ACC Basketball media day is in the books and it was a highly informative one as always. First off, the conference feels almost as deep as it always as been. There are 7 or so locks for the tournament with Duke, Louisville, Miami, UNC, UVA, Virginia and Notre Dame leading the way. The more intriguing part may be the middle of the pack featuring Georgia Tech, Clemson, Florida State and Syracuse who all have the potential to be dancing in March. Unfortunately, it looks like long seasons for Boston College and Pittsburgh who don’t have the talent to match up. The players I talked to for the most part enjoyed the conversations and we even got Game of Thrones theories from Ben Lammers of Georgia Tech.
The biggest storyline unfortunately had to do with the FBI investigation and the black eye that the sport took because of it. Commissioner Swofford was even asked if he regretted adding Louisville to which he said no. (Yes, that was asked and no it wasn’t by me). I talked to several coaches throughout the day and the general sentiment was that the game will overcome it even if things get a little worse and that the playing of games in two weeks or so will help immensely. I also got the thoughts of several coaches about these exhibitions this year against other schools and they seemed to be overwhelmingly for it.
Localizing it, I had great conversations with the UVA and Virginia Tech players and coaches. I could sit in a room and listen to Tony Bennett for hours and certainly understand the synergy he has with Bronco Mendenhall. Isaiah Wilkins and Devon Hall were very engaging and seem ready to take on more of a leadership role. UVA may be picked in the middle of the pack, but I think you can’t count them out with Bennett as their leader. The pieces are there for the offense to be a lot better.
With regards to the Hokies, Buzz Williams was my favorite interview. He’s a guy that gets it and has his team in line for a great season. One of my favorite answers he had was about the growth of crowds at Cassell Coliseum. Devin Wilson was fun to talk to and the perspective he learned while playing football will help him on the basketball court. People forget about the numbers he put up in his freshman year and I think he’ll be a vital piece this season.
Finally, I’ve never hid my feelings about Grayson Allen. I spoke to the Blue Devil as well even for a couple of minutes and he seems like a humble player. Allen was never pushed by Coach K to come back and he made the decision himself after getting a lot of information from other places. I’ll never root for Duke, but my mind may have changed a little bit about him the person.
It all gets underway soon and the ACC will be just fine.