The Atlantic Coast Conference will very likely be the most competitive league in college basketball in 2013-14.
With the addition of Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame, the ACC could easily have six or more teams in the Top 25.
Though the league will not lack for top-level talent, here are 10 new faces who will have the biggest impact on ACC basketball in the upcoming season.
With a mixture of first-class freshmen and top-notch transfers, this could be one of the most fierce conference races in recent memory.
Player information provided by ESPN.com.
Florida State’s Xavier Rathan Mayes has the size, skills and scoring ability to immediately jump into the Seminoles’ rotation.
Rathan-Mayes’ ESPN Insider scouting report (subscription required) says:
A super skilled, young guard, Rathan-Mayes has a great shooting stroke from behind the arc as well as off the dribble and a good understanding of how to create space in the mid-range area.
The timing of Rathan-Mayes’ arrival in Tallahassee is perfect. The ‘Noles only return one player, Okaro White, who averaged more than seven points per game last season.
Also, Michael Snaer’s departure leaves a gaping hole in head coach Leonard Mitchell’s backcourt. Someone needs to step up and provide some scoring punch. Rathan-Mayes could be the one who fills those gaps.
North Carolina’s Nate Britt may not start a single game this coming season for the Tar Heels. But the PG from D.C. could have a huge freshman season in Chapel Hill.
He will most likely begin his collegiate career backing up sophomore PG Marcus Paige. Because Britt is a pass-first distributor and a lock-down defender, he will make it challenging for UNC head coach Roy Williams to keep him on the bench.
It is very possible that Paige and Britt could play some in the same lineup. Because the Heels look to push the tempo and run as much as possible, it would not hurt to deploy both of these talented backcourt players at the same time.
Syracuse’s Tyler Roberson will be an excellent addition to the Orange’s 2013-14 squad.
His length and athleticism make him a custom fit for the ‘Cuse’s acclaimed 2-3 zone defense. Deflections, steals and blocks are all regular results of Roberson’s defensive effort.
Head coach Jim Boeheim is looking for offensive output. C.J. Fair is the only player on this upcoming team who scored more than 5.1 points per game last season. This is good news for Roberson.
He is most effective in the mid-range and heading toward the basket. He attacks the rim, but he also has no trouble knocking down jumpers.
With Boeheim’s frontcourt position flexibility, Roberson should immediately find minutes and opportunities.
Maryland will have no trouble finding a place for Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz.
The 6’9”, 235-pound PF had a solid freshman year for the Wolverines, averaging 7.7 points and 4.9 rebounds while playing 21.1 minutes per game.
One of the distinctive features of Smotrycz’s game is his ability to stick shots from beyond the arc (43.5 percent). He should immediately help the Terrapins here.
As a team in 2012-13, Maryland hit 33.9 percent from downtown. Smotrycz’s ability to pick-and-pop will give head coach Mark Turgeon another offensive weapon to deploy.
ESPN’s Michael Rothstein stated at the time of Smotrycz’s transfer that “Part of what sold him was the chance to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference.” Ooops! I wonder how happy the PF from Reading, MA was when he heard that Maryland was switching conferences to play in the Big Ten.
Few teams in the nation lost as much of their core production than North Carolina State. Eighty percent of their scoring and seventy-seven percent of their rebounding from last year’s team went bye-bye.
At 6’6” and 205 pounds, Turner gives Gottfried nice size and some scoring punch at the SG position. He averaged 12.3 points as a freshmen and 9.1 points as a sophomore.
While he may not have the long-range shooting touch of Scott Wood, Turner will bring a more well-rounded versatility to the NC State lineup.
Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson blends three of the qualities that college basketball coaches treasure most: talent, decisiveness and hard work.
Though the Fighting Irish return a skilled, veteran backcourt (Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins), Jackson will still play a significant role for head coach Mike Brey as ND ventures out of the Big East and into the ACC.
The 6’1” PG is an elite-level playmaker and penetrator who has no trouble getting to the rim or pulling up for a mid-range jumper.
Some players require an adjustment period moving from one level to the next. Jackson is ready to step in and contribute from Day One.
North Carolina State’s Anthony Barber will have a wide open opportunity from the start of his collegiate career. With the Wolfpack’s roster almost completely turning over, head coach Mark Gottfried will rely on Barber and the rest of the impressive recruiting class of 2013 to keep things going in Raleigh.
Barber is an explosive PG who blows past nearly everyone who tries to play up on him. At 6’2", he uses his length to create upgraded passing angles and defensive distress for his opponents.
The McDonald’s All-American from Hampton, VA has some big shoes to fill, following behind Lorenzo Brown. But, Barber has the kind of game that could help the Pack’s followers move on quickly to the next era in NC State basketball.
Even though Syracuse will have one of the best frontcourts in college basketball in 2013-14, they will still need someone to run the show. Tyler Ennis is that someone.
The 6’2” Canadian PG is an excellent playmaker who will shine as he takes over for Michael Carter-Williams. While Ennis doesn’t have MCW’s length, he will drive his ACC opponents crazy with his ability to drive and dish.
Ennis demonstrated his versatility in this year’s Jordan Brand Classic when he went for 14 points, five rebounds, six assists and four steals.
It’s not a bad thing to be an incoming freshman PG who Carmelo Anthony endorses.
Hood came to Durham after playing his freshman year at Mississippi State, where he averaged 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds on his way to being named to the 2012 SEC All-Freshmen team.
The long (6’8”) lefty will help Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski have a legitimate SF who can score from inside, mid-range and from beyond the arc.
Hood’s upside is boundless and his full recovery will be critical to Duke’s overall success in 2013-14.
Duke’s Jabari Parker is one of the most recognized recruits in the last several years. Sports Illustrated’s Jeff Bendict declared that Parker, while he was a junior, was “the best high school player since LeBron James.”
Parker is a versatile frontcourt phenom who can step out to knock down shots from beyond the arc. His ball-handling skills exceed nearly every other current college player his size. Parker can clear the boards on both ends of the court.
Even though he has the skills to put up points in bunches, Parker has the ability to impact games in so many other ways than just scoring. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman said (subscription required):
Mike Krzyzewski will expect Parker to do a little -- no, make that a lot -- of everything this season for Duke. And the skilled 6-foot-8 forward will be up to the task.
He gives the Blue Devils a genuine chance at making a run to the Final Four at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.