Never have I been so upset with such a meaningless distinction as I was when the 2013-2014 Preseason All-ACC Team was announced.
Four of the five players had never even played a minute in the ACC, and only two of the players deserved this distinction in my opinion.
The Actual Team: CJ Fair, Rodney Hood, Joe Harris, Jerian Grant, Jabari Parker
To me, no freshman deserves to be in this group, even the highly-touted Jabari Parker. It's too good of a league with plenty of players who have already proven themselves as elite.
Therefore, instead of trying to project the freshman, I would simply announce an exclusive Preseason "All-Freshman" team:
G Anthony Barber (NC State)
G Tyler Ennis (Syracuse)
G Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame)
F Jabari Parker (Duke)
F Isaiah Hicks (UNC)
Honorable Mention: G Roddy Peters (MD), G Matt Jones (DUKE), G Xavier Rathan-Mayes (FSU), F Beejay Anya (Syracuse)
16 of the top 100 freshman according to ESPN will be debuting in the ACC this season, making the list above a competitive one.
Barber will be one of just three ACC-caliber players on the Wolfpack roster, so it's fair to say he will be putting up numbers. The other four are supreme talents that would be stars on any team. Ennis will run the point for a top-10 Syracuse team, and Jackson will do the same for No. 21 Notre Dame.
Parker is the No. 2 rated player of his class and the projected No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
Hicks was the last one to make the list, only because he has a lot of competition for playing time. He should be able to play along side James Michael McAdoo, but he'll have to beat out Joel James, Brice Johnson and fellow freshman Kennedy Meeks in order to start. I say he does.
On to the upper classmen:
First Team All-ACC
G Joe Harris (Virginia)
G Dez Wells (Maryland)
F CJ Fair (Syracuse)
F James McAdoo (UNC)
F Akil Mitchell (Virginia)
I'm sure Akil Mitchell is the name that jumps off the page. You might not even know who he is. But he averaged 13 and 9 a year ago, registering 13 double-doubles. He begins the season as the conference's top returning rebounder, and has the second highest field goal percentage of all returners (TJ Warren is first). Mitchell shot it at 55% last year, and will be anchoring the middle on an improved UVA team.
Speaking of Virginia, Joe Harris is the general of the squad and also deserves to be on this list. At 16.3 PPG, you might be surprised to discover that the sharp-shooter is the ACC's top returning scorer.CJ Fair is a no-brainer. Having scored 15 a game last year, he'll step in to be "the man" with Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Triche and James Southerland all departing.
McAdoo put up 14 and 7 in 2012-2013 and is surprisingly still in Chapel Hill. It's about time he reaches his No. 6 overall Class of 2011 status, right?
Last but not least, the selection of Dez Wells might raise some eyebrows as well. But the former Xavier transfer will be the go-to guy for Maryland after the departure of Alex Len. Wells outscored Len last year and averaged 22 PPG in the ACC tournament, including a 30-point performance in a win over Duke. He can score in a variety of ways and will fill the stat sheet all season long.
G Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke)
G PJ Hairston (UNC)
F TJ Warren (NC ST)
F Okaro White (FSU)
F Travis McKie (WAKE)
McKie might be the most accomplished player in the conference, having collected over 1300 points and 600 rebounds in three seasons. But, he plays for Wake Forest and will be triple-teamed all season without CJ Harris around.
Warren is the league's top returning shooter (62%), and is the only key contributor to return to Raleigh.
Hairston and Sulaimon have cases to be on the First Team, but both will be sharing shots on talented rosters. You can make the argument that Sulaimon is a one-dimensional player, with scoring being his prime talent. Hairston has a host of help, and will begin the season sitting out with compliance issues.
G Jerian Grant (Notre Dame)
G Olivier Hanlan (Boston College)
F Jarell Eddie (Virginia Tech)
F Rodney Hood (Duke)
F Ryan Anderson (Boston College)
Grant has averaged 13 a game over his first two seasons, but his presence on the First Team is a joke. He's never shot above 41% in either of his two seasons. He may not even be the best guard on his own team, with Eric Atkins, Pat Connaughton and Demetrius Jackson providing the competition.
Hanlan was the ACC Rookie of the Year and can absolutely stroke it.
Hood's appearance on the First Team is also unwarranted, with only one so-so season in the SEC to his record. If you want to talk transfers, Maryland's Evan Smotrycz shot it at 48% for a Sweet 16 team in Michigan, so why isn't he here? The only reason I put Hood this high is because Duke has nowhere else to go down low.
G Quinn Cook (Duke)
G Eric Atkins (Notre Dame)
G Lamar Patterson (Pitt)
F Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse)
C Daniel Miller (Georgia Tech)
Miller is really the only true center in the ACC, having blocked better than two shots per game last year. He will be a big presence in the middle, looking to better his 51% field goal percentage from last year.
Patterson is the top returner for Pitt, and Atkins will join Jerian Grant as the senior leaders on a ranked Irish team.
Quinn Cook is an accomplished ACC point guard and Rakeem Christmas is poised to have a big year as an athletic big man.
Honorable Mention: Justin Anderson (UVA), Robert Carter Jr. (GT), Pat Connaughton (ND), Andre Dawkins (DUKE), Nick Faust (MD), Jake Layman (MD), KJ McDaniels (Clemson), Marcus Paige (UNC), Evan Smotrycz (MD)
For the record, here are my predicted conference standings:
1. Duke (15-3) - #1 seed in the NCAA tournament
2. Virginia (13-5) - #4 seed
Syracuse (13-5) - #4 seed
4. North Carolina (12-6) - #6 seed
5. Maryland (11-7) - #8 seed
Notre Dame (11-7) - #9 seed
7. Florida State (9-9) - #12 seed
8. Boston College (8-10) - NIT
NC State (8-10) - NIT
10. Pittsburgh (7-11) - NIT
Georgia Tech (7-11) - CBI
12. Clemson (5-13)
Virginia Tech (5-13)
14. Miami (4-14)
15. Wake Forest (3-15)