ACC Hoops Preview: Welcome, Louisville
ACC Hoops Preview: Welcome, Louisville

This article is part of our Draft Kit series.

The ACC welcomes Louisville, the NCAA's equivalent of a player who transfers multiple times during his career. It wasn't that long ago that the Cardinals were part of Conference USA. Coach Rick Pitino's team subsequently went to the Big East, spent a year in the American Athletic and has now joined the ACC super-conference. There would be 16 teams in the ACC, but Maryland left for the football-rich Big Ten.

It may take some time to get used to this Big East-influenced conference with Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Just like old times, North Carolina and Duke should be a step ahead of the competition, but Louisville won't be far behind. It remains to be seen if some of the lower-rated teams can bubble up and make this the best conference in the nation.

Top Three

Jerian Grant, guard-forward, Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Grant was well on his way to a superstar season as a junior when he was suspended for academics after 12 games. Granted, he did most of his work against undermanned competition such as Stetson and Army, but his numbers in the first semester speak for themselves: 19.0 points on 51.8 percent from the field, 1.7 3-pointers from 40.8 percent from beyond the arc, 6.2 assists, and 2.0 steals. Seeing as he shot below 40 percent in his first two seasons, his numbers likely would have descended, but he should be the main man for the Irish as a senior.

Montrezl Harrell, forward, Louisville Cardinals -
The wide-bodied Harrell took a giant step forward in his sophomore season. So much so that there were rumblings that maybe Harrell would go pro. He needs to improve his free throw shooting (46.4 percent from the line last year), but the 6-foot-8, 240, junior has the skill and size to dominate in the paint, even in his new conference. He hit 60.9 percent of his field goals while in the AAC and finished with averages of 14.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in 29.3 minutes. Add in 1.0 steal and 1.3 blocks per game and you have a fantasy beast.

Marcus Paige, guard, North Carolina Tar Heels -
If basketball had a position similar to the closer in baseball, the Paige would be a good candidate. The 6-1 Tar Heel guard would generally be content to distribute to other UNC teammates in the first half, but he would take over in the second half. His sensational 17.5-point scoring average led the team and he should have the featured scoring role again as a junior. Paige hit 87.7 percent of his freebies and doled out 4.2 assists to boot. He scored more than 30 points twice and UNC won both games (32 points against Louisville, and a career-high 35 in an overtime win against North Carolina State).

Top Freshman

Jalil Okafor, center, Duke Blue Devils - Many fantasy leagues require a freshman and a center. If a fantasy owner can fill both slots with a single player, he has a huge advantage. Therefore, it is something of a no-brainer to take Okafor early, since he should be the true low post scorer that Duke hasn't had since maybe Carlos Boozer (or possibly Shelden Williams, if we are feeling generous). The product of Chicago provided 24.2 points and 11.3 boards as a high school senior. Those numbers will be hard to reproduce at the next level, but he should see plenty of double-doubles.

Top Transfer

Angel Rodriguez, guard, Miami Hurricanes - Miami did not have much leadership from its backcourt last year. Garrius Adams led the team with 2.9 assists. Rodriguez should solve that problem. After sitting out a season upon his transfer, the 5-11 junior should be bursting at the seams to get back on the court. He provided 11.4 points, 5.2 assists, and 1.5 steals in 2012-13 for Kansas State. Hopefully, Rodriguez spent his year off working on his shot since he converted just 36.1 percent of his field goals as a Wildcat.

Pair of Sleepers

Anthony "Cat" Barber, guard, North Carolina State Wolfpack - If you've been reading along with these columns, by now you know I like the "post-hype sleeper." Barber came to Raleigh as a McDonald's All-American, but struggled as a freshman. Last year, Barber provided 8.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists despite playing 24.2 minutes and losing his starting spot at point guard. This year, he will stay in the starting lineup and help the Wolfpack overcome the loss of T.J. Warren.

Shane Henry, forward, Virginia Tech Hokies -
Trying to translate junior college (or high school, for that matter) stats is a fool's errand. The only number that really matters is the minutes that a player will be given. If Henry, a 6-8 transfer from Georgia Perimeter College, earns a starting spot, he could do some damage. He averaged 13.2 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 4.7 blocks in 2013-14. While he is slight at 190 lbs, he clearly has a nose for the ball and some defensive skills that could be used by coach Buzz Williams.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Perry Missner
Missner covers college basketball for RotoWire. A veteran fantasy sports writer, he once served on the executive board for the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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