Basketball

ACC Facing Big Time Departures

The landscape of college basketball is always in flux. With graduating seniors, the freshman one-and-done phenomena, and rampant underclassmen NBA Draft declarations, change itself is the only constant. This year’s group of ACC departures looks to be staggeringly impactful across the board. Examining the mass exodus of All-ACC performers provides a quick peak into how dramatically different the league will look next season.

Duke guard Grayson Allen is the only guaranteed returning First Team All-ACC member. Among those exiting are the conference’s leading scorer Cat Barber, league leader in field goal percentage and total rebounds Brice Johnson, and Malcolm Brodgon the ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Clemson Junior Jaron Blossomgame, who rounds out the First Team, has declared early for the NBA draft.

Going deeper down the line further highlights the true magnitude of player turnover to come. Only 2 of 15 All Conference selections will be back next year, Grayson Allen and Pitt forward Michael Young, a third team All-ACC selection. That marks an absurd 86 percent of the conference’s top talent currently set to walk out the door.

That final figure may be subject to change. Jaron Blossomgame and Second Team All-ACC guard Demetrius Jackson from Notre Dame, both juniors, entered the draft without hiring an agent, leaving open a potential return if they don’t like their expected draft prospects. However, fellow Junior Cat Barber has hired an agent, giving up the right to withdraw his name from the NBA Draft.

Along with outgoing seniors and fairly seasoned underclassmen, the ACC was also hit with two uber talented freshman leaving. Duke forward Brandon Ingram garnered a second team All-ACC nod and was named ACC Freshman of the Year. Electric Florida State freshman Malik Beasley averaged 15 points and 5 rebounds per game in his lone college campaign. Both fantastic freshman chose to ply their trade in the professional ranks next season.

The ACC leader board looks downright barren when you remove the recently departed. The players occupying the top spots in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, and minutes played per game are all on the way out. That’s pretty much every major statistical category. In fact, as things currently stand the ACC will have to replace 9 of its top 10 scorers, as well as the top 4 leaders in rebounding and assists.

Several teams atop the conference were stripped of particularly important pieces. Still reeling from a gut wrenching loss in the National Championship UNC is losing two seniors, stud big man Brice Johnson and point guard Marcus Paige, who played his heart out keeping the team afloat in the title game.

Virginia bids a fond farewell to its most accomplished player of the Tony Bennett era, Malcolm Brogdon, as well as solid forward Anthony Gill. Miami is being stripped of its dynamic backcourt partners Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan. Notre Dame will most likely have to replace their talented inside, outside tandem of Zach Auguste and Demetrius Jackson. Jackson could still return if he pulls his name from the NBA Draft, but his consideration as a first round might be too enticing.

Louisville’s team is clouded with the uncertainty of possible NCAA sanctions and will be without its top two scorers, Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. Sophomore Center Chinanu Onuako entered his name for draft consideration too.

After a Cinderella Final 4 run Syracuse has to replace two key cogs, team leaders Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney. That blow is slightly softened by the encouraging play of freshman Tyler Lydon and Malachi Richardson, who appear ready to carry the torch.

Duke is staring down considerable losses. The team’s emotional anchor Marshall Plumlee graduates, freshman phenom Brandon Ingram to the NBA, and freshman guard Derryck Thornton has decided to transfer. Veteran forward Amile Jefferson is petitioning for a medical redshirt and hopes to return.

Though Coach K is no stranger to transforming his team year to year, he has recently embraced the one and done nature of the games top talents. Following Duke’s title run two years ago freshman trio Jalil Okafor, Justice Winslow, and Tyus Jones all left for the pros. Some teams would call it a rebuild, the Blue Devils simply reload. Their incoming recruiting class touts the nation’s top two prospects, Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum.

Despite all the roster upheaval there is still a silver lining to be had. The moving on of the old guard leaves the door open for fresh faces. Tomorrow’s top dogs are tolling away in campus gyms right now honing their craft. Hungry developing players will take the next leap, and incoming freshman will tantalize us with their raw ability. Though the ACC cupboard may look bare now, come next fall new stars will arrive, shining bright enough to fill up all the empty space.

Key Departures (listed in order of final ACC standings)

UNC: Brice Johnson, Marcus Paige

UVA: Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey

Miami: Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan

Louisville: Damion Lee, Trey Lewis, Chinanu Onuako declared without agent

Notre Dame: Zach Auguste, Demetrius Jackson declared without agent

Duke: Brandon Ingram declared with agent, Amile Jefferson(pending medical redshirt status), Marshall Plumlee, Derryck Thornton transfer

Virginia Tech: Jalen Hudson transfer

Clemson: Landry Nnoko, Jordan Roper, Jaron Blossomgame declared without agent

Pitt: James Robinson, Rafael Maia

Syracuse: Michael Gbinije, Trevor Cooney, Kaleb Joseph transfer

Georgia Tech: Marcus Georges-Hunt, Nick Jacobs, Adam Smith, Charles Mitchell

Florida State: Malik Beasley declared with agent, Boris Bojanovsky, Devon Bookert

NC State: Cat Barber declared with agent, Malik Abu declared without agent, Cody Martin transfer, Caleb Martin transfer

Wake Forest: Devin Thomas, Codi Miller-McIntyre, Andre Washington transfer, Rondale Watson transfer

Boston College: Eli Carter, Dennis Clifford

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