The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is one of the strongest conferences in basketball annually. While it is loaded with young talent this year, there are some returning players with chances to have huge breakout seasons in the ACC. For clarification, freshmen have been left off this list.
Potential Breakout Players in the ACC
Wendell Moore Jr.
One of the two returners from last year’s freshmen class, Wendell Moore Jr. is poised for a special breakout season in the ACC. Obviously, Duke has a great recruiting class coming in with six highly-touted freshmen. This actually works for Moore as he is not known as a scorer, but more of an all-around basketball player.
Moore’s biggest moment last season was the game-winning layup in a historic comeback against the North Carolina Tar Heels. However, he did some other great things all year. Moore was the primary playmaker behind Tre Jones. This season, Jeremy Roach will be the primary playmaker, but Moore will continue to help in that area.
Moore will have some games where he flirts with a triple-double. His issue last season was that those games were sporadic. This year, I expect Moore to have a strong nightly presence and be the leader or close to the leader in rebounds and assists for the Blue Devils. If he continues to develop as a scorer, the sky is the limit. That is far from the ceiling. It is the roof.
Samuell Williamson may not be well-known nationally, but he will be by the end of the season. Williamson was a highly-recruited freshman last season but did not get a ton of playing time. He spent most of his time behind Jordan Nwora and when he was on the court he was not featured. Thinking back to Nwora’s early career, he also did not get a ton of time or opportunity but then took a huge leap in his sophomore season.
Louisville has some really nice guards this year, but someone from the frontcourt needs to step up. That guy is Williamson. He should have the ball in his hands a lot more and get to use his wide skill set. He should easily average double figures and that number can reach closer to 15 points per game if he plays well.
Jose Alvarado is another player that may not be very well known nationally in. Alvarado has been outstanding since arriving at Georgia Tech. He has never averaged below 12 points, 4 rebounds, or 3 assists in a season. Fans of the ACC know about him as he did make All-ACC last season. However, bigger things are coming this year.
The Yellow Jackets should have a very solid year and need to make the NCAA tournament. Alvarado and Michael DeVoe form one of the best backcourts in the nation. Last season, Alvarado averaged 14.4 points per game. That number should increase to above 15 and his assist total should also rise to 4.5 per game.
Alvarado is a very quick and shifty guard. He is a good defender and also difficult to deal with. Alvarado should put his name in the hat for ACC Player of the Year this season if he can stay healthy.
Florida State is tough to figure out sometimes. Leonard Hamilton plays so many people that opportunities are widely distributed. MJ Walker was one of the highest-ranked recruits in the Seminoles’ recent history but he has not broken through yet.
Undoubtedly, Walker had big games in the past, but he needs to be more consistent. This season, he got what the doctor ordered. Scottie Barnes is going to make Walker’s life so much easier. Barnes will consistently draw the attention of the defense and make plays. All Walker needs to do is be Robin to Barnes’ Batman.
Walker is super athletic and a solid scorer at all levels. He has developed his ball-handling ability while in Tallahassee and that helps him get to the rim. With his big frame and guard-like abilities, Walker has to produce this season. Florida State typically does not have a huge scorer as the ball is spread out, but Walker can easily average 12 points per game. With the addition of Barnes and an improved Walker, the Seminoles are dangerous.
Buddy Boeheim had a solid scoring season last year. Boeheim averaged 15.3 points and shot 37 percent from behind the arc. However, Syracuse was poor and finished the year 18-14. This season, Boeheim has to increase all of his numbers as Elijah Hughes is no longer there to bail out the Syracuse offense.
Boeheim is a great shooter, but he lacks the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the hoop. He does not necessarily need to add that to have a great season, but Syracuse needs to feature him on the perimeter. Recently, Syracuse has struggled offensively and relied on big shot-makers like Hughes and Tyus Battle to bail them out. This year, there is no help for Boeheim.
Realistically, Boeheim needs to approach the 20 points per game mark if Syracuse wants to contend. He should take a lot of shots and Syracuse’s offense should center on getting him in rhythm. If that happens, the nets can be on fire. There is nothing quite like a shooter in rhythm with confidence.
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