Finishing #12 in the ACC isn’t normally a big deal but for Boston College, last season was really pretty cool.
First, the Eagles beat Duke when the Blue Devils were #1 then went on to finish 19-16 after a cup of coffee in the NIT.
For teams like Duke and UNC that would be a nightmare season. But when you have years that your last win is in December or early January, 19-16 and post-season play is cause for celebration.
And the backcourt of Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson was insanely fun to watch and gave the team an exciting and fun face.
Despite the optimism though, BC is not yet out of the woods.
The Eagles lost Robinson, a junior, who went to the LA Clippers at #13 and Deontae Hawkins, who decided to play in Europe rather than return to BC after missing most of last season with an injury. He could have been a factor but he played so little that replacing him won’t be a big deal.
The backcourt is still in pretty good shape though. Bowman returns, and he’s been brilliant for BC.
Like Robinson, he was vastly underrated as a recruit and turned into a beast for the Eagles. Watching that guy run the break is one of the great pleasures of ACC basketball.
Christian will probably pair Bowman with Jordan Chatman. Chatman, who finished his undergrad work at BYU in two seasons, is a really good shooter. He won’t make up for Robinson completely but that’s still a very good backcourt.
Big men Nik Popovic (6-11) and Johncarlos Reyes (6-10) haven’t set the ACC on fire but both have shown flashes and particularly Popovic. He averaged 9.9 ppg and 6.6 rpg. We don't expect him to double those numbers but 50% higher? That’s possible.
Reyes has become a decent if not great backup.
Sophomore forward Steffon Mitchell was forced into action when Hawkins went down and proved to be a rugged rebounder and reasonable defender. We’re sure he’s worked on his game and fitness over the summer and could be a revelation. He’s already going to get minutes as a rebounder and is likely to start again.
Vin Baker Jr. and Avery Wilson are guys who could step up as well. Neither played a lot as a freshman but this seems like a good time to point out that Christian has shown a real knack for finding underrated recruits and, just as importantly, helping them to become great players. Let’s see what he can do with these two.
That goes for Luka Kralevjic too. A 6-10 forward out of Slovenia, he got almost 10 mpg last season without making a huge statistical impact. If he’s a normal European player he’s solid all around. Again, let’s see what Christian can do with him. If he’s at least a reasonable backup that’s great news for BC.
BC brings in a very impressive freshman in Jarius Hamilton, a 6-8 kid out of Concord N.C.’s Cannon School. He wasn’t too far out of the top 50. He’ll be a big help and is a likely starter. His brother, Jared, transferred from Georgia Southern and will be eligible in January. He’s a 6-4 guard.
The Eagles also bring in 6-2 freshman Winston Tabbs and 6-3 Chris Herren Jr.
As we’ve noted, Christian has a good eye for underappreciated talent so Tabbs might be okay or better than that even.
Herrens is a legacy who might show some skills of his own.
His father, Chris Sr., was one of BC’s best talents ever but his life got seriously derailed by addiction which destroyed his NBA career. Basketball was the only part of his life that worked well and the drugs undercut that. He left Boston College having barely played and transferred to Fresno State. Drug problems popped up there too but he was good enough for the NBA to maintain interest and he played briefly for Rick Pitino when he was coaching the Celtics.
He did finally overcome his demons but his basketball career never really happened. His son is not as highly regarded but maybe he inherited his family’s athletic brilliance (his dad was just one of several family members to excel at basketball).
The question for BC, it seems to us, is simple: is there enough talent for the program to at least maintain the level it reached last season?
We think so. Bowman is legit and Chatman should shine. Popovic is steadily improving and Mitchell has a nice mean streak and freshman Hamilton should help everyone by relieving defensive pressure.
That leaves the supporting cast as the last concern. If a few of those guys can exceed expectations then so can the Eagles.
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