- Brett Siegel’s 2018-19 Preseason ACC Rankings
The 2018-19 College Basketball Season is a few months away, so it is time to get familiar with some of the major conferences and what they will look like this season! There is no better way to start the preseason than with some Top 25 Rankings, so if you missed out on my preseason rankings article, click here now! For now, let’s take a look at how I rank the ACC for the 2018-19 college basketball season!
All Recruiting Rankings provided by 247 Sports Recruiting.
#1 DUKE BLUE DEVILS
2017-18 Record: 29-8
NCAA Tournament result: Elite 8 (Lost to Kansas)
Who is Gone: Marvin Bagley III (21.0 PPG), Grayson Allen (15.5 PPG), Gary Trent Jr. (14.5 PPG), Wendell Carter Jr. (13.5 PPG), Trevon Duval (10.3 PPG)
Who is Back: Marques Bolden (3.9 PPG), Javin DeLaurier (3.4 PPG), Alex O’Connell (3.3 PPG), Justin Robinson (1.4 PPG), Antonio Vrankovic (1.0 PPG), Jordan Goldwire (1.0 PPG), Jack White (0.8 PPG)
Who Did They Add: R.J. Barrett (#1 SG), Cameron Reddish (#1 SF), Zion Williamson (#1 PF), Tre Jones (#1 PG), Joey Baker (#7 SF)
Projected Starting Lineup: G Tre Jones, G R.J. Barrett, F Cameron Reddish, F Zion Williamson, C Marques Bolden
Duke is going to be a very talented and fun team to watch in the ACC this season, but they are extremely young. In the past, Duke has always had a veteran guard to lead them (Quinn Cook, Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen), but this season, juniors Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier will provide that veteran leadership from the “big men” positions. Sophomore guard Alex O’Connell, who I believe will be a tremendous sixth man for Duke this season, should also provide some veteran experience after seeing around 10 minutes per game in his freshman season last year. Duke is losing its entire starting lineup from last season’s Elite 8 team, but adds the top PG, SG, SF, and PF in the 2018 Recruiting Class to replace last year’s stellar freshman group. The question that remains for Coach K and his youthful Blue Devils squad this season is if Tre Jones, R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish, and Zion Williamson can all handle the pressure of not only being freshman in a fierce ACC environment, but all playing 30+ minutes per game. It will be interesting to see how this year’s Duke team molds together, but nonetheless, they enter as the team to beat once again in the ACC. As always, Durham is all in on their basketball team this year and it is either “title or bust” once again.
#2 VIRGINIA CAVALIERS
2017-18 Record: 31-3
NCAA Tournament result: Round of 64 (Lost to UMBC)
Who is Gone: Devon Hall (11.7 PPG), Isaiah Wilkens (6.0 PPG), Nigel Johnson (4.9 PPG)
Who is Back: Kyle Guy (14.1 PPG), Ty Jerome (10.6 PPG), De’Andre Hunter (9.2 PPG), Mamadi Diakite (5.4 PPG), Jack Salt (3.4 PPG), Jay Huff (3.4 PPG), Marco Anthony (2.0 PPG)
Who Did They Add: Francisco Caffaro (#19 C), Kody Stattmann (#73 SF), Kihei Clark (#59 PG)
Projected Starting Lineup: G Kyle Guy, G Ty Jerome, F De’Andre Hunter, F Mamadi Diakite, C Jack Salt
For the sake of Virginia and focusing on this upcoming season, I am not going to mention what happened to them in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. But, can you believe that #16 UMBC actually beat Tony Bennett’s 31-2 #1 seeded… oh… sorry, I got a little carried away there. Anyways, after a season that ended in sheer heartbreaking fashion for the Cavaliers, Tony Bennett and Virginia went right to work for the 2018-19 season, starting with the return of their starting backcourt in Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome. They will also get De’Andre Hunter back from his hand injury that kept him out in the NCAA Tournament game. If there is one thing I have learned over my years of covering college basketball, it is to NEVER count Tony Bennett out! Over the course of the past 5 seasons, Virginia has claimed three ACC regular season titles, two ACC Tournament Titles, three #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, they have tallied three 30-win seasons, and have a combined record of 143-33 (.813). Tony Bennett is one of the best coaches in the country and regardless of what his team looks like, year-in and year-out, Virginia is one of the top teams in the ACC. I would not expect things to change this year and if history tells us anything, it is that Virginia will finish a-top the ACC once again!
#3 NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS
2017-18 Record: 26-11
NCAA Tournament result: Round of 32 (Lost to Texas A&M)
Who is Gone: Joel Berry II (17.1 PPG), Theo Pinson (10.3 PPG), Jalek Felton (2.9 PPG) – Transferring
Who is Back: Luke Maye (16.9 PPG), Cameron Johnson (12.4 PPG), Kenny Williams (11.4 PPG), Sterling Manley (5.4 PPG), Garrison Brooks (4.5 PPG), Andrew Platek (2.0 PPG), Brandon Robinson (1.7 PPG), Brandon Huffman (1.6 PPG), Seventh Woods (1.1 PPG), Shea Rush (0.4 PPG)
Who Did They Add: Nassir Little (#2 SF), Coby White (#3 SG), Rechon Black (#17 SF)
Projected Starting Lineup: G Coby White, G Kenny White, G Cameron Johnson, F Nassir Little, F Luke Maye
After a regular season that saw UNC get upset six total times, the Tar Heels, led by senior Joel Berry II, still dominated in the ACC and went to the Conference Tournament Title Game where they eventually lost to Virginia, landing them a #2-seed in the NCAA Tournament. They were one of the top choices by many to make it out of the West Region to the Final Four once again and possibly have a rematch with the Villanova Wildcats, but they ran into a hot Texas A&M team in the second round, leading to their seventh upset of the season. Unfortunately for Tar Heels fans, they had to say their final goodbyes to Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson. But, they did receive some good news as forward Luke Maye withdrew from the NBA Draft to head back to Chapel Hill for his senior season. This year, UNC will be led by Maye, as well as wings Kenny Williams and Cameron Johnson. Roy Williams also went out on the recruiting trail, bringing in the nation’s #2 SF and #3 SG, Nassir Little and Coby White respectively. The Tar Heels will not a be a very deep team this season, meaning Sterling Manley and Garrison Brooks will have to play huge roles coming off the bench if North Carolina wants a shot at winning the ACC. Veterans have always carried Roy Williams to Final Fours and titles, could Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson, and Kenny Williams do the same?
#4 VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES
2017-18 Record: 21-12
NCAA Tournament result: Round of 64 (Lost to Alabama)
Who is Gone: Justin Bibbs (13.3 PPG), Devin Wilson (2.8 PPG)
Who is Back: Ty Outlaw (Injured Knee) Justin Robinson (14.0 PPG), Kerry Blackshear Jr. (12.5 PPG), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (10.7 PPG), Ahmed Hill (10.6 PPG), Chris Clarke (8.2 PPG), P.J. Horne (4.6 PPG), Tyrie Jackson (3.0 PPG), Wabissa Bede (2.5 PPG)
Who Did They Add: Landers Nolley (#15 SF), Jon Kabonga (#38 PG), Jarren McAllister (#58 SG, Khadim Sy (JUCO)
Projected Starting Lineup: G Justin Robinson, G Ahmed Hill, G Nickeil Alexander-Walker, F Ty Outlaw, F Kerry Blackshear Jr.
After finishing 7th in the ACC this past season and earning a #8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Coach Buzz Williams returns 4 of his top 5 scorers from the previous season, and adds Ty Outlaw who sat out all of last season with an injury. With a veteran group returning this season and after a successful few years, the Hokies are ready to take the next step and solidify themselves as one of the top teams in the ACC. Seniors Justin Robinson and Ahmed Hill, along with sophomore guard, Nickeil Alexander-Walker should round out one of the strongest backcourts in the conference and will be the main scorers for this year’s Hokie squad. As a team last season, Virginia Tech shot about 39% from 3-pt range and were one of the best offensive teams in the country, ranking 46th in the country in points per game. Virginia Tech’s success this season will be based on if their offensive success from last year carries over to this season. There will not be many teams in the ACC that have size over Virginia Tech this season, which should be favorable for the Hokies offense if it is the same. Depth and fatigue decides games late in March, setting up the pieces nicely for a successful season for Buzz Williams and Hokie nation.
Coach Leonard Hamilton will enter his 17th season as the head coach of the Florida State Seminoles, looking for his fourth consecutive 20-win season.
#5 FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
2017-18 Record: 23-12
NCAA Tournament result: Elite 8 (Lost to Michigan)
Who is Gone: Braian Angola (12.5 PPG), C.J. Walker (8.0 PPG) – Transferred to Ohio State, Ike Obiagu (2.3 PPG), Brandon Allen (1.0 PPG)
Who is Back: Phil Cofer (12.8 PPG), Terance Mann (12.6 PPG), Trent Forrest (7.9 PPG), Mfiondu Kabengele (7.2 PPG), M.J. Walker (7.0 PPG), P.J. Savoy (6.7 PPG), Christ Koumadje (6.5 PPG), Wyatt Wilkes (0.7 PPG), Anthony Polite (0.0 PPG)
Who Did They Add: Devin Vassell (#45 SG), RaiQuan Gray (#41 PF in 2017 Class)
Projected Starting Lineup: G Trent Forrest, G M.J. Walker, F Terance Mann, F Phil Cofer, F Mfiondu Kabengele
I know I have mentioned it before, but c’mon! Leonard Hamilton looks just like an evil villain in a comic book and I LOVE IT! The Seminoles surprised everyone last season as they went 9-9 in the ACC, picking up wins over ranked UNC and Clemson. Not to mention, Florida State was a couple baskets away from the Final Four! This year, Coach Hamilton returns 3 of their starting 5 from last season and does not have a great recruiting class coming in like in past years. They also lost C.J. Walker, a main facilitator in their backcourt who decided to transfer to Ohio State. The Seminoles success this season will depend heavily on how Trent Forrest and Mfiondu Kabengele transition into their new roles, potentially in the starting lineup. If these two mesh well with Phil Cofer and Terence Mann in the starting lineup, the Seminoles should have no problem finishing in the top 5 of the ACC.
#6 SYRACUSE ORANGE
2017-18 Record: 23-14
NCAA Tournament result: Sweet 16 (Lost to Duke)
Who is Gone: Matthew Moyer (3.2 PPG)
Who is Back: Tyus Battle (19.2 PPG), Oshae Brissett (14.9 PPG), Frank Howard (14.4 PPG), Geno Thorpe (6.0 PPG), Marek Dolezaj (5.8 PPG), Paschal Chukwu (5.4 PPG), Bourama Sidibe (2.7 PPG), Howard Washington (1.1 PPG)
Who Did They Add: Jalen Carey (#7 CG), Robert Braswell (#25 PF), Buddy Boeheim (#64 SG)
Projected Starting Lineup: G Frank Howard, G Tyus Battle, F Oshae Brissett, F Marek Dolezaj, C Paschal Chukwu
Syracuse has had 10-wins in the ACC in only 1 of the past 4 seasons. This year, I definitely expect Syracuse to win at least 10 games in conference play, solely because of their star player, Tyus Battle. Not only did he average 39 minutes per game last season, but Battle was one of the ACC’s best scorers, averaging 19.2 PPG. With the return of Tyus Battle and others, Syracuse returns 94% of their offensive production from last year. Coach Jim Boeheim will have one of the best teams he has had over the past few years, and Syracuse should be a force in the ACC all season long.
#7 CLEMSON TIGERS
2017-18 Record: 25-10
NCAA Tournament result: Sweet 16 (Lost to Kansas)
Who is Gone: Gabe DeVoe (14.2 PPG), Donte Grantham (14.2 PPG), Mark Donnal (3.7 PPG)
Who is Back: Marcquise Reed (15.8 PPG), Shelton Mitchell (12.2 PPG), Elijah Thomas (10.7 PPG), Aamir Simms (4.0 PPG), David Skara (3.3 PPG), Anthony Oliver II (2.1 PPG), Clyde Trapp (1.8 PPG), Malik William (1.5 PPG), Scott Spencer (1.3 PPG)
Who Did They Add: John Newman (#34 SG), Trey Jemison (#27 C), Hunter Tyson (#54 SF)
Projected Starting Lineup: G Shelton Mitchell, G Marcquise Reed, G Anthony Oliver II, F Aamir Simms, F Elijah Thomas
Clemson is now known for more than football after the season they had last season! After a 25-win season and a trip to the Sweet 16, Clemson returns what will likely be one of the best backcourts in the ACC with Marcquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell. Coach Brad Brownell deserves a lot of credit for the job he has done at Clemson over the years, but will be faced with a challenge this year after losing two of his top three scorers from last year in Gabe DeVoe and Donte Grantham. If Clemson is to repeat the successful ACC season they had last season and finish in the top 3 again, they will have to get production from the frontcourt. The Tigers only have three scorers who averaged over 10+ points last season, so they will have to find production from others if they are to be successful once again.
Coach Chris Mack being introduced as the third full-time head coach in the past 47 years for Louisville.
#8 LOUISVILLE CARDINALS
2017-18 Record: 22-14
NCAA Tournament result: Missed NCAA Tournament
Who is Gone: Deng Adel (15.0 PPG), Ray Spalding (12.3 PPG), Quentin Snider (11.8 PPG), Anas Mahmoud (6.8 PPG), Lance Thomas (2.2 PPG) – Transferred to Memphis
Who is Back: V.J. King (8.6 PPG), Ryan McMahon (6.1 PPG), Jordan Nwora (5.7 PPG), Dwayne Sutton (4.3 PPG), Darius Perry (3.9 PPG), Malik Williams (3.8 PPG), Jacob Redding (2.2 PPG), Jo Griffin (0.0 PPG)
Who Did They Add: Christen Cunningham (Transfer – Samford), Khwan Fore (Transfer – Richmond)
Projected Starting Lineup: G Darius Perry, G Ryan McMahon, F V.J. King, F Dwayne Sutton, F Malik Williams
After a crazy roller coaster ride last season with the FBI investigations, the firing of Coach Rick Pitino, and the aftermath of the escort scandal, Louisville can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, starting with the fantastic hiring of Coach Chris Mack. Although Louisville has no recruits coming in for the 2018-19 season yet, Coach Mack has already changed the atmosphere in Louisville and has fans ready for the start of the season! As a Louisville fan myself, I am extremely excited to have a coach of Coach Mack’s caliber lead this program into the future. Louisville will definitely be in a rebuilding phase after losing four of their starting five and 4 of their top 5 scorers, but still have some nice pieces on the team. Junior forward V.J. King will undoubtedly be the leader of this year’s Louisville team and should have the breakout year all Cards fans thought he would have last season. Not only will this year’s Louisville squad be well coached, but they will also has a decent amount of experience. Everyone on the squad, besides the grad-transfers, have been through the worst a program could ever go through and will have something to prove this season. There is new hope in the fan base, a new coach, and most importantly, a new fire in the hearts of all of these players. I truly expect a greater season than a lot of people expect out of Louisville and expect Coach Mack to lead Louisville to the NCAA Tournament in his first season in the 502!
#9 MIAMI HURRICANES
2017-18 Record: 22-10
NCAA Tournament result: Round of 64 (Lost to Loyola-Chicago)
Who is Gone: Lonnie Walker IV (11.5 PPG), Bruce Brown Jr. (11.4 PPG), Ja’Quan Newton (8.8 PPG), Chris Stowell (0.1 PPG)
Who is Back: Dewan Huell (11.4 PPG), Chris Lykes (9.6 PPG), Dejan Vasiljevic (9.0 PPG), Anthony Lawrence II (8.8 PPG), Ebuka Izundu (5.0 PPG), Sam Waardenburg (3.3 PPG), Rodney Miller Jr. (1.2 PPG), Mike Robinson (0.4 PPG)
Who Did They Add: Anthony Mack (Transfer – Wyoming), Kameron McGusty (Transfer – Oklahoma)
Projected Starting Lineup: G Chris Lykes, G Dejan Vasiljevic, G Anthony Lawrence II, F Dewan Huell, C Ebuka Izundu
Coach Jim Larranaga and the Hurricanes streak of four straight seasons with 10+ conference wins may be in jeopardy this season. Over the past few seasons, Miami has been able to recruit very well, bringing in top talent to compete against the ACC’s best. This year, amidst the FBI investigation, Miami has no recruits coming in, and will rely on their bench players from last year, as well as two transfers to pick-up the slack. Miami will lose two of their top three scorers from a year ago and will have the challenge of integrating new players into the rotations. Two of these new faces to the program are transfers Anthony Mack from Wyoming and Kameron McGusty from Oklahoma. Mack sat out last season with a concussion suffered during high school football and will have four years of eligibility for Miami, something that could be very resourceful for Miami in the future and Kameron McGusty did not live up to expectations at Oklahoma. McGusty was the #6 SG in the country in the 2016 Recruiting Class and averaged just under 10 PPG in his two seasons at Oklahoma. Both players, along with guard Chris Lykes and potential breakout wing, Anthony Lawrence II will look to continue Miami’s reign of success in the ACC, but as it stands right now, they have a lot of work to do and a lot of ground to make-up to be a force this season.
#10 NC STATE WOLFPACK
2017-18 Record: 22-14
NCAA Tournament result: Round of 64 (Lost to Seton Hall)
Who is Gone: Allerik Freeman (16.1 PPG), Omer Yurtseven (13.5 PPG) – Transferring to Georgetown, Lennard Freeman (7.9 PPG), Sam Hunt (5.5 PPG), Abdul Malik-Abu (5.2 PPG), Darius Hicks (4.3 PPG) – Transferring, Lavar Batts Jr. (3.7 PPG) – Transferring, Shaun Kirk (2.2 PPG) – Transferring to UNC-Pembroke, Spencer Newman (0.0 PPG) – Transferring
Who is Back: Torin Dorn (13.9 PPG), Braxton Beverly (9.5 PPG), Markell Johnson (8.9 PPG)
Who Did They Add: Sacha Killeya-Jones (Transfer – Kentucky)*, C.J. Bryce (Transfer – UNC-Wilmington), Devon Daniels (Transfer – Utah), Blake Harris (Transfer – Missouri), Eric Lockett (Transfer – FIU), Derek Funderburk (Transfer – Ohio State), Immanuel Bates (#11 C), Ian Steere (#15 C), Jericole Hellems (#36 SF)
Projected Starting Lineup: G Markell Johnson, G Torin Dorn, G C.J. Bryce, G Eric Lockett, C Immanuel Bates
*Sacha Killeya-Jones will sit out the 2018-19 season and be granted 2 years of eligibility.
Wow… it is almost like Coach Kenny Keats has his the reset button for NC State. Only 3 players from last year’s Wolfpack squad are returning for the 2018-19 season. 5 players are transferring out, and 6 will be transferring in. The only notable player transfering is Omer Yurtseven who will be transferring to Georgetown to learn from one of the game’s best centers, Patrick Ewing. Kenny Keats though, brings in a load of transfer talent, highlighted by former Kentucky forward, Sacha Killeya-Jones who will sit out the 2018-19 season and be granted 2 years of eligibility. I really do not know what to think of this year’s Wolfpack team because Coach Keatts has brought a bunch of individual standouts together to assemble this year’s squad. Who knows if this will work or not. Also, NC State has an abundance of guards this year and will be a smaller team than usual, which could give them trouble against teams with forward and center depth. If there is one thing I can say about this year’s Wolfpack team, it is that they will be extremely fast and definitely be a defensive minded team, always pushing the ball in transition.
Ky Bowman will return to Chestnut Hill as one of the ACC’s top scorers from a year ago.
#11 BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES
2017-18 Record: 19-16
NCAA Tournament result: Missed NCAA Tournament
Who is Gone: Jerome Robinson (20.7 PPG), Deontae Hawkins (12.4 PPG)
Who is Back: Ky Bowman (17.6 PPG), Jordan Chatman (12.9 PPG), Nik Popovic (9.9 PPG), Steffon Mitchell (6.4 PPG), Johncarlos Reyes (2.8 PPG), Vin Baker Jr. (1.9 PPG), Avery Wilson (1.5 PPG), Luka Kraljevic (1.5 PPG), Ervins Meznieks (1.1 PPG), Gordon Gehan (1.0 PPG)
Who Did They Add: Jarius Hamilton (#18 SF), Wynston Tabbs (#24 CG)
Projected Starting Lineup: G Ky Bowman, G Jordan Chatman, F Steffon Mitchell, F Johncarlos Reyes, C Nik Popovic
If Jerome Robinson had decided to withdraw his name from the 2018 NBA Draft and return to Chestnut Hill, Boston College had a shot to be a legit Top 25 program entering the 2018-19 collegiate basketball season. Last season, Boston College had one of the most explosive backcourts in the country with Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman. The “two-headed monster” of a backcourt contributed to just over 50% of the team’s total average of scoring. This season, Ky Bowman will have to look to build on Boston College’s success without his partner in crime. He will have Jordan Chatman back for his senior season though after averaging 12.9 PPG and shooting just under 40% from 3-point range last season. Chatman should see increased minutes this year and be a solid scoring option next to Bowman in the backcourt. Nik Popovic also returns for Boston College as he also looks to build off of a decent showing last year. Boston College enters my ACC preseason rankings no more than the “team that could’ve been,” and will have to look to their bench for scoring options to remain relevant in the ACC.
#12 NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
2017-18 Record: 21-15
NCAA Tournament result: Missed NCAA Tournament
Who is Gone: Bonzie Colson (19.7 PPG), Matt Farrell (16.3 PPG), Martinas Geben (11.1 PPG), Austin Torres (2.4 PPG), Matt Gregory (0.4 PPG), Liam Nelligan (0.3 PPG)
Who is Back: T.J. Gibbs Jr. (15.3 PPG), Rex Pflueger (8.0 PPG), D.J. Harvey (5.8 PPG), John Mooney (5.6 PPG), Nikola Djogo (2.6 PPG), Elijah Burns (2.3 PPG)
Who Did They Add: Nate Laszewski (#14 PF), Robby Carmody (#17 SG), Prentiss Hubb (#18 SG), Dane Goodwin (#19 SG), Chris Doherty (#53 PF)
Projected Starting Lineup: G T.J. Gibbs, G Rex Pflueger, G D.J. Harvey, F John Mooney, F Nate Laszewski
After being considered a Preseason Top 10 team by many last season, Notre Dame finished with one of the most disappointing seasons we have seen over the past few years, failing to make the NCAA Tournament. Bonzie Colson missed almost 70% of Notre Dame’s season last year, and Matt Farrell also suffered through an ankle injury all year. If these two had been healthy all year long for Coach Mike Brey and Notre Dame, they could’ve easily made a run in the NCAA Tournament, but we will never know. Now, with three of their top 4 scorers from last year gone, Mike Brey will have to do some serious reconstruction to remain a force in the ACC. He has set the foundation for doing this by bringing in the Nation’s #14 overall recruiting class and the 3rd best class in the ACC. Soon to be freshmen Nate Laszewski and Robby Carmody should have an immediate impact in wake of Notre Dame losing 6 guys from last year’s roster. Mike Brey will be building for the future this year, likely meaning they will take a step back in the ACC and sink to the bottom for now.
#13 PITTSBURGH PANTHERS
2017-18 Record: 8-24
NCAA Tournament result: Missed NCAA Tournament
Who is Gone: Ryan Luther (12.7 PPG) – Transferring to Arizona, Marcus Carr (10.0 PPG) – Transferring to Minnesota, Parker Stewart (9.1 PPG) – Transferring to UT-Martin, Jonathan Milligan (5.0 PPG), Monty Boykins (1.4 PPG)
Who is Back: Jared Wilson-Frame (13.0 PPG), Shamiel Stevenson (8.5 PPG), Terrell Brown (4.4 PPG), Khameron Davis (4.0 PPG), Kene Chukwuka (2.5 PPG), Samson George (0.8 PPG), Anthony Starzynski (0.8 PPG), Peace Ilegomah (0.7 PPG)
Who Did They Add: Sidy N’Dir (Transfer – New Mexico State), Malik Ellison (Transfer – St. John’s), Trey McGowens (#10 CG), Au’Diese Toney (#27 SF), Xavier Johnson (#21 CG)
Projected Starting Lineup: G Sidy N’Dir, G Jared Wilson-Frame, G Shamiel Stevenson, F Kene Chukwuka, F Terrell Brown
After not winning a single game in the ACC last season under Kevin Stallings, Pittsburgh made the decision to move on from Coach Stallings and hire Duke assistant, Jeff Capel. Coach Capel comes into a program that has already hit rock bottom and will look to make an impact immediately. Not only is Capel a fantastic recruiter, getting players such as Jabari Parker, Justice Winslow, Trevon Duval, and Marvin Bagley III over the years, but has had experience as an interim head coach when Coach K was out following surgery. Pitt also does not have a terrible roster for him to come in and play around with. Their top scorer from a year ago, Jared Wilson-Frame is returning, giving Coach Capel and early option to lean on and build around, but he also picked up a big name transfer in Sidy N’Dir from New Mexico State, who averaged 7.8 PPG last season. Overall, this Pittsburgh team should win a few games this season in the ACC and take a step in the right direction in Coach Capel’s first year. Think about it… they cannot get worse!
#14 GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS
2017-18 Record: 13-19
NCAA Tournament result: Missed NCAA Tournament
Who is Gone: Josh Okogie (18.2 PPG), Tadric Jackson (12.7 PPG), Ben Lammers (11.7 PPG)
Who is Back: Jose Alvarado (12.1 PPG), Abdoulaye Gueye (5.9 PPG), Brandon Alston (5.4 PPG), Curtis Haywood II (5.3 PPG), Moses Wright (3.6 PPG), Evan Cole (3.2 PPG), Justin Moore (0.9 PPG), Sylvester Ogbonda (0.8 PPG), Evan Jester (0.3 PPG)
Who Did They Add: Michael Devoe (#9 PG), Kristian Sjolund (#46 SF), Khalid Moore (#48 SF), James Banks III (Transfer – Texas)
Projected Starting Lineup: G Michael Devoe, G Jose Alvarado, G Brandon Alston, F Moses Wright, F Abdoulaye Gueye
After the departure of Josh Okogie, all hopes of success for the Yellow Jackets this season went flying out the window. Coach Josh Pastner has a lot of work cut out for him to get Georgia Tech back to “noticeable” in the ACC. After a solid first season for Pastner back in the 2016-17 season, the Yellow Jackets struggled once again last year, finishing the season 13-19. With Okogie, Tadric Johnson and Ben Lammers all gone, there is not much for Coach Pastner to work with this season. He has some solid young pieces in the backcourt, but the frontcourt is still a mess for the Yellow Jackets and he has not had a lot of success on the recruiting trail. It will take time for Georgia Tech to build a basketball team that can compete in the ACC, but for now, expect them to finish close to dead-last in the standings.
#15 WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS
2017-18 Record: 11-20
NCAA Tournament result: Missed NCAA Tournament
Who is Gone: Bryant Crawford (16.9 PPG), Keyshawn Woods (11.9 PPG) – Transferring to Ohio State, Doral Moore (11.1 PPG), Mitchell Wilbekin (8.6 PPG), Terrence Thompson (3.5 PPG), Donovan Mitchell (2.9 PPG) – Transferring, Sam Japhet-Mathias (1.0 PPG), Troy Rike (0.8 PPG)
Who is Back: Brandon Childress (9.1 PPG), Chaundee Brown (7.6 PPG), Olivier Sarr (3.2 PPG), Melo Eggleston (1.0 PPG), Sunday Okeke (0.5 PPG), Aaron Spivey (0.3 PPG), Britton Anderson (0.3 PPG), Anthony Bilas (0.0 PPG)
Who Did They Add: Jaylen Hoard (#6 SF), Isaiah Mucius (#21 SF), Jamie Lewis (#23 CG), Sharone Wright Jr. (#46 PG), Christian Lorng (#56 C), Ikenna Smart (Transfer – Buffalo), Torry Johnson (Transfer – Northern Arizona),
Projected Starting Lineup: G Brandon Childress, G Torrey Johnson, G Chaundee Brown, F Jaylen Hoard, C Olivier Sarr
Wake Forest is losing too much talent and production from last year for them to rank anywhere other than second-to-last or last in the ACC entering the season. The loss of Bryant Crawford and Doral Moore to the draft hurts Danny Manning’s squad this season, as well as the loss of transfer Keyshawn Woods. The only good thing going for the Demon Deacons is that they had the #4 recruiting class in the ACC this season, highlighted by 5-star recruit, Jaylen Hoard. He will immediately start for Wake Forest and look to resurrect a broken program that was in the NCAA Tournament just two seasons ago. Maybe Wake Forest will be something in years to come, but for now, they will likely take Pittsburgh spot in the ACC rankings from last season.
(All photos from SI.com)