A Different Kind of March Madness as Off-Season Begins

Erick Green leads a number of pivotal seniors whose ACC careers end this year.
Erick Green leads a number of pivotal seniors whose ACC careers end this year.

The arrival of Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse will not be the only changes in Atlantic Coast Conference basketball next season. While this basketball season is still ongoing, the off-season has begun at several schools, bringing a different variety of March Madness with it.

Duke assistant coach Chris Collins’ departure to fill the head coaching opening at Northwestern has drawn considerable attention this week. After playing for the Blue Devils from 1992 to 1996, Collins accepted an assistant coaching position at Duke in 2000. Due to his long stay in Durham, the move to Northwestern was big news.  However, it’s not the only departure the ACC will see this offseason.

Some of the best players in the conference (not surprisingly) were seniors.  Of the five first-team All-ACC players, three will graduate this offseason.  ACC Player of the Year Erick Green, along with NC State’s Richard Howell, has played his last college game.  Duke’s Mason Plumlee is also a senior, extending his career with an NCAA Tournament run which will resume Friday against Michigan State.  Other seniors on All-ACC teams include Seth Curry, Kenny Kadji, Michael Snaer, and Devin Booker.

Several of the top ACC teams will suffer from graduation.  Kadji, Reggie Johnson, Durand Scott, Julian Gamble, and Trey McKinney Jones are all leaving Coral Gables this summer.  Ryan Kelly will join Plumlee and Curry in receiving diplomas from Duke, while Scott Wood will join Howell on the graduation stage in Raleigh.

Several players will be contemplating their futures in the NBA this offseason.  NC State’s Lorenzo Brown has already decided to go pro this offseason, and it is likely CJ Leslie will follow him.  Several draft boards also include North Carolina’s James Michael McAdoo and Maryland’s Alex Len as potential draftees.  While those players will certainly be getting assistance from coaches to get sound advice over the coming weeks, they could have some important decisions to make ahead.

There will also be ACC players transferring to other schools. Three highly-touted recruits who were ranked in the top 125 of the class of 2011 will be leaving their respective schools.

Robert Brown, a four-star recruit in ESPN’s top 100 in 2011, will be leaving Virginia Tech.  Brown averaged 27.3 minutes per game for the Hokies this season.  However, the guard struggled this season, making just 23.5 percent of his three-point attempts.  Brown’s father told the Washington Post that the sophomore wants to transfer closer to their Florida home.

Bernard Sullivan will transfer from Clemson after two disappointing seasons.  The Davidson, NC native was touted as a top-20 power forward in his recruiting class. However, he only saw only 7.2 minutes per game as a freshman and 9.1 minutes as a sophomore. Sullivan’s career-high point tally was seven points, which he achieved twice. The first seven-point game was as a freshman, in a loss at Virginia Tech, while the second came this season in a win over Georgia Tech.

Julian Royal will also be transferring, leaving Georgia Tech after his second season.  Royal, originally recruited by Paul Hewitt, was the only commitment in Brian Gregory’s first recruiting class at Georgia Tech.  Royal played 16 minutes per game as a freshman, but saw his minutes drop this year with the arrival of Robert Carter.  Royal only participated in 1 of the Yellow Jackets’ 18 conference games, playing ten minutes only once (a 57-56 win over Wake Forest).

There will undoubtedly be more announcements in the near future. However, the offseason is already off to a running start in the ACC, which means next November will look very little like this March at many schools.

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