ACCMBB: Who’s Gone, Who’s Back and Who’s New?

Need a crash course on who left, who’s back and what new guys will lace them up in the ACC this season? We’ve got you covered.

Boston College

Last Season: 7-25 (0-18)

Key Losses: Eli Carter, Dennis Clifford, Matt Milon, Sammy Barnes-Thompkins, Idy Diallo

Key Returners: Jerome Robinson, A.J. Turner, Garland Owens, Ervins Meznieks

Newcomers: Connar Tava, Mo Jeffers, Ty Graves, Mike Sagay, Nik Popovic, Ky Bowman

Boston College comes into the 2016-17 season with a revamped team looking to build on a forgettable season. But the road this year might be just as tough as the one traveled last season, as the Eagles must replace their top two leading scorers, along with their leaders in assists, blocks, rebounds and steals.

The bright spot for the Eagles is a four-man freshman recruiting class that should help build a foundation for strong teams in years to come.

Clemson

Last Season: 17-14 (10-8)

Key Losses: Landry Nnoko, Jordan Roper

Key Returners: Jaron Blossomgame, Donte Grantham, Avry Holmes

Newcomers: Scott Spencer, Shelton Mitchell, Marcquise Reed, Elijah Thomas

Head coach Brad Brownell brings back possibly the most talent and experience in his time at Clemson. The return of Jaron Blossomgame was huge, and took the Tigers from potential rebuilders to NCAA Tournament contenders. The play of the three transfers will be key. The experienced transfer guards of Mitchell and Reed should play well alongside Blossomgame and although former top 50 recruit Elijah Thomas will only be eligible for the second half of the season, he should provide a much needed interior presence heading into conference play.

Duke

Last Season: 25-11 (11-7)

Key Losses: Brandon Ingram, Marshall Plumlee, Derryck Thornton

Key Returners: Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson, Luke Kennard, Chase Jeter

Newcomers: Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson, Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier, Jack White

Duke comes into the 2016-17 season as the overwhelming favorite to win both the ACC and national championship. Duke would have had a strong team with just it’s returning pieces, but add in one of the best recruiting classes the ACC has ever seen, and Duke has the potential to be one of the best teams the ACC has ever seen.

The key for Duke will be health and point guard play. Frank Jackson will need to transition into a distribute first point guard and freshman like Giles, Tatum and Bolden need to bounce back from injuries. If Duke stays healthy, Blue Devil faithful will have every right to be very, very confident heading into March.

Florida State

Last Season: 20-14 (8-10)

Key Losses: Malik Beasley, Boris Bojanovsky, Devon Bookert, Montay Brandon

Key Returners: Dwayne Bacon, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Michael Ojo, Phil Cofer, Jarquez Smith, Terance Mann

Newcomers: Jonathan Isaac, Trent Forrest, Braian Angola-Rodas, CJ Walker, Mfiondu Kabengele

The Seminoles are good – really good. A dark horse to win the ACC, Florida State brings back two of its best players from a season ago in Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes. Pair that with a top 10 recruit in Jonathan Isaac and the Seminoles have the pieces to not only break their four-year NCAA Tournament drought, but make a run once they get there. After losing their top shot blocker in Bojanovsky, the biggest question facing Florida State will be the play of their big men. But whatever FSU may be lacking in big men, they more than make up for with their guards. Don’t be surprised if the Seminoles find themselves grabbing a high seed in this year’s Big Dance.

Georgia Tech

Last Season: 21-15 (8-10)

Key Losses: Brian Gregory (Head Coach), Marcus Georges-Hunt, Adam Smith, Nick Jacobs, Charles Mitchell

Key Returners: Quinton Stephens, Ben Lammers, Sylvester Ogbonda, Abdoulaye Gueye, Josh Heath, Tadric Jackson, Corey Heyward

Newcomers: Josh Pastner (Head Coach), Christian Matthews, Josh Okogie, Justin Moore, Jodan Price, Kellen McCormick

Yellow Jacket fans need to be patient in the early going of the Josh Pastner era, as Georgia Tech will more than likely take a step back this season. Without a Duke-esque recruiting class, it’s nearly impossible to improve after losing your top four scorers and adding a new head coach. Pastner has proven he’s a fantastic young coach, but it will more than likely take a couple years before he can really turn the Yellow Jackets back into ACC contenders.

Louisville

Last Season: 23-8 (12-6)

Key Losses: Damion Lee, Trey Lewis, Chinanu Onuaku

Key Returners: Donovan Mitchell, Quentin Snider, Mangok Mathiang, Anas Mahmoud, Matz Stockman, Deng Adel, Ray Spalding, Jaylen Johnson

Newcomers: V.J. King, Tony Hicks

The Cards lost their top three scorers and leading rebounder, but Rick Pitino will have plenty of talent to develop an elite team. They’re a sure-fire top 25 team, but the big question will be whether Pitino can develop young players like Mitchell, Snider and King into high-caliber ACC players. If he can do that, Louisville has the potential to be a top 10 and ACC contending team.

Watch out for this team. Remember, they missed out on postseason play last season with self-imposed sanctions, and the combination of a talented team, Hall of Fame coach and playing with a chip on their shoulders is a very dangerous combination.

Miami

Last Season: 27-8 (13-5)

Key Losses: Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan, Tonye Jekiri

Key Returners: Davon Reed, Ja’Quan Newton, Kamari Murphy, Ebuka Izundu, Anthony Lawrence Jr.

Newcomers: Bruce Brown, Dewan Huell, Dejan Vasiljevic Jr., Rodney Miller Jr., Rashad Muhammad

The Canes will need to fill offensive holes left by top scorers Rodriguez and McClellan, and their leading shot blocker in Jekiri. The good news for Jim Larranaga’s squad is he brings back a solid core of experienced players as well as a stellar freshman class led by five star recruits Bruce Brown and Dewan Huell. Keep an eye on Rashad Muhammad, brother of NBA wingman Shabazz Muhammad, who is eligible after transferring from San Jose State and sitting out last season. The Hurricanes have plenty of talent to make a substantial NCAA Tournament run, but also have big enough question marks to miss the Big Dance all together.

North Carolina

Last Season: 33-7 (14-4)

Key Losses: Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Joel James

Key Returners: Joel Berry II, Isaiah Hicks, Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks, Nate Britt, Kenny Williams, Theo Pinson, Luke Maye

Newcomers: Tony Bradley, Seventh Woods, Brandon Robinson

Losing All-American caliber players like Paige and Johnson obviously hurts, but UNC has the tools to make another deep postseason run. Joel Berry II emerged as one of the country’s best guards and plays with the speed and scoring ability that Tar Heel point guards are known for. The key for the UNC will be Justin Jackson’s ability to become a go-to scorer and freshman center Tony Bradley’s play down low. Bradley has all the tools to be an impact freshman, but will need to adjust to the college game quickly facing some of the best competition the country has to offer.

North Carolina State

Last Season: 16-17 (5-13)

Key Losses: Anthony ‘Cat’ Barber, Caleb Martin, Cody Martin

Key Returners: Abdul-Malik Abu, Beejay Anya, Maverick Rowan, Terry Henderson, Lennard Freeman

Newcomers: Dennis Smith Jr., Omer Yurtseven, Torin Dorn, Markell Johnson, Darius Hicks, Ted Kapita

There’s a lot of hype in Raleigh heading into the 2016-17 season, and for good reason. The Wolfpack welcome a strong recruiting class, led by Dennis Smith Jr. who might be the most dynamic recruit in program history. Abu and Anya will both be big factors for the Pack in the paint, as will five-star freshman Omer Yurtseven. The seven-footer from Turkey will have to sit out the first nine games of the season, but will be back for conference play. The Wolfpack are deep and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them climb the rankings in a hurry.

Notre Dame

Last Season: 24-12 (11-7)

Key Losses: Demetrius Jackson, Zach Auguste

Key Returners: Steve Vasturia, V.J. Beachem, Bonzie Colson, Matt Farrell, Rex Pflueger

Newcomers: Temple Gibbs, John Mooney, Elijah Burns, Nikola Djogo

This season is nothing new for Mike Brey – looking to fill voids left by his two best players from an Elite 8 team. But Brey and the Irish have a knack for surprising people when they’re tabbed as “rebuilding” or picked to have a down year. Vasturia and Beachem are legit scorers and Bonzie Colson is a beast in the paint. We know the Irish will be a scrappy bunch that can rain in threes at a dizzying rate, but the key for Brey’s squad will be whether or not other big men will emerge to help Colson down low.

Pitt

Last Season: 21-12 (9-9)

Key Losses: Jamie Dixon (Head Coach), James Robinson, Sterling Smith, Rafael Maia

Key Returners: Michael Young, Jamel Artis, Sheldon Jeter, Chris Jones, Ryan Luther, Cameron Johnson

Newcomers: Kevin Stallings (Head Coach), Justice Kithcart, Corey Manigault, Crisshawn Clark.

Jamie Dixon is out and the Kevin Stallings era has begun in Pittsburgh. Stallings couldn’t ask for a much better transition, as six of the Panthers’ top seven scorers return and all three of Dixon’s incoming recruits have decided to stay despite the coaching change. All-ACC forward Michael Young leads a Panthers team that seems to be flying way under the radar. Adapting to a new head coach always brings possible challenges, but Pitt has enough veteran leaders to help both Stallings and the newcomers make an instant impact.

Syracuse

Last Season: 23-14 (9-9)

Key Losses: Michael Gbinije, Malachi Richardson, Trevor Cooney

Key Returners: Tyler Lydon, Tyler Roberson, DaJuan Coleman, Frank Howard

Newcomers: Andrew White, Paschal Chukwu, John Gillon, Tyus Battle, Matthew Moyer, Taurean Thompson.

The core of last year’s Final Four team is gone (Gbinije, Richardson and Cooney), but Jim Boeheim has reloaded with a combination of freshman and transfer talent. Andrew White, Paschal Chuckwu and John Gillon make up the transfers, while Tyus Battle, Matthew Moyer and Taurean Thompson are all four-star recruits. All six of these newcomers will compete for significant playing time on a team led by veterans DaJuan Coleman, Tyler Roberson and Tyler Lydon. It’ll be a new look Syracuse team, but expect the same results – a gritty team that no one will want to see come March.

Virginia

Last Season: 29-8 (13-5)

Key Losses: Malcolm Brogdon, Anyhony Gill, Mike Tobey

Key Returners: London Perrantes, Isaiah Wilkins, Devon Hall, Darius Thompson, Marial Shayok

Newcomers: Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter, Jay Huff, Mamadi Diakite, Austin Nichols*

*Has since been dismissed from the team

The Cavaliers have established themselves as a member of the ACC elite, and their recruiting is starting to show it. Tasked with the challenge of replacing 58 percent of their scoring and 48 percent of their rebounding, Tony Bennett brings in his highest rated freshman class to date. He’ll pair that crop of talented freshman with one of the country’s best point guards in London Perrantes and a former ESPN top 40 recruit coming off a redshirt season in Mamadi Diakite.

The Hoos consensus top 10 class is headlined by McDonalds All-American Kyle Guy – a 6’3” shooting guard who can light it up from beyond the arc and is plenty athletic enough to get to the rim and finish with authority. Four-star recruits Ty Jerome, DeAndre Hunter and Jay Huff join Guy in a freshman class that will be key to Virginia’s postseason success.

Virginia Tech

Last Season: 20-15 (10-8)

Key Losses: Jalen Hudson

Key Returners : Zach LeDay, Seth Allen, Justin Bibbs, Chris Clarke, Kerry Blackshear Jr., Justin Robinson, Ahmed Hill, Ty Outlaw

Newcomers: Tyrie Jackson and Khadim Sy

Do not – I repeat – DO NOT sleep on the Hokies. Buzz Williams has made tremendous strides in his first two seasons as Virginia Tech’s head coach, and his Hokies look ready to break through this season. Williams returns his top four scorers, his top five rebounders and a pair of dangerous players in Ahmed Hill and Ty Outlaw, who both missed the entire 2015-16 season with respective injuries.

Senior standout Zach LeDay leads a Hokie team that has a great mix of veteran leadership and young potential. Keep an eye on sophomore wingman Chris Clarke to have a big year as the Hokies look to snap a nine-year NCAA Tournament drought.

Wake Forest

Last Season: 11-20 (2-16)

Key Losses: Devin Thomas, Cody Miller-McIntyre, Rondale Watson, Cornelius Hudson

Key Returners: Bryant Crawford, Mitchell Wilbekin, John Collins, Konstantinos Mitoglou, Doral Moore, Greg McClinton

Newcomers: Keyshawn Woods, Austin Arians, Brandon Childress, Samuel Japhet-Mathias, Rich Washington, Donovan Mitchell

Last season was a rough one for the Danny Manning and the Demon Deacons. With senior leadership and a 6-2 record through the team’s first right games, things looked promising in Winston-Salem. Then the Deacs went 5-18 over their final 23 games and managed just two conference wins. Leading scorer and rebounder Devin Thomas graduated, as did point guard Cody Miller-McIntyre. Guard Rondale Watson transferred to Marshall and Manning dismissed Cornelius Hudson for violation of program policy.

But there’s reason for optimism for Deacon faithful, as players like Bryant Crawford, John Collins and Mitchell Wilbekin return and should be key contributors. Transfers Keyshawn Woods and Austin Arians should provide immediate help on the offensive end and freshman Brandon Childress (son of former Wake star Randolph Childress) should see significant minutes at guard. If Wake plays well, an NCAA Tournament appearance is well within their reach.