ACC Basketball: Predicting The Most Improved Player on Each ACC Team

Doug Brodess@DougbrodessCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2012

ACC Basketball: Predicting The Most Improved Player on Each ACC Team

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    This year's ACC men's basketball season promises to be full throttle and super competitive.

    NC State was recently picked by the league's coaches to come out on top.

    UNC and Duke will be right there, bearing down on the Wolfpack. Miami, Florida State and Maryland are looking to jump up into the top tier.

    Because the remaining six teams (Virginia, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Boston College) aren't conceding anything will make for an exciting year of hoops action in one of the best conference's in CBB. 

    Check out a lightning-fast look at the most improved players on each Atlantic Coast Conference team for '12-13.

Boston College: Dennis Clifford

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    To say that Boston College's 2011-12 season was challenging is an understatement.

    By playing with an almost all-freshman roster, Steve Donahue knew that he was facing a huge task.

    Ryan Anderson and Matt Humphrey were the Eagles most consistent performers.

    But 7'0" sophomore center Dennis Clifford may show the greatest amount of development. 

    Clifford (8.9 ppg; 4.7 rpg) has added 25 pounds to his slender frame and is ready to be a stopper in the middle.

    Early in conference play last year, the big man from Bridgewater, MA showed glimpses of what could be an every-night occurrence this year.

    In one three-game stretch, Clifford averaged 14 points and six rebounds.

Clemson: Milton Jennings

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    Clemson fans are ready for Milton Jennings to have a breakout senior season.

    The 6'9", 225 lbs forward has all of the physical tools to be an all-ACC performer.

    But last year, he was suspended twice and never found that place of consistency.

    As a junior, Jennings averaged 9.7 ppg and 5.6 rpg.

    His best performance last year was a 15-point, eight-rebound outing as the Tigers routed Florida State in early January.

Duke: Quinn Cook

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    If point-guard play is one of the big question marks for the Blue Devils going into the 2012-13 season, sophomore Quinn Cook is the resounding answer.

    After battling injuries his last year of high school and as a freshman at Duke, Cook may be ready to emerge as Coach K's next excellent floor leader.

    In limited duty last year (less than 12 minutes per game), Cook handled and distributed the ball effectively, putting up a fantastic 3.5 assist-to-turnover ratio.

    If he has regained his lateral and vertical quickness, he could be the catalyst for an outstanding season in Durham. 

Florida State: Okaro White

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    Okaro White has proven himself to be a versatile defensive specialist for Florida State.

    At 6'8" and 205, White uses his length and athleticism to create all kinds of difficulty for ACC SFs.

    On the offensive end, he is a good shooter (48 percent from the field and 75 percent from the line); he simply needs to become more assertive and look for his shot.

    While his numbers (7.7 ppg; 4.4 rpg) were not bad, Seminoles head coach Leonard Hamilton is banking on the fact that White can become a more consistent, double-figure scorer in '12-13.

Georgia Tech: Mfon Udofia

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    Senior Mfon Udofia is the spark that could help Georgia Tech get out of the ACC basement.

    Last year, Udofia was the Yellow Jackets assists leader (2.8 apg) and No. 2 scorer (9.9 ppg).

    While he may not put up many more points in his last year at Tech, the 6'2" PG finally has legitimate scorers around him that can take care of the heavy lifting.

    Udofia just needs to run the show and help GT win more than four conference games in 2012-13.

Maryland: Nick Faust

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    At one time or another last year, Nick Faust did a little bit of everything: scoring, playmaking, rebounding.

    He played all three perimeter positions and is the Terrapins' top returning scorer (8.9 ppg).

    The 6-6 Baltimore native was voted to the 2012 ACC's All-Freshman team and could be a star.

    Write it down! Faust will use his length and athleticism to become one of the best SGs in the ACC this season.

Miami: Trey McKinney-Jones

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    Trey McKinney Jones played two seasons at UMKC before taking his talents to The U.

    Last year, the 6'5", 220 lb. wing started 12 games and averaged 7 ppg and 3.5 rpg.

    TMKJ has surprising quickness and hops for a player of his size, and he will most likely be one of the Hurricanes' best three-point shooters.

    As a senior playing alongside Durand Scott and Shane Larkin in the Hurricane backcourt, McKinney Jones may be one of the real under-the-radar surprises in the ACC.

North Carolina: James Michael McAdoo

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    In 2012-13, James Michael McAdoo will be the focal point of a revamped Tar Heel team that needs to  replace 55 points and 27 rebounds per game.

    McAdoo proved at the end of last season that he is more than capable of taking on a lead role for UNC.

    The 6'9", 230 lb PF has all of the tools to be a force on both ends of the court. He can score the ball facing up or with his back to the basket.

    Very few players have the capability to move from being a 16-minute-per-game reserve to become one of  the best frontcourt players in the nation.

    James Michael McAdoo is one of those few players.

NC State: Richard Howell

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    Richard Howell is a crucial player for NC State in the upcoming season.

    His consistent contribution is a must if the Wolfpack are going to fulfill some of the preseason predictions that put them on top of the ACC.

    Last season, Howell was third in the ACC in rebounding (9.2 rpg) and scored in double figures 21 times.

    The problem was the 6'8", 250 lb post player got into frequent foul trouble (at least four fouls in 19 games) in 2011-12.

    Howell fouled out of five games last year. NC State lost four of those.

    But, Howell, who finished the 2011-12 season with strong performances in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments, will build off of those outings and help the Wolfpack challenge for the conference championship.

Virginia: Jontel Evans

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    Very few players currently playing in the ACC have more experience than Jontel Evans.

    The 5'11", 188 lb guard has played in every game (94) since coming to Charlottesville.

    Last year as a junior, he posted career highs in assists (3.9 apg) and steals (1.6 spg) and was named to the ACC's All-Defensive team.

    But the best is still yet to come.

    The Cavs will lean on Evans even more in his final year, and he will deliver the same consistent play as a floor general, plus add to his 7.3 ppg scoring average as a junior.

Virginia Tech: Robert Brown

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    What can Robert Brown do for Virginia Tech? Be a breakout player in 2012-13.

    The 6'5" guard had a solid freshman season (6.8 ppg; 2.1 rpg), and will be counted on to fill some of the gaps created by significant departures from graduation, transfers and defaulted commitments.

    Brown and senior All-ACC selection Erick Green should be one of the most forceful wing combos in the league.

Wake Forest: Chase Fischer

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    As a freshman, Chase Fischer provided an outside scoring threat off the bench.

    Fischer averaged 6.3 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 26.1 minutes per game, and he will draw from that valuable experience to elevate his game in the upcoming season.

    The Demon Deacons are hoping for more production from the 6'3" SG to help them get out of the ACC basement and back into a place of respectability in league play.