Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Freshmen Flourishing; Young Players Make Impact in Conference

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Freshmen Flourishing; Young Players Make Impact in Conference

Article excerpt

Byline: BOB THOMAS

There might not be a Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo or Derrick Rose in the bunch just yet, but the Atlantic Coast Conference freshman class of basketball players isn't lacking for productivity.

Seven ACC rookies are contributing double-figure scoring for their teams, and the class has turned out 32 double-doubles. Those are healthy contributions in a league that boasts the nation's top ranking in the Ratings Percentage Index.

"A lot people are calling this the year of the freshmen, and many of those freshmen nationally are their team's superstar," said ACC Sports Journal editor Dave Glenn. "Most of the ACC's top freshmen are complementary players, and that has made their transition easier."

That's not to say the group is short on star power. North Carolina State center J.J. Hickson leads the ACC in field-goal percentage and is second in rebounding. Duke forward Kyle Singler is the Blue Devils' leading rebounder and second-leading scorer in league play.

"Maybe the guy who would be the best freshman, [Solomon] Alabi from Florida State, hasn't even played," television analyst Dan Bonner said.

Only Hickson and Singler were higher-rated prospects among ACC freshmen than the Seminoles' 7-footer, who is out for the season while recovering from leg surgery.

Consider the contributions the rookie class is making for teams seeking NCAA Tournament at-large berths. Wake Forest's James Johnson and Jeff Teague are the Demon Deacons' top two scorers.

"The thing that impresses me most? Look at all the contributions the freshmen have made for Virginia Tech," Bonner said. "They could be playing that into an NCAA berth."

Led by forward Jeff Allen, the Hokies' five-member freshman class is producing 35.5 points a game, the eighth-most productive freshman class in league history.

The same is true at Clemson, where rookie guards Terrence Oglesby and Demontez Stitt are contributing nearly 20 points a game as the Tigers are close to snapping a nine-year drought between NCAA appearances.

bob.thomas@jacksonville.com, (850) 224-7515

ROOKIE LEADERS

There is no shortage of productivity from this season's deep crop of Atlantic Coast Conference freshmen. …

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