Sophomore guards look to revive ACC

A loaded group of sophomore guards look to make the ACC a force

In the not so distant past the Atlantic Coast Conference was the proud owner of a plethora of quality big men. I even wrote about it once upon a time. In fact, from 2016-17 to 2019-20, ten ACC big men logged seasons of at least 500 points and 300 rebounds.

NameSchoolPointsReboundsBlocks
Marvin Bagley IIIDuke69436629
Bonzie ColsonNotre Dame63936250
John CollinsWake Forest63232452
Luke MayeUNC62537338
Oshae BrissettSyracuse55332729
Luke MayeUNC53537720
Ben LammersGeorgia Tech527342125
John MooneyNotre Dame50239321
Wendell Carter JrDuke50133576
Kenny MeeksUNC50137847
Statistics courtesy of Sports-reference.com

Let’s all take a quick second to remind ourselves that Luke Maye was in fact, very effing good.

The point to this is that, in just a few short years, there has been a changing of the…guard, in the ACC. As the game of basketball shifts to analytics and focuses on three-point shooting and small ball, the days of the seven-footer are all but behind us. Now, granted, Oshae Brissett is not even close to a seven-foot center like some others on that list (hell, some were only 6’9 or so) but the point remains.

While the ACC was down last season in comparison to its tradition, there was a sort of transition that was in its infancy within the conference. Good, young, quality guards. In the following table, you will see the stable of quality freshmen guards who received at least 600 minutes of run and scored 200 or more points along with 30 or more assists. This table only includes players that are returning to school this season.

Query Results Table
Totals
Rk Player Class Season Pos School Conf G MP FG FGA 2P 2PA 3P 3PA FT FTA ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
3Jay HeathFR2019-20GBoston CollegeACC311031149354841816517343781985104663936973406
4Joseph Girard IIIFR2019-20GSyracuseACC32105712235152135702168494592971134736047398
6Tyrece RadfordFR2019-20GVirginia TechACC328421342221332101125681701291995531102547325
7Nahiem AlleyneFR2019-20GVirginia TechACC32832922374311149126486366975461262751281
8Al-Amir DawesFR2019-20GClemsonACC3192393244459348151455768187763017855279
9Isaiah WongFR2019-20GMiami (FL)ACC316567919060139195163763359923215115243240
10Harlond BeverlyFR2019-20GMiami (FL)ACC31617852107114614644054116071712166948224
11Hunter CattoorFR2019-20GVirginia TechACC3162869165183851127142247377353141644203
Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 6/16/2020.

Look at Jay Heath’s numbers. I’ll wait. I think we all knew he had a good season last year but those numbers are phenomenal. Also, how about Hunter Cattoor only logging 16 turnovers in over 600 minutes played? Incredible. For the record, Landers Nolley was also on this list which would have given Virginia Tech coach Mike Young a quintet of good young guards during the upcoming season. I guess he will have to settle for a barbershop quartet.

How about shooters? If you would like to see some shooters, we have those in this class as well. The following table is guards from last season who attempted at least 40 shots from behind the arc and shot at least 40%.

Query Results Table
Totals Shooting
Rk Player Class Season Pos School Conf G MP FG FGA 2P 2PA 3P 3PA FT FTA ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS FG% 2P% 3P% FT%
1Jalen ConeFR2019-20GVirginia TechACC325898019616566414031354323622613047255.408.286.457.886
2Hunter CattoorFR2019-20GVirginia TechACC3162869165183851127142247377353141644203.418.474.402.636
3Alex HemenwayFR2019-20GClemsonACC151832550582042223101360061272.500.625.4761.000
Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 6/16/2020.

One thing you should always take into consideration is that not every freshman hits the ground running. There were a couple instances where some freshmen didn’t necessarily acclimate to scoring right away but contributed in other ways. These young men each logged at least 75 rebounds and 75 assists in their debut campaign:

Query Results Table
Totals
Rk Player Class Season Pos School Conf G MP FG FGA 2P 2PA 3P 3PA FT FTA ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
3Joseph Girard IIIFR2019-20GSyracuseACC32105712235152135702168494592971134736047398
4Al-Amir DawesFR2019-20GClemsonACC3192393244459348151455768187763017855279
5David JohnsonFR2019-20GLouisvilleACC2743271144661215232440294776751875146171
Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 6/16/2020.

These tables don’t even take into account some of the freshmen whose seasons were derailed by injury or other factors. North Carolina guard Anthony Harris was a four star combo guard that was lost to a knee injury after only five games last season. He was the 72nd ranked recruit in the 2019 class according to 247sports.com and averaged 6.8 points per game while shooting 42% from distance before being ruled out.

Clemson guard Chase Hunter was lost after just nine games last season. Hunter was the #127 player in the 2019 class according to 247sports.com and averaged 5.3 points and 1.6 assists before his season was lost.

North Carolina State freshman guard Dereon Seabron was ruled an “academic redshirt” by the NCAA last season after he failed to make it through the clearing house. Seabron was the #129 player according to 247sports.com in the 2019 class. He is not technically a sophomore this season but he is a second year player and he is very (very) talented as a combo guard that stands every bit of 6’7.

As far as tough luck goes, did anyone have more than freshman Casey Morsell last season? Morsell was one of the most celebrated incoming freshmen in the ACC last season but just couldn’t seem to put it all together. Over the last seven games of the season he was able to shoot over 36% from deep so that was a step in the right direction.

One player that came out of absolutely nowhere was Wake Forest point guard Jahcobi Neath. I have to admit, given Wake Forest’s roster last season, I assumed Brandon Childress would be 40 minute man each night. Neath was able to carve out a role however and was a very pleasant surprise for the Demon Deacons.

Neath came to Winston-Salem as the 284th ranked player in the 2019 class by 247sports.com and was able to put up nice all around numbers for Danny Manning. The 6’3 point guard averaged 5.5 points and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 48% from deep albeit on just 25 attempts. Over the Deac’s final seven games, Neath started four and averaged 10.1 points, 4.4 assists, 2.6 rebounds and shot 5-9 from distance.

New Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes keeping Neath in town was a huge victory for the former ETSU head man.

So in closing, here is a table of each and every freshmen mentioned in this piece (with the exception of Seabron) and their statistics from last season.

Query Results Table
Totals
Rk Player Class Season Pos School Conf G MP FG FGA 2P 2PA 3P 3PA FT FTA ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
4Jay HeathFR2019-20GBoston CollegeACC311031149354841816517343781985104663936973406
5Joseph Girard IIIFR2019-20GSyracuseACC32105712235152135702168494592971134736047398
7Tyrece RadfordFR2019-20GVirginia TechACC328421342221332101125681701291995531102547325
8Nahiem AlleyneFR2019-20GVirginia TechACC32832922374311149126486366975461262751281
9Al-Amir DawesFR2019-20GClemsonACC3192393244459348151455768187763017855279
10Jalen ConeFR2019-20GVirginia TechACC325898019616566414031354323622613047255
11Isaiah WongFR2019-20GMiami (FL)ACC316567919060139195163763359923215115243240
12Harlond BeverlyFR2019-20GMiami (FL)ACC31617852107114614644054116071712166948224
13Hunter CattoorFR2019-20GVirginia TechACC3162869165183851127142247377353141644203
14David JohnsonFR2019-20GLouisvilleACC2743271144661215232440294776751875146171
15Jahcobi NeathFR2019-20GWake ForestACC3055454128421031225386574956671515349158
18Casey MorsellFR2019-20GVirginiaACC306534616631811585121484351221852649119
19Alex HemenwayFR2019-20GClemsonACC151832550582042223101360061272
Totals
Rk Player Class Season Pos School Conf G MP FG FGA 2P 2PA 3P 3PA FT FTA ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
21Chase HunterFR2019-20GClemsonACC9174174510227237111891470121748
24Anthony HarrisFR2019-20GNorth CarolinaACC560122291537783253402634
Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 6/16/2020.

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