A Sign of a Down ACC? They May Not Have a Player Drafted in the First Round

You want another sign showing the decline of ACC basketball over the past few years? How about that the ACC had just one underclassman declare (and keep his name in) for the NBA Draft this season.

That guy is J.J. Hickson, and there is even a line of reasoning that NC State may be better without him.

There really were just a few really outstanding seniors leaving (Duke lost DeMarcus Nelson; Virginia lost Sean Singletary). There is a chance where the ACC will have no players taken in the first round of the draft (Hickson is the lone hopeful).

Typically, the ACC fills the draft up with all kinds of talent.

  • Last year, three ACC players were lottery picks ... part of six total that were taken in the first round.
  • Three players went in the first round in 2006.
  • In 2005, seven players went in the first round. (five went in the lottery; three went in the top five).
  • In 2004, only Duke's Luol Deng was taken in the first round.

Remember, that was mostly when high school players also were in the draft, meaning less spots for colliegate players. So, what could the upcoming ACC season look like?

If you read articles all over the internets, you would assume that North Carolina will crush everyone on their way to a National Championship. That could happen, but that really is selling the ACC short. There are some really good teams who have high expectations as well.

Start with the Heels' rival, Duke. They'll return most of a squad that nearly won the ACC last year. Miami is loaded as well and could be a top ten team. As I said before, NC State could rectify chemistry issues now that Hickson is gone. Virginia Tech will be right there. There is a lot of talent at Florida State. Wake Forest started to turn things around last year and welcome in the late Skip Prosser's loaded 2008 class.

In fact, the ACC has done very well recruiting. According to Scout.com, Wake Forest brings in the #3 ranked recruiting class ... North Carolina is #5 ... Duke is #13 ... Florida State is #14.

The conference has done even better in 2009. Guys like John Henson (UNC), Mason Plumlee (Duke), Dexter Strickland (UNC), Milton Jennings (Clemson) and Leslie McDonald (UNC) will become household names (not to mention guys like Derrick Favors and Dante Taylor who are leaning toward ACC schools).

Nine of the top twelve scorers are returning. Five of the top seven rebounders. Seven of the top ten assist-men. Of the All-ACC teams last year (1st, 2nd and 3rd), 11 of the 15 players are coming back ... including three from the first team (Tyler Hansbrough, Tyrese Rice, Jack McClinton).

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