 Ed Cota, NC 1997 8.0
6.2 Kendall Marshall, NC 2011 6.2
6.0 Ishmael Smith, WF 2007 8.7
5.6 Tyus Jones, D 2015 11.8
5.5 Tyler Ennis, SU 2014 12.9
5.2 Greg Paulus, D 2006 6.7
4.9 Jeff Jones, V 1979 5.4