In the past, this article was titled “Get Familiar with These Three.” This year we are going to transition the title to what it actually is, the ACC’s deep sleepers. Guys that played fewer than 8-10 minutes per game last season that could help shape the league this season.
Last season, I struck out, BIG TIME. Whether it was lack of growth, injuries or just a continued lack of opportunity. In the case of Hunter Tyson, he wasn’t really bad, he just only played 13 minutes per game. Robert Braswell suffered unexplained pain (the cause is still undetermined) in his legs and was held out for most of the season. As far as Sjolund goes, that may have been my own personal bias or his inability to play effective defense. You can take your pick on that one.
In the first release prior to the 2018-19 season, two of the three kind of hit. Clyde Trapp and Raiquan Gray are both highly appreciated by their fan bases while Tyrie Jackson transferred out of the Virginia Tech program.
So why this self deprecating trip down memory lane you may ask? It is just to acknowledge the fact that when we go this deep into the ACC rosters, mistakes will happen. Sometimes you swing and miss. But, it also reminds me to be humble in my selections and makes me strive to be better. This year? I think I have it nailed.
Here are the three deep sleepers in the ACC that could help shape the league standings in 2020-21.
This is a name you have almost certainly heard before. North Carolina fans certainly have. Caffaro came off the bench on 12/8 to go 4-5 from the field and score 10 points and snag 7 boards in 21 minutes while Virginia held the Heels to 47 points in Charlottesville.
Unfortunately for Virginia fans, that was the peak of the season for the seven-foot Argentinian as foul trouble limited him most of the season. In fact, outside of that North Carolina game Caffaro logged 23 fouls and scored only 18 points on the season.
Caffaro needs to address his proneness to commit fouls on the defensive end if he is going to be a quality bench piece for Tony Bennett. In the past, Bennett has limited Jay Huff’s minutes for the most part, never playing him more than 25 minutes per game in Huff’s three seasons. The opportunity is there for Caffaro to be a weapon off the bench for the Wahoos.
As some of you may well know, one of the tools I love to use is the per 40 minute number. Now, there are certain problems with relying on it solely but when it’s just a piece of a larger evaluation it can be applied with confidence.
Edwards is a per 40 guy that I love. In a shade under 7 minutes per game as a freshman, Jesse put up per 40 numbers of 13.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. So, obviously Edwards is not going to play that many minutes as he will certainly be backing up Bourama Sidibe this season but the potential to be impactful is there. Given how often Coach Jim Boeheim seems to be riding Sidibe, it’s incredibly likely that Edwards will see a large jump in minutes during his second season.
The native of the Netherlands came to Syracuse with a reputation as a high end rim protector and that is exactly where he should impact the game this season. Edwards had some flashes last season, in a game against Bucknell, he logged 10 points and 5 rebounds with 2 blocks in just 14 minutes of play. Later in the season, he put up 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 8 minutes against Louisville. Have I mentioned that he shot nearly 80% from the floor on the season?
wyatt wilkes-forward-florida state
While I believe that the first two on this list have potential, I purposely saved the most obvious for last. Wyatt Wilkes is an incredibly talented shooter who was highly sought after in high school by more ACC schools than just the Seminoles.
As a junior, he played just 9.1 minutes per game but put up a 113+ offensive rating and shot 38.1% from behind the arc. His 100+ defensive rating leaves a lot to be desired but on a team that lost arguably the best back court in the ACC, along with the sixth man of the year, there is ample opportunity for Wilkes to step up.
Over a four game stretch at the end of January, Wilkes averaged 10.8 points in just 13.5 minutes per game while shooting 57.7% from the floor overall and 57.9% from behind the arc on 19 attempts. On January 25th against Notre Dame, he shot 5-6 from behind the arc and scored 19 points in 19 minutes in a Florida State victory at home.
Though incoming stud freshman Scottie Barnes is a forward, you can expect him to play on the ball a lot which will open up opportunities for both Wilkes and Raiquan Gray at the four spot. With Wilkes, M.J. Walker and Anthony Polite along with incoming JUCO Sardaar Calhoun, the ‘Noles will have tremendous shooters all over the court, creating space for Barnes to go to work.