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RJ Barrett On Pace To Be ACC’s Leading Scorer

Duke’s freshman forward is having a sensational idea

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NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Duke
Jan 19, 2019; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward R.J. Barrett (5) shoots a free throw during the second half against the Virginia Cavaliers at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 72-70.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC has rarely been noted for standout scorers. Only two league players ever led major colleges in points per game -- Grady Wallace of South Carolina in 1957, with 31.2 before there was an official Division I, and Virginia Tech’s Erick Green, with a 25.0 average in 2013.

Having ACC players finish in the national top 10 is more common. Duke freshman R.J. Barrett is threatening to become the fifth league scorer, and the first freshman, to finish at that elite level over the past 10 years.

Through 17 games Barrett, topped by his 30-point performance against Virginia’s vaunted defense, was averaging 23.8. That was good for 11th in Division I; the leader, Campbell’s Chris Clemons, pours in 29.2 per game.

Barrett’s average, if maintained, would break the ACC mark by a freshman. That record was set long ago – by Duke’s Marvin Bagley III in 2018. (Oddly, although Bagley contributed 21.0 points per outing, the ACC lists Georgia Tech’s Kenny Anderson as the freshman leader with 20.6 in 1990.)

Bagley’s average last season was good for 28th among Division I teams. Fair to say, few were paying attention; the stat just doesn’t seem to be a big deal in ACC reckoning. Of course when conference teams are regularly fighting for championships such individual achievements pale in importance. Yet it’s still noteworthy how little we seem to care.

By the way, seven of the last 10 ACC scoring leaders came under three different coaches, two no longer in the league.

Mark Gottfried facilitated scoring by Anthony Warren Junior and Anthony Barber at Raleigh. Seth Greenberg was a similar enabler at Virginia Tech with Green and Malcolm Delaney.

Should Barrett finish atop the ACC heap this season he’d be the third Blue Devil to lead in the last decade under Mike Krzyzewski’s tutelage, after Nolan Smith in 2011 and Bagley in ’18.

And one more thing: Bagley was among just two ACC scoring leaders since 2010 to make at least half his shots. His .614 acuity on field goal tries (270-440) paced the league in accuracy too. Warren, another forward, converted at a .525 clip (342-652).

Warren took the most shots to get his points; the Hokies’ Delaney, a guard, was least accurate from the floor at .387 on 483 attempts.

Single-Season ACC Per-Game Scoring Leaders, With National Rank Since 2010
Year Player, School Avg. Rank DI Leader, School Avg
2019 R.J. Barrett, D 23.8 11 Chris Clemons, Campbell 29.2
2018 Marvin Bagley III, D 21.0 28 Trae Young, Okla 27.4
2017 Michael Young, UP 19.6 43 Marcus Keene, Cent. Mich 30.0
2016 Cat Barber, NCS 23.5 6 James Daniel III, Howard 27.1
2015 Olivier Hanlon, BC 19.5 21 Tyler Harvey, E. Wash 23.1
2014 T.J. Warren, NCS 24.9 2 Doug McDermott, Creighton 26.7
2013 Erick Green, VT 25.0 1 NA
2012 Terrell Stoglin, M 21.6 6 Reggie Hamilton, Oakland 26.2
2011 Nolan Smith, D 20.6 16 Jimmer Fredette, BYU 28.9
2010 Malcolm Delaney, VT 20.2 26 Aubrey Coleman, Houston 25.6

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