ACC Tournament 2011: Ranking the Top 10 Players

John ValentovicAnalyst IMarch 8, 2011

ACC Tournament 2011: Ranking the Top 10 Players

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    The ACC has had a relatively down year this season, with only Duke and North Carolina as locks to make the NCAA tournament. 

    Clemson and Florida St. are likely in the field of 68, although they will need at least one win in the upcoming ACC tournament to feel totally secure come Selection Sunday. 

    Then there is Virginia Tech and Boston College.  Both teams are sitting squarely on the bubble and both have major work to do if they want to make the big dance.

    However, despite the down year, the ACC still has its fair share of talented players who have had very good seasons. 

    Here are the top 10 players that will be taking the court in the upcoming ACC tournament.

10. Demontez Stitt, Clemson

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    The Tigers are likely headed back to the NCAA tournament, and a large part of the credit should go to Stitt.

    The 6'2" senior is 10th in scoring in the ACC at 14.1 points per game, but also contributes in many other aspects of the game.  He leads the Tigers in assists at 3.3 per game, and also chips in with 4.4 rebounds per game, which is very impressive considering his size and position.

    Stitt is a very quick guard who can shoot from almost anywhere on the court, and is also not afraid to get in opponents defensively.  He is also one of the more consistent players in the conference, failing to score in double figures just three times all season.

9. Jeff Allen, Virginia Tech

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    Allen is one of only two players in the ACC that averages in double figures in rebounding, with the other player being Maryland's Jordan Williams.  Allen is averaging exactly 10 rebounds per game.

    The senior can also score the basketball, averaging 13.8 points per game.  He, along with teammate Malcolm Delaney, form a very dangerous 1-2 punch.

    Allen showed that Delaney isn't the only player on the Hokies roster with the ability to take over a game.  He scored 25 points in back-to-back games in early February, and also cleaned up the glass grabbing 16.5 rebounds during those two games.

8. Tyler Zeller, North Carolina

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    Zeller has really come into his own this season and cemented himself as one of the best big men in the conference.  He has also showed why many people think he could be a NBA lottery pick in the not-so-distant future.

    The 7'0" center is averaging 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, while shooting over 54 percent from the field.  He is also one of the Tar Heels' most dependable free throw shooters.  He is shooting 74 percent from the line.

    In a win over Kentucky in December, Zeller led the Tar Heels to a 75-73 win, scoring 27 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds.  The big man hasn't looked back from there, and is a major reason why all of the sudden North Carolina is in the conversation for a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

7. Iman Shumpert, Georgia Tech

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    Shumpert combined his superior athleticism with a much improved jump shot and became one of the most dominant guards in, not only the ACC, but the whole country this season.

    He is averaging 17.5 points and 6.1 rebounds, and also leads the conference in steals at 2.7 per game.

    Shumpert has all of the physical tools to excel at the next level, but also showed he is willing to put in the work by improving as much as he did this season.

6. Jordan Williams, Maryland

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    Williams is averaging a double-double this season with 16.9 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, and has improved his post play to become one of the best post-up players in the conference.

    Although he lacks elite athletic ability, Williams is an expert at navigating the paint.  He has very good footwork and uses his strength to get where he wants.  He also has very good touch around the rim.

    Just a sophomore, Williams has time to get even better, which is a scary thought for the rest of the ACC.

5. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

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    Barnes entered his first year at Chapel Hill with very high expectations, and seemed to let the pressure get the best of him at the beginning of the season.  He got off to a slow start, including an 0-12 outing against Minnesota.

    However, Barnes has really turned it on as of late.  He has been a completely different player since conference play began, and has showed why he was named Preseason All-American.

    For the year, Barnes is averaging 14.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, and has hit several clutch shots for the Tar Heels.  He recently hit a three-pointer with three seconds left to give North Carolina a 72-70 victory over Florida St.

    Barnes continues to improve and is primed to lead his team deep into the NCAA tournament.

4. Reggie Jackson, Boston College

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    Jackson is third in the ACC in scoring at 18.3 points per game, and has led the Eagles to the brink of the NCAA Tournament.

    Perhaps what's most impressive about the junior guard is despite attempting 388 shots this season, he is still shooting 49 percent, and can also step to the line and knock down his free throws.

    Jackson can also take over a game.  In a game against Maryland in February, he carried his team to victory with 31 points as well as eight rebounds.

3. Kyle Singler, Duke

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    Singler is having another fine season for the defending champions as he and his teammates set out to defend their title.

    Singler is averaging 17.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while also leading the Blue Devils in minutes played per game at 34.6. 

    Although he has struggled shooting the ball in some games, Singler almost always finds a way to contribute.  The senior is also one of the more versatile players in the conference.  He can attack defenses off the dribble as well as step outside and knock down shots from beyond-the-arc.

2. Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech

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    The senior guard cooled off to end the regular season, but still managed to finish second in the conference in scoring at 18.8 points per game while also averaging 4.1 assists.

    Delaney is one of the more pure scorers the ACC has ever seen, and can score in a variety of different ways.  He is lethal from downtown, can create his own shot as well as get to the free throw line and connect.  For the season Delaney is shooting 86 percent from the line.

    Delaney is also a workhorse, averaging over 38 minutes played per game, and is doing everything he can to ensure that the Hokies aren't left out of the NCAA field yet again.

1. Nolan Smith, Duke

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    Smith has simply been remarkable this season.

    He leads the conference in scoring at 21.6 points per game and is second in the conference in assists at 5.2 per game.

    Smith has been the heart and soul of the defending champions, scoring in double digits in all but one game this season.  Whenever the Blue Devils need a big play, they turn to Smith and he almost always delivers.

    He has improved each of his four years at Duke and now has become one of the game's true superstars, and will look to finish his career at Duke by winning a second straight national championship.