With all the Andrew Wiggins-to-Kansas hoopla finally bringing the 2013 recruiting class to a close, there’s no time better than now to look at which freshmen will make an impact in the ACC next year. Note that these are just a few of the players who I feel are certain to make significant impacts on their team; I left out guys like Nate Britt, who could easily become a force next year with minutes, but may not get them.
(All rankings are based on ESPN..I know)
PG Tyler Ennis 6’2, 180 lbs #5PG, #20th Nationally
F Tyler Roberson 6’7, 200 lbs. #10 PF, #31st Nationally
Syracuse first go-round in the ACC is probably going to be a pretty good one, even if they’re rebuilding; they rebuild every year and are typically just as good. ‘Cuse has a top ten recruiting class entering due in large part to the two Tyler’s.
Tyler Ennis, a 6’2 point guard at St. Benedict’s Prep and the #5 PG in the country, is expected to come in right away and replace Michael Carter-Williams production. Ennis is much more of a scorer than Carter-Williams (he has a gorgeous runner), but make no mistake: he is a floor general first and foremost. Ennis picks and chooses his spots, and has more than enough speed to get around his opponents.
Ennis took a top twenty player and Washington commit, Nigel Williams-Goss, to task during the NHSI semifinals for 19 points. He also outperformed other notable ACC guard in UNC commit Kenny Britt, though not directly. While he does need to work a bit on his three point shooting and on-ball defense (though he has quick hands), Ennis is probably going to give anyone in the ACC some real issues with guarding him.
Meanwhile, Tyler Roberson is a 6-8, 200 lb forward who was rated as the best player in New Jersey (and 31st nationally) coming out of high school. Roberson is a prototypical Boeheim player: long, athletic, great at rebounding, even better in the open floor.
His game has come a long way since he first came onto coaches radars as a sophomore, and now he’s way more than a pure post player. Roberson can pass, score from three, ball-handle, and score loads of points in transition. He’s as versatile as they come, and even though Ennis is the centerpiece of this recruiting class, Roberson is more likely to wow people the most of everyone.
These two are going to catch the ACC by surprise.
Isaiah Hicks, 6’8 210 lbs. #8 PF, #18th Nationally
Hicks comes into UNC like most players that come into UNC — with a boatload of accolades to his name. 2012-2013 Gatorade North Carolina Player of the Year, McDonald’s All-American, North Carolina 3A championship (a game in which he grabbed 30 rebounds and blocked 7 shots to win). Hicks is a big man lots of teams do not want to play against.
He shot 41% from three point range last year, but he’s still a bit raw on the offensive end. He mostly makes his presence felt is by his explosive leaping ability and physical tools (his wingspan in 6’11). Seeing as Roy Williams loves to get out and run, Hicks should have absolutely no problem scoring a bunch of transition buckets by slamming it down easy.
Hicks is still pretty lanky, so he does have to add muscle at some point in the future, but if we’re talking ACC impact freshmen, he will certainly be one of them.
Jabari Parker, 6’8, 220 lbs. #2 SF, #2nd Nationally
Duke has the next best thing after Andrew Wiggins heading into their program in Jabari Parker, the 6’8ish big man who can play both small forward and power forward. Parker was a McDonald’s All-American, sure, but he’s a whole lot more than that. ESPN gave him the National Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior of the Year award. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012, a First team All-American, the Jordan Brand Classic MVP, whatever. Everything a high school player could accomplish, he pretty much did.
Oh and he already has two FIBA Gold Medals for the United States from 2011 and 2012.
Unfortunately, a foot injury his senior year made him gain a bunch of weight, but that really doesn’t matter much to his game. Parker is an outstanding shooter, and possesses a pretty mean turnaround J. He also has an incredibly high basketball IQ — one of the best of any player to come out, ever. Parker has no problem making the extra pass throughout a game, and doesn’t really force anything.
He does have weight issues, and he’s not particularly quick or incredibly strong, so he will struggle against more athletic wings. But the reality is that if Parker didn’t get a foot injury his senior year, he may very well be considered a better prospect than Wiggins.
Expect him to come to Duke, start right away, and completely dominate the ACC.
Anthony Barber, 6’2, 175 lbs #7 PG, 26th Nationally
Anthony Barber/Ty Lawson was a real catch for NC State this year, and the speedster is going to get handed the keys to the Wolfpack straight away. Barber isn’t an incredibly good shooter, and doesn’t have great mechanics, but not much of that is going to matter.
Barber is almost unguardable off the dribble, with the ability to go left, right, or straight ahead and finish at the rim all the time. He creates for others with that speed, with most of his playmaking resulting from kickouts. He’s a big enough guard that he can defend well against others, and isn’t one to get blown past too often.
While he does have to work on half-court playmaking ability, and his weight isn’t prototypical, at the college level he’s going to do pretty well. Plus, NC State needs a point guard, so he’ll be getting a lot of minutes very early in his career.
Mike Young, 6’8, 210 lbs #15 PF, 57th Nationally
Mike Young is another guy I got to see play at NHSI this year, where he teamed up with Tyler Ennis on St. Benedict’s Prep to get to the National Championship game and dropped 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting and collected 11 rebounds.. If you asked just last year about Mike Young, you’d have heard that he was a player who banged down low a bunch but wasn’t big enough to do it and wasn’t versatile enough to be considered a big time recruit.
Flash forward to this year, and Young is a serious blue-chip prospect who is still growing. Young still makes his living in the paint, but he’s more than capable of stepping out and hitting a jumper. Young doesn’t get a ton of opportunities, so he sort of just creates his own within the flow of a game. He’s a tremendous rebounder, and he’s going to give opposing, slightly larger, power forwards trouble because of his quickness.
Given that Pitt is losing all three of their centers from last year, you can fully expect that Young will be thrown into the mix really quickly and asked to produce right away. I happen to think he can.
Demetrius Jackson, 6’1, 170 lbs #6 PG, #24th nationally
The McDonald’s All-American point guard from Mishawaka, Indiana made a name for himself last year on the AAU circuit, and started picking up offers left and right from B1G schools like Ohio State and Indiana among others. Jackson is an athlete, first and foremost, but he’s developed into a very good floor manager as of his senior year.
He also has one of the more interesting stories of any player coming into college. Prior to being a superstar point guard, he was a troublemaker who was basically living on his own at age 12. Then, he was placed into foster care and eventually adopted into one of his teammates’ family. From there, he was enrolled into a Catholic school and credits it with having turned his life around entirely.
Anyway, Jackson is a great scorer, racking up 1,398 career points in high school, and has significantly developed his long range shot to the point where you have to guard him from there. He’s of a similar mold to Anthony Barber in both size and playing style, although he does have very good vision in transition and is more of a playmaker.
Jackson should see significant minutes at Notre Dame, and will fare just fine against the top-tier athletes in the ACC.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes, 6’3, 180 lbs. #8 SG, #44 Nationally
Rathan-Mayes played over at Huntington Prep, and should be an incredibly good scoring replacement for Florida State as they lose Michael Snaer. Rathan-Mayes is notable for being the guy who recently dropped 55 points earlier this year (to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists), and can shoot light’s out with his quick release.
Mayes played alongside Andrew Wiggins and was probably hoping to do the same at Florida State, but he should be just fine on his own. He is a combo guard, being slightly too small to be a shooting guard but not a great enough ball handler to be a point guard, meaning he’s going to start at the point for Florida State. He can create his own shot, and is going to be getting plenty of them alongside Okaro White.
Given the amount of minutes the Canadian was probably promised by Florida State, expect him to come in right away and stuff the stat sheet.
Roddy Peters, 6’4, 180 lbs. #12 PG, 52nd Nationally
Even though Peters missed his senior year due to injury, you can expect him to come in and be a force right away. I won’t write too much about Roddy as so much has already been said about him by this blog and countless others.
The bottom line is this: Maryland has a need at point guard, and Roddy Peters fills it. They also have weapons on the offensive end that Peters will be able to make the most out of with his ability to work the ball around. He’s a great finisher at the rim, a good shooter, and a willing defender. All those things equate to a player who may not be a star from day one, but someone who is going to make a significant impact. Especially for the Terps.