Comings and Goings: Overviewing Changes in the ACC

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11: Michael Snaer #21 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates after their 85-82 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Final Game of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Philips Arena on March 11, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Long-time readers may remember that a few years ago, we did an overview of changes in the ACC, looking at how much production each team was losing and what their incoming class looked like, aptly titled Comings and Goings. After looking over the vast number of the changes happening this year, it seemed like a good idea to revive the idea for this offseasonseason.

And make no mistake: a lot of changes are coming. Each of last season's top four teams will look vastly different next year, while a few other teams - like N.C. State, Miami, and to a lesser extent Maryland and Georgia Tech - return enough to make a run up the standings.

To start with, let's get a basic idea of what each team loses. This is the percentage of pooled minutes, points, rebounds, and assists each team has leaving, whether through graduation, transfers, or the draft (click to enlarge):

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Poor, poor Carolina and FSU. For the visual learner, similar graphs are available for points (look at the jump for UVA), rebounds, assists (ouch, UNC), steals, blocks, and three-pointers (ha, Clemson).

Overarching theme amongst these? UNC, FSU, and Wake Forest are almost always at the top; Miami, Georgia Tech, and Boston College are almost always at the bottom. Good news for the latter three; bad news for the first two, and just plain sadistic for Wake Forest fans. That bad and losing a bunch? I guess the good news is that, y'know, you went 4-12 with those players. Guess losing them doesn't hurt that badly.

But graphs alone, while shiny, don't provide much context. Only a single spot is separating State and Virginia in total production lost, so why are people so much more bullish about the Wuffies than the Cavs? Maryland and Duke lose almost the exact same amount of production, so why are people expecting Maryland to get better and Duke to get worse? And why is UNC likely going to be just fine despite losing three-fourths of the team, while FSU might well be done?

And yes, I'm fully aware the answers to those questions are obvious, for the most part.

Anyway, point is, you can't rely on graphs. Which is why below you'll find a team-by-team capsule, showing who's leaving, who's coming back, who's being added, and what it all means for them next year.

Boston College Eagles: losing 24% of minutes, 22% of points, 17% of rebounds, 24% of assists, 31% of steals, 16% of blocks, 30% of three-pointers

Last Year: 9-22, 4-12 in ACC
Departures: second-leading scorer Matt Humphrey, reserve guard Gabe Moton (both transfer)
Key Returnees: sophomore forward Ryan Anderson (11.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg), sophomore center Dennis Clifford (8.9, 4.7), sophomore guard Patrick Heckmann (8.3), sophomore guard Lonnie Jackson (8.3), sophomore guard Jordan Daniels (6.4)
Additions: Olivier Hanlan, 6-3 three-star PG; Joe Rahon, 6-1 three-star SG (finalist for Iona transfer Kyle Smyth)
Potential Lineup: Jordan Daniels (5-9 so.) / Lonnie Jackson (6-3 so.) / Patrick Heckmann (6-5 so.) / Ryan Anderson (6-8 so.) / Dennis Clifford (7-0 so.)
Total Recruiting Stars: 25 (12th in the ACC)
Average Experience: 1.78 years (11th in ACC)
Summary: BC was in line to return everyone from last year's team, but that plan changed when both Humphrey and Moton, the only scholarship players on the roster not recruited by Steve Donahue, decided to leave. That hurts, pretty badly - neither Humphrey nor Moton were great, but they were the only veteran presence on an otherwise young team. Without them, more or less the entire team will be sophomores and freshmen yet again. They saw how that worked out last year, when they were one of the least-experienced high majors in the country and, unsurprisingly, the worst team in the conferece.

The good news: they should be better this year. I don't know if I actually like the roster more outside of the addition of Hanlan, but Steve Donahue has made a living out of doing a lot with a little. He clearly wanted to get "his guys" in the program ASAP and was able to do so, and the more time he has with them the better they should do. The NIT will be a bridge too far for next year's team, but they could be able to stick around the lower middle of the pack, which is a nice step up from the basement.

Clemson Tigers: losing 46% of minutes, 48% of points, 37% of rebounds, 63% of assists, 54% of steals, 33% of blocks, 65% of three-pointers

Last Year: 16-15, 8-8 in ACC
Losing: top two scorers, Andre Young and Tanner Smith; 7-foot Romanian role player Catalin Baciu; begoggled glue guy Bryan Narcisse
Key Returnees: senior center Devin Booker (10.5, 7.0), senior forward Milton Jennings (9.7, 5.6), sophomore guards K.J. McDaniels (3.9), Rod Hall (3.8), and T.J. Sapp (3.6)
Additions: Jaron Blossomgame, 6-7 three-star SF; Landry Nnoko, 6-11 three-star C; Adonis Filer, 6-2 three-star PG; Jordan Roper, 6-0 three-star PG; Josh Smith, 6-8 three-star PF
Potential Lineup: Rod Hall (6-1 so.) / T.J. Sapp (6-2 so.) / K.J. McDaniels (6-6 so.) / Milton Jennings (6-9 sr.) / Devin Booker (6-8 sr.)
Total Recruiting Stars: 40 (t-3rd in ACC)
Average Experience: 1.92 (8th in ACC)
Summary: I thought Clemson and Brad Brownell had to make the NCAAs last year, because they were losing quite a bit. They couldn't sneak into the tourney, and as expected they lost a lot, including the team's two best and most productive players in Young and Smith. Those two formed the core of the Tigers' backcourt and spearheaded their pressure defense; life without them won't be fun. Their replacements are inexperienced and unproven guards, so the focus for next year's team will have to turn toward the post, with former McDonald's All-American Jennings and the productive Booker returning. That's one of the conference's better post pairings, and you can expect the Tigers will look to exploit it. Brownell also has one of the deepest teams in the conference, with multiple three-star types at every position down the roster. That said, this team wasn't too great last year, was hit hard by graduation, and they don't have a great incoming class. NIT is probably the sweet spot here.

Duke Blue Devils: losing 28% of minutes, 30% of points, 30% of rebounds, 22% of assists, 26% of steals, 25% of blocks, 23% of three-pointers

Last Year: 27-6, 13-3 in ACC; first round of NCAAT
Losing: chucker combo guard Austin Rivers (pro); underutilized swingman Michael Gbinije (transfer); awful, awful Miles Plumlee
Key Returnees: senior combo Seth Curry (13.2), senior forward Ryan Kelly (11.8), senior center Mason Plumlee (11.1, 9.2), senior guard Andre Dawkins (8.4), point guards Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton
Additions: Rasheed Sulaimon, 6-3 five-star SG; redshirt freshmen Alex Murphy, 6-8 four-star SF (2011) and Marshall Plumlee, 6-11 four-star C (2011) (finalist for Amile Jefferson)
Potential Lineup: Tyler Thornton (6-1 jr.) / Seth Curry (6-2 sr.) / Andre Dawkins (6-4 sr.) / Ryan Kelly (6-11 sr.) / Miles Plumlee (6-10 sr.)
Total Recruiting Stars: 41 (2nd in ACC)
Average Experience: 2.70 (2nd in ACC)
Summary: Duke had to overachieve a bit last year, lacking vintage Duke talent; the same will likely be true for next year's team. Miles Plumlee and Gbinije were bit pieces, but Rivers is a huge loss given how so much of the team was built around him. They might lose about the same as Maryland, but whereas Maryland's production came from the margins and should be easily replaceable, Duke is losing its from the team's centerpiece, and that's worrisome. Curry, Kelly, and Mason Plumlee are all nice, but none are talismans the way Rivers was; nor are Sulaimon, Murphy, or even Jefferson if they can land him. You have to wonder who's going to be the one to take up that standard, if anyone on the roster is really capable of it to begin with.

On the bright side, they'll be one of the most experienced teams in the conference: there's a chance their starting five includes four seniors and a junior. That may not happen with Dawkins potentially redshirting and Quinn Cook a possible starter at the point, but there's still going to be an absolute minimum of three seniors in the starting five - that's big, especially when it's Coach K sitting on the bench. Getting one of them to step up and be a centerpiece, like so often happens with Duke, would be a huge development that could make them one of the ACC's more dangerous teams. If they can't, they're merely a team of "good pieces." They'll be well-coached, dangerous, and in the conference's upper tier, but you'd think it'd be tough to put up a conference title challenge without a star in there somewhere.

Florida St. Seminoles: losing 61% of minutes, 56% of points, 63% of rebounds, 72% of assists, 63% of steals, 87% of blocks, 45% of three-pointers

Last Year: 24-9, 12-4 in ACC; second round of NCAAT
Losing: *deep breath* block maestro Bernard James, point guard Luke Loucks, sharpshooter Deividas Dulkys, reserve forwards Xavier Gibson and Jon Kreft, reserve guard Jeff Peterson, and talented youngster Antwan Space (transfer)
Key Returnees: senior guard Michael Snaer (14.0), junior guard Ian Miller (10.3), junior forward Terrance Shannon (return from injury), junior forward Okaro White (7.7, 4.4)
Additions: Montay Brandon, 6-6 four-star G; Aaron Thomas, 6-5 four-star SG; Devin Bookert, 6-2 three-star PG; Boris Bojanovsky, 7-3 three-star C; Robert Gilchrist, 6-9 three-star PF
Potential Lineup: Ian Miller (6-3 jr.) / Michael Snaer (6-5 sr.) / Montay Brandon (6-6 fr.) / Terrance Shannon (6-8 jr.) / Okaro White (6-8 jr.)
Total Recruiting Stars: 40 (t-3rd in ACC)
Average Experience: 1.91 (9th in ACC)
Summary: A lot of people saw the damage FSU caused last year and started to talk about how the Seminoles are one of the ACC's "ascendent" programs, a team that, along with N.C. State, is going to fuel the re-emergence of the ACC and challenge powerhouses UNC and Duke each year. That seems ... premature. No one except UNC loses as much as FSU does, and FSU's bench ain't exactly up to UNC standards. So much of their success was built around defense, and losing James is a borderline critical blow there (they're losing almost 90% of their blocks!). Meanwhile, the loss of Loucks and Dulkys will further limit their already-limited offense.

The light came on for Snaer last season, and his return was big; similarly, Miller has a lot of talent and should be able to fill in at the point well. But last year's team was the conference's most experienced with as much talent as anyone outside of Tobacco Road. This year? They'll be relying on unproven guys, and not five-stars. This season will be the real test for FSU's longevity as a top-tier ACC basketball program. They should be an NCAA tournament team - Snaer and Miller is a good enough backcourt duo to pull that - but if they get anything more, it'll be a big statement from Leonard Hamilton.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: losing 23% of minutes, 21% of scoring, 23% of rebounds, 25% of assists, 30% of steals, 24% of blocks, 29% of three-pointers

Last Year: 11-20, 4-12 in ACC
Losing: guard role players Pierre Jordan and Nick Foreman, star swingman Glen Rice Jr., reserve forward Nate Hicks
Key Returnees: senior point guard Mfon Udofia (9.9), junior forward Kammeon Holsey (9.4, 4.9), junior center Daniel Miller (8.1, 6.5), junior wing Jason Morris (7.8), junior guard Brandon Reed (7.5), sophomore wing Julian Royal (4.4)
Additions: Robert Carter, 6-8 four-star PF; Marcus Hunt, 6-6 four-star SF; Chris Bolden, 6-3 three-star SG; Corey Heyward, 6-0 two-star PG
Potential Lineup: Mfon Udofia (6-2 sr.) / Brandon Reed (6-3 jr.) / Jason Morris (6-5 jr.) / Kammeon Holsey (6-8 jr.) / Daniel Miller (6-11 jr.)
Total Recruiting Stars: 36 (t-8th in ACC)
Average Experience: 2.20 (t-4th in ACC)
Summary: Jeff Bzdelik is the poster child for failed ACC coaches, but I had my doubts about Brian Gregory, who was just as uninspiring of a hire. He had a rough opening season, but landing the commitment of local star forward Robert Carter was a major achievement and should soothe some souls in Atlanta. The Jackets do lose their best player in Rice, but they return almost everyone else of note and receive major reinforcements in the form of Carter and Hunt.

If you take a hard look at the roster, there's some serious talent here - Udofia, Holsey, Morris, Royal, Hunt, and Carter are all four-star, top-100 types - and the core of the team has some good experience. Another bonus: they'll be moving back into their own arena, instead of playing home games in the Phillips Arena. And only Miami loses less production. Even though Rice Jr. was the crux of the team, they played (and won) enough without him that the transition should be easy. The question is Gregory: last year's team shouldn't have been 4-12 bad, and remember that he made the NCAAs only twice at Dayton. I have my doubts about him, but if he can get this bunch to gel there's some pretty major surprise potential.

Maryland Terrapins: losing 31% of minutes, 24% of scoring, 27% of rebounds, 32% of assists, 40% of steals, 35% of blocks, 25% of three-pointers

Last Year: 17-15, 6-10 in ACC
Losing: glue guy Sean Mosley, role player Berend Weijs, pogo stick Mychal Parker (transfer)
Key Returnees: conference scoring champion Terrell Stoglin (21.6), promising youngster Nick Faust (8.8), power forward James Padgett (8.8, 5.8), point guard Pe'Shon Howard (back from injury), potential-laden Alex Len (6.0, 5.4), reserve forward Ashton Pankey (4.7, 4.9)
Additions: Shaquille Cleare, 6-9 four-star C; Jake Layman, 6-8 four-star SF; Charles Mitchell, 6-7 three-star C; Sam Cassell Jr., 6-4 three-star SG; Seth Allen, 6-1 three-star PG; Damonte Dodd, 6-9 three-star PF
Potential Lineup: Pe`Shon Howard (6-3 jr.) / Terrell Stoglin (6-1 jr.) / Nick Faust (6-5 so.) / James Padgett (6-8 sr.) / Alex Len (7-1 so.)
Total Recruiting Stars: 39 (5th in ACC)
Average Experience: 1.81 (10th in ACC)
Summary: The numbers look alright for Maryland to begin with, and remember that they're skewed by the loss of 28 games of production between Howard and Len. Mosley is a significant loss that's being overlooked by many, but no team in the conference is seeing as dramatic a roster overhaul as the Terrapins, who will go from one of the thinnest teams in the conference to one of the deepest and most talented. Inexperience will be an issue again next year with so many freshmen likely to be regular contributors, but there's something to be said for big contributors like Stoglin, Len, and Faust all being a year older and wiser. And given that most of the production lost came from fringe players, their replacements aren't likely to do much worse and may in fact do better (Cleare > Weijs).

To be completely honest, Maryland overachieved last year; hopefully that's an indication of Turgeon's coaching ability, not a blip. If that's indeed the case, and the freshmen turn out as expected, Maryland should be in the upper-middle part of the conference next year and a likely NCAA tournament team.

Miami Hurricanes: losing 19% of minutes, 20% of points, 13% of rebounds, 18% of assists, 17% of steals, 9% of blocks, 28% of three-pointers

Last Year: 19-12, 9-7 in ACC; second round of NIT
Losing: sharpshooting guard Malcolm Grant; the unfulfilled promise that was DeQuan Jones
Key Returnees: senior guard Durand Scott (12.9, 5.4), senior center Reggie Johnson (10.0, 7.2), junior forward Kenny Kadji (11.7, 5.3), senior wing Trey McKinney-Jones (7.0, 3.5), sophomore point guard Shane Larkin (7.4), junior wing Rion Brown (7.2)
Additions: Melvin Johnson, 6-3 four-star shooting guard; Tonye Jekiri, 6-10 three-star center
Potential Lineup: Shane Larkin (5-11 so.) / Durand Scott (6-5 sr.) / Trey McKinney-Jones (6-5 sr.) / Kenny Kadji (6-11 jr.) / Reggie Johnson (6-10 sr.)
Total Recruiting Stars: 38 (6th in ACC)
Average Experience: 2.83 (1st in ACC)
Summary: If any team qualifies as a sleeper to make noise in the ACC, it's Miami. Jim Larranagga was only okay in his first year in Coral Gables, but his coaching ability is unquestioned. The more important thing is that he has quite the roster to work with: the Hurricanes have a good amount of top-level talent and more experience than anyone else in the conference. Miami basketball has historically been a bit boring - even Captain Jack McClinton wasn't able to make it exciting, not really - but this team has very few holes and pretty huge potential. The potential isn't new to Miami, I guess; Scott and Johnson have always been a little inconsistent, which could be their downfall again in the end. If Larranagga can work some magic, though, there might actually some excitement about the round ball down there. This should easily be an NCAA tournament team, and if enough goes right they might cause some discomfort at the top of the conference. Have to wonder if they could be a poor man's FSU this season.

North Carolina Tar Heels: losing 68% of minutes, 71% of scoring, 64% of rebounds, 81% of assists, 63% of steals, 83% of blocks, 45% of three-pointers

Last Year: 29-5, 14-2 in ACC; Final Four in NCAAT
Losing: *deep breath* forwards Tyler Zeller and Jon Henson (pro), point guards Kendall Marshall (pro) and Stillman White (Morman mission), wing Harrison Barnes (pro), reserve guard Justin Watts
Key Returnees: potential star forward James Michael McAdoo (6.1, 3.9), wings P.J. Hairston (5.7) and Reggie Bullock (8.8), guards Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald (return from injury)
Additions: Marcus Paige, 6-0 four-star PG; Brice Johnson, 6-9 four-star PF; Joel James, 6-10 four-star C; J.P. Tokoto, 6-6 four-star SF
Potential Lineup: Marcus Paige (6-0 fr.) / Dexter Strickland (6-3 sr.) / Reggie Bullock (6-7 jr.) / James Michael McAdoo (6-9 so.) / Joel James (6-10 fr.)
Total Recruiting Stars: 45 (1st in ACC)
Average Experience: 2.00 (t-6th in ACC)
Summary: If it weren't for an unusual rash of injuries, it would've been pretty easy to conclude that UNC's roster last season was the best in college basketball. Next year, while they'll still have talent, they won't have near the balance or strength as 2011's squad. Yes, talent is still there in bunches, with a host of McDonald's All-Americans led by McAdoo, a potential game-changer at the 4. And as far as raw number of "stars" go, UNC still leads the conference by a comfortable margin. Despite that, though, it's tough to see the same level of dominance exhibited last year. No team can lose as much as Carolina without did without suffering, especially without a dominant recruiting class. And Carolina's recruiting class is far from dominant, with nary a consensus top-25 prospect and only two in the top-50.

The issues are obvious. Zeller and Henson were game-changers offensively and defensively, and no ready replacement exists for either of them. (McAdoo is a different type of player.) Marshall was the best point guard in college basketball; his replacement is the fourth-best point guard in a class weak in point guards. And who, for goodness sake, will play center? UNC, which is so used to dominant post players, lacks a true 5. Will it be Desmond Hubert? Joel James, a true freshman ranked in the 50s or 60s? None of this is to say that UNC won't be very good. As far as wings go, Carolina has probably the best group in the conference. But they don't have a proven point guard and they don't have dominant interior play. There are very obvious flaws here. They'll be able to simply outclass a lot of the teams they run into, but when McAdoo and the wings aren't easily the best players on the floor, they'll run into trouble. If the Heels top the ACC again, I'll be forced to eat some pretty major crow about Ol' Roy.

N.C. State Wolfpack: losing 35% of minutes, 29% of scoring, 27% of rebounds, 32% of assists, 32% of steals, 23% of blocks, 32% of three-pointers

Last Year: 22-12, 9-7 in ACC; Sweet Sixteen in NCAAT
Losing: productive wing C.J. Williams, reserve point guard Alex Johnson, reserve big man DeShawn Painter
Key Returnees: star forward C.J. Leslie (14.7, 7.3), underrated* guard Lorenzo Brown (12.7, 4.5, 6.3), sharpshooter Scott Wood (12.4), garbageman Richard Howell (10.8, 9.2)
Additions: Rodney Purvis, 6-4 five-star SG; T.J. Warren, 6-7 four-star SF; Tyler Lewis, 5-11 four-star PG (finalist for Amile Jefferson)
Potential Lineup: Lorenzo Brown (6-5 jr.) / Rodney Purvis (6-4 fr.) / Scott Wood (6-6 sr.) / C.J. Leslie (6-8 jr.) / Richard Howell (6-8 sr.)
Total Recruiting Stars: 37 (7th in ACC)
Average Experience: 2.45 (3rd in ACC)
Summary: State's current situation reminds me a bit of the rich man's version of where Maryland is, with the departing Williams playing Mosley and Painter as a version of Parker. The key differences: State has talent where Maryland has depth, and State has experience where Maryland has ... coaching? We can still claim superiority on that, right? Eh, whatever: the Wuffies have a roster worthy of envy, with C.J. Leslie as a now-kinda-mature junior and Lo Brown developing into a dominant point guard. With Wood and Howell as wily seniors who know their roles and play them well and a nice cast of newcomers to boot, it's not hard to see this collection of players seriously challenging for an ACC title.

I've been critical of that line of thought, I know, largely because I don't put as much stock in tournament runs as seemingly everyone else, but it's difficult to poke holes in this team if Gottfried proves competent over an entire season. The one issue may very well be depth: Leslie and Howell like fouling, and Painter was the only quality reserve big man on the bench last year. Without him, State's primary big man reserve will be ... Jordan Vandenberg. Oh, and Thomas de Thaey will log some minutes, too. And at some point they'll be forced to play someone who isn't a true post player in the post. That's going to be what other teams have to look to exploit. Teams like Duke and Maryland may just have the frontcourt for it, but UNC and FSU might not this year. And that might be just enough for the Pack.

Virginia Cavaliers: losing 40% of minutes, 49% of scoring, 44% of rebounds, 35% of assists, 39% of steals, 42% of blocks, 45% of three-pointers

Last Year: 22-9, 9-7 in ACC; first round in NCAAT
Losing: all-everything Mike Scott, sixth man Sammy Zeglinski, largely invisible Assane Sene, young guns K.T. Harrell and James Johnson (transfer)
Key Returnees: junior guard Joe Harris (11.3), senior point guard Jontel Evans (7.3), sophomore wing Malcolm Brogdon (6.7), sophomore guard Paul Jesperson (1.5), reserve forwards Darion Atkins (2.3) and Akil Mitchell (4.1)
Additions: Justin Anderson, 6-6 four-star SF; Evan Nolte, 6-8 four-star SF; Mike Tobey, 6-10 four-star center; Teven Jones, 6-1 four-star PG
Potential Lineup: Jontel Evans (5-11 sr.) / Joe Harris (6-6 jr.) / Evan Nolte (6-8 fr.) / Akil Mitchell (6-8 jr.) / Mike Tobey (6-10 fr.)
Total Recruiting Stars: 34 (t-10th in ACC)
Average Experience: 2.00 (t-6th in ACC)
Summary: Finding some way to replace Mike Scott is probably the greatest and most interesting challenge faced by any coach in the ACC this season. No team leaned on a single player as heavily as Virginia leaned on Scott, save perhaps Maryland with Stoglin. Only FSU and UNC lose more scoring, and both of those teams A) were substantially better last year to begin with, and B) have better supporting casts to absorb that production. The good news for UVA is that they already play a system designed to compensate for lack of talent, so there's no adjustment needed. They'll probably do what they've always done: play stifling, slow, and boring (if effective) basketball, only this time there's no Mike Scott to hit fadeaway jumper after fadeaway jumper. (No, I'm not bitter.) That style should limit their fall, but unless Joe Harris can take a pretty huge step in production, I'm not really expecting the postseason.

Yeah, I said it.

Virginia Tech Hokies: 25% of minutes, 28% of scoring, 19% of rebounds, 20% of assists, 19% of steals, 17% of blocks, 18% of three-pointers

Last Year: 16-17, 4-12 in ACC
Losing: productive but oft-injured Dorenzo Hudson, forward Victor Davila, young point guard Tyrone Garland (transfer) ... for now
Key Returnees: junior guard and enemy of all good in the world, Erick Green (15.6), junior sharpshooter Jarrell Eddie (8.1), sophomore wing Robert Brown (6.8), promising sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith (6.3), junior center Cadarian Raines (5.9)
Additions: Montrezl Harrell, 6-7 four-star PF; Marshall Wood, 6-8 three-star SF ... for now
Potential Lineup: Erick Green (6-3 jr.) / Robert Brown (6-5 so.) / Jarrell Eddie (6-7 jr.) / Dorian Finney-Smith (6-8 so.) / Cadarian Raines (6-9 jr.)
Total Recruiting Stars: 34 (t-10th in ACC)
Average Experience: 2.20 (t-4th in ACC)
Summary: Goddamn if I don't feel bad for Seth Greenberg. I was never a fan of him in Blacksburg, but he was a nice guy who deserved better than he got, after building that program from rubble into (somewhat) relevance. And hey, they might've been on kind of on the cusp of the tournament. Sounds strange to say after a 4-12 year, but remember that VT was only a game worse than Maryland overall despite a tougher schedule. Of their 12 conference losses, nine were by single digits. Six were within a single basket. That's six shots from being 10-6 instead of 4-12. Over the course of a year, what are six shots? (Of course, you can play the other side: all four wins were by a single shot, too. So, uh, they were even fewer shots away from going 0-16.)

But that's the business, of course, so never mind that last year's team wasn't as awful as the record indicates and that the returning core of Green and DFS was quite strong, with a potential difference-maker in Harrell on the way. Gotta keep improving, and apparently goofily-happy Jim Weaver decided that "nine years of 'about to make the next step'" actually means "not really going to make the next step" and pulled the plug before further stagnation. Harrell is likely a goner as a result, they'll probably be stuck with some retread like Bobby Lutz or Jeff Jones, and who knows who transfers out or stays in? As it was, this group had potential for the NCAAs; as it is, the turmoil will probably be their undoing. That said, if whoever is hired can keep Harrell onboard and avoid losing the team through transfers, he's taking over an underrated team with some potential to make noise.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons: losing 49% of minutes, 49% of points, 47% of rebounds, 56% of assists, 46% of steals, 83% of blocks, 27% of three-pointers

Last Year: 13-18, 4-12 in ACC
Losing: eminently forgettable Nikita Mescheriakov, troublesome Ty Walker, point guard Tony Chennault (transfer), promising-but-underachieving big man Carson Desrosiers (transfer), and reserve point guard Anthony Fields (also, transfer)
Key Returnees: ultra-productive senior guard C.J. Harris (16.7), ultra-productive junior forward Travis McKie (16.1, 7.0), reserve center Daniel Green (1.4), and ... uh, that's it
Additions: *deep breath* Codi Miller-McIntyre, 6-1 four-star PG; Arnaud Adala Moto, 6-6 four-star SF; Tyler Cavanaugh, 6-8 three-star PF; Aaron Rountree, 6-7 three-star SF; Devin Thomas, 6-8 three-star PF; Andre Washington, 6-10 three-star C; Madison Jones, 6-1 three-star PG
Potential Lineup: Codi Miller-McIntyre (6-1 fr.) / C.J. Harris (6-3 sr.) / Arnaud Adala Moto (6-6 fr.) / Travis McKie (6-7 jr.) / Daniel Green (6-10 jr.)
Total Recruiting Stars: 36 (t-8th in ACC)
Average Experience: 1.64 (12th in ACC)
Summary: For real, Jeff Bzdelik? Absolute disaster of a first season, mass exodus of players, then absolute disaster of a second season, mass exodus of players ... this isn't a good survival strategy, y'know. Winston-Salem will be a lonely place next year. Not that there isn't some good stuff on this roster; Harris and McKie could find minutes on any roster in the conference, and I'm a huge fan of Miller-McIntyre. Problem is, if you're gonna build a team around three players, they better be future NBAer good, and that's just not these three. If the Deacons are lucky, guys like Adala Moto and Rountree will show up better than expected and will be able to provide some much-needed depth. But I can't see a single position that improved on last year's team. Given that last year's team was pretty awful, that's not a good sign.

The good news, Wake fans: that'd mean no more Bz!

Alright, so, with 5000 words down, here's my discussion-starting question to you: what's your much-too-early prediction for next season's ACC standings? Go.

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