The ACC’s Top 25 Returning Players: 10-5

As the countdown enters the top ten the big men start to dominate

It is funny how the countdown hashes out when you arrive at the final product. In part three, we had a run on talented perimeter wings and combo guards. In Part 4, we have a sale on big men on aisle five.

Before we reveal numbers 10-5, let’s take a look at our list so far:

25Jalen Cone
24Manny Bates
23Isaiah Wong
22MJ Walker
21David Johnson
20Dane Goodwin
19Matthew Hurt
18Moses Wright
17Tyrece Radford
16Armando Bacot
15Jay Heath
14Xavier Johnson
13Buddy Boeheim
12Prentiss Hubb
11Mike Devoe

We are down to the top ten, here are #10-5.

#10-Aamir simms-f/c-clemson

photo courtesy of TheClemsonInsider.com

I was admittedly a bit of a Simms fan when he was a wing but I am all about this guy as a small ball five. Aamir returns for his senior season after testing the NBA draft waters and I am pretty high on Clemson. After moving from the wing to the post he saw a 62% increase in points per game, a 64% increase in rebounds per game and though he trimmed down his three point attempts from 121 to just 85, his percentage went from 33.1% to 40% from deep. He was also an All-Conference third team selection in 2019-20. He is primed for a huge season in 2020-21.

#9-DJ Funderburk-Center-North Carolina State

photo courtesy of GoPack.com

Apart from a player we have yet to get to, Funderburk’s decision to return to college was possibly the biggest in the ACC. The Wolfpack big man averaged 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds last season for coach Kevin Keatts and had moments (21-9 in a W vs Duke) when he was flat out spectacular. To close the season in 2019-20 he averaged 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 62% from the floor over his last 7 games. Coach Keatts will have some interesting lineup choices this season as to when to play both Funderburk and sophomore Manny Bates (#24 on this list) together.

#8-Steffon Mitchell-Forward-boston college

photo courtesy of BCEagles.com

Easily one of my favorite players in the conference, Steffon Mitchell has made himself into a player. Mitchell has gone from a kid who couldn’t shoot to the popular selection to win the Defensive Player of the Year award in the ACC this season. He is also the quintessential “glue guy” in college basketball. Last season, this guy averaged 7.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.2 steals, and a block for good measure. Going back to the 1992-93 season he is the ONLY ACC player to have done that. Boston College has potential this season if they can remain healthy some players develop (CJ Felder), it would be a treat to watch Mitchell lock up one of the best players in the nation during March Madness.

#7-devon daniels-wing-north carolina state

photo courtesy of the Raleigh News & Observer

The second member of the Pack in the top ten, I love Daniels’ game. This guy plays hard on both ends of the floor, pushes tempo, and fills the stat sheet. Given the losses of Markell Johnson and CJ Bryce, Daniels should receive a ton of opportunities to make a name for himself this season. Last season, the former Utah Ute averaged 12.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. He is a stat-sheet-stuffer and if the Pack are going to play in March, he needs to lead this team.

#6-Kihei Clark-Point Guard-Virginia

photo courtesy of Herald Mail Media

The guy who made the pass to the guy that hit the shot. Going into last season I didn’t think Clark’s ceiling was very high. His floor was high but I did not see much star potential in him as far as counting statistics. Welp, after Clark averaged 10.8 points, 5.9 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals and shooting 37.5% from deep, the loudmouthed northeast Yankee would like to retract his previous statement. Going into the 2020 season, Clark should have a more capable cast around him which should lead to greater personal success. I won’t bet against him very often going forward. Fool me once…

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