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.
|Marvin Bagley III||Duke||694||366||29|
|Bonzie Colson||Notre Dame||639||362||50|
|John Collins||Wake Forest||632||324||52|
|Ben Lammers||Georgia Tech||527||342||125|
|John Mooney||Notre Dame||502||393||21|
|Wendell Carter Jr||Duke||501||335||76|
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.
|3||Jay Heath||FR||2019-20||G||Boston College||ACC||31||1031||149||354||84||181||65||173||43||78||19||85||104||66||39||3||69||73||406|
|4||Joseph Girard III||FR||2019-20||G||Syracuse||ACC||32||1057||122||351||52||135||70||216||84||94||5||92||97||113||47||3||60||47||398|
|6||Tyrece Radford||FR||2019-20||G||Virginia Tech||ACC||32||842||134||222||133||210||1||12||56||81||70||129||199||55||31||10||25||47||325|
|7||Nahiem Alleyne||FR||2019-20||G||Virginia Tech||ACC||32||832||92||237||43||111||49||126||48||63||6||69||75||46||12||6||27||51||281|
|9||Isaiah Wong||FR||2019-20||G||Miami (FL)||ACC||31||656||79||190||60||139||19||51||63||76||33||59||92||32||15||11||52||43||240|
|10||Harlond Beverly||FR||2019-20||G||Miami (FL)||ACC||31||617||85||210||71||146||14||64||40||54||11||60||71||71||21||6||69||48||224|
|11||Hunter Cattoor||FR||2019-20||G||Virginia Tech||ACC||31||628||69||165||18||38||51||127||14||22||4||73||77||35||31||4||16||44||203|
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%.
|1||Jalen Cone||FR||2019-20||G||Virginia Tech||ACC||32||589||80||196||16||56||64||140||31||35||4||32||36||22||6||1||30||47||255||.408||.286||.457||.886|
|2||Hunter Cattoor||FR||2019-20||G||Virginia Tech||ACC||31||628||69||165||18||38||51||127||14||22||4||73||77||35||31||4||16||44||203||.418||.474||.402||.636|
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:
|3||Joseph Girard III||FR||2019-20||G||Syracuse||ACC||32||1057||122||351||52||135||70||216||84||94||5||92||97||113||47||3||60||47||398|
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.
|4||Jay Heath||FR||2019-20||G||Boston College||ACC||31||1031||149||354||84||181||65||173||43||78||19||85||104||66||39||3||69||73||406|
|5||Joseph Girard III||FR||2019-20||G||Syracuse||ACC||32||1057||122||351||52||135||70||216||84||94||5||92||97||113||47||3||60||47||398|
|7||Tyrece Radford||FR||2019-20||G||Virginia Tech||ACC||32||842||134||222||133||210||1||12||56||81||70||129||199||55||31||10||25||47||325|
|8||Nahiem Alleyne||FR||2019-20||G||Virginia Tech||ACC||32||832||92||237||43||111||49||126||48||63||6||69||75||46||12||6||27||51||281|
|10||Jalen Cone||FR||2019-20||G||Virginia Tech||ACC||32||589||80||196||16||56||64||140||31||35||4||32||36||22||6||1||30||47||255|
|11||Isaiah Wong||FR||2019-20||G||Miami (FL)||ACC||31||656||79||190||60||139||19||51||63||76||33||59||92||32||15||11||52||43||240|
|12||Harlond Beverly||FR||2019-20||G||Miami (FL)||ACC||31||617||85||210||71||146||14||64||40||54||11||60||71||71||21||6||69||48||224|
|13||Hunter Cattoor||FR||2019-20||G||Virginia Tech||ACC||31||628||69||165||18||38||51||127||14||22||4||73||77||35||31||4||16||44||203|
|15||Jahcobi Neath||FR||2019-20||G||Wake Forest||ACC||30||554||54||128||42||103||12||25||38||65||7||49||56||67||15||1||53||49||158|
|24||Anthony Harris||FR||2019-20||G||North Carolina||ACC||5||60||12||22||9||15||3||7||7||8||3||2||5||3||4||0||2||6||34|