CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The ACC’s Operation Basketball event is taking place in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday as players and coaches from each school sit down with the media. Here are the top nuggets so far:
- “Difference-makers” and “mentality-changers” were the first words Jim Christian used to describe freshman guards Ky Bowman and Ty Graves.
- Jaron Blossomgame on testing the waters: “Early on, when I first declared, I was feeling like, ‘I’m leaving. There’s no way I’m coming back to school.'” But after going through the process and interviewing with a few times, he received feedback that he could improve his stock by returning.
- Blossomgame said that this year’s team is “by far” the most talented team he’s been on at Clemson.
- A lot of positive buzz about the transfers. Shelton Mitchell will be a major part of the team, with Avry Holmes moving off the ball when Mitchell is in the game. Marcquise Reed is expected to give the Tigers another shooter, while Elijah Thomas (who will be eligible after first semester) is a do-it-all player in the post.
- Mike Krzyzewski avoided taking a guess at how Duke’s depth will affect the minutes of Grayson Allen (who averaged more minutes last season than any other returning ACC player at 36.6 per game).
- Defense has been a focal point for Florida State. Dwayne Bacon says the Seminoles believe they would have been an NCAA tournament team last season had they not played poorly on the defensive end.
- Josh Pastner will determine Georgia Tech’s starting lineup for this Saturday’s private scrimmage against Mississippi State based on leading rebounders in competitive practices. The starters will include the forwards who collect the most total rebounds and the guards who pull down the most defensive boards.
- Louisville teams under Rick Pitino have been known for their defense, and Pitino says this year’s group might be the best shot-blocking team he’s had in 16 seasons with the Cardinals.
- Davon Reed is impressed with Miami’s freshman class and stated that Bruce Brown is someone he thinks could develop into a premiere play in the ACC.
- Reed on Rashad Muhammad: “He can shoot the ball — not the fastest guy, not the most explosive guy, but finds his spots on the floor. Nice touch, can really shoot the ball, and he’ll be able to contribute on the offensive end for us.”
- If UNC’s season had started a week ago, Roy Williams would have started Theo Pinson. Kenny Williams, Nate Britt and Brandon Robinson will now all compete for more minutes to fill the void left by Pinson.
- The biggest key for Isaiah Hicks this season: staying out of foul trouble. Joel Berry said that he’s noticed improvement in Hicks’ conditioning, which he expects will prevent fatigue-driven fouls.
- Berry pointed out that, with Theo Pinson out, UNC loses its most vocal player. In terms of replacing Pinson’s versatility, Justin Jackson will see more time at the 4 in smaller lineups.
- The guy who Dennis Smith Jr. models his game after? Former ACC and Wake Forest star Chris Paul.
- Smith on how he handles high expectations: “I’ve got to tune it out. If I just embrace all the good and no negative, then my ego will get too big. If I just embrace all the negative with no good, then I’ll get down on myself. I just take everything in stride and don’t pay too much attention to it. I just remain humble with everything I do.”
- Martin Geben will be the guy replacing Zach Auguste. He’ll play the role of shot-blocker and rebounder.
- Following Pitt’s coaching change, Michael Young considered his options of testing the waters or transferring. Sheldon Jeter, who played for Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt, was the main teammate he turned to for advice. The first time Young met with Stallings, Jamel Artis was a part of the meeting as well. Young appreciated the honesty from that meeting and decided to stay.
- Artis will be the Panthers’ primary point guard.
- The Orange have five new scholarship players on the roster this season. Does the fact that two of them are transfers help ease the burden? According to Jim Boeheim: “Not necessarily because they’ve learned other habits maybe. They’ve played a certain way for their whole careers, and now they’re going to play our way. It’s a little different. They do have the experience, and they do have the skills, which are good. Overall, it’s very positive to have those guys.”
- Speaking of transfers, Boeheim raved about Andrew White’s shooting ability, calling him one of the best shooters Syracuse has ever had.
- London Perrantes admitted to glancing at the ACC schedule when it came out last month. He wishes he could have one more shot at Duke (Virginia lost by four points in Cameron Indoor Stadium three seasons ago and by one point last season). The lone meeting between the two this season will be on Feb. 15 in Charlottesville.
- Doral Moore will be an important piece of Wake Forest’s rotation this season, and Danny Manning said the sophomore center has taken a significant step forward this offseason. Manning stated that the next step for Moore will be to have a presence on every possession he’s on the floor.
- Austin Arians said he noticed from his first day at Wake Forest that Keyshawn Woods had the team’s respect. He noted that Woods is the vocal leader of the group.