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Hotshot ACC Freshmen Scorers

Most productive scorers since freshman eligibility started in 1975

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan on a long jumper when he played for Dean Smith and UNC.

Jon Meterparel and Malcolm Huckaby, both based in the Boston area, had the play-by-play and color commentary, respectively, for an ACC Network telecast of North Carolina’s visit to face BC at Conte Forum on New Year’s Day.

Meterparel, whose early radio career took him through Charlotte, NC, is the well-established play-by-play man for BC football. Huckaby, even though you’ve likely not heard of him, was named a 2015 ACC Basketball Legend. He was a star in baseball and basketball and finished at BC in 1994, a dozen years before the Eagles alighted in the ACC.

Neither announcer had reached high school when Michael Jordan played for the Tar Heels from the 1982-84 seasons.

Now nearing 50, apparently Huckaby and Meterparel didn’t brush up on the details of Jordan’s UNC career before going on at length about the unfortunate fact the wing guard never got a chance to employ a collegiate 3-point shot introduced later in the decade.

Unfortunately their ruminations missed a key detail – the ACC had an experimental 3-pointer in 1982-83 when Jordan was a sophomore. Shots made from an arc measuring 17’9” from the rim counted toward players’ and teams’ scoring totals.

The arc officially adopted in 1986-87 in NCAA men’s play was 19’9”. Today it’s 22’1 ¾”.

The transitory, shorter bombing range allowed several lasting offensive marks to be made in the ACC, one by Jordan (amazingly 60 years old in 2023) and another by Georgia Tech’s Mark Price.

Price became the first freshman to pace the ACC in scoring at 20.3 points per game in ’83, fueled by 73 bonusphere baskets on 166 attempts. Jordan finished second in the conference with a 20.0-point average.

(This season’s leading freshman scorer through 14 games was Duke’s Paolo Banchero with a 17.3-point average, sixth in the ACC.)

The colorful and ever-opinionated Marty Blake, the NBA’s long-time Director of Scouting, now deceased, once groused that Carolina coach Dean Smith was the only person who could hold Jordan below 20 points per game in college.

This became minor – and erroneous – gospel. Jordan’s 34 threes actually spelled the difference between a 19.1-point and a 20.0-point average across a 36-game season in 1983.

That opportunity was the missing bit of intelligence in the Meterparel-Huckaby badinage to start the 2022 calendar year.

Highest ACC Freshman Scoring Averages
(Freshmen Became Eligible For Varsity Play In 1973)
Player School Season Avg. 3FGM-A 3FG%
RJ Barrett* Duke 2019 22.63 73-237 .308
Zion Williamson* Duke 2019 22.61 10-27 .370
Marvin Bagley III* Duke 2018 21.0 23 -58 .397
Mark Price* Ga Tech 1983 20.3 73-201 .440
Kenny Anderson* Ga Tech 1990 20.6 44-117 .410
Michael Jordan UNC 1983 20.0 34-76 .447
*led league
NOTE: ACC lists Barrett and Williamson as top freshman scorers in 2019.