In years past I’ve posted detailed breakdowns of all fourteen other ACC rosters heading into the season and then doing a separate power rankings. This year, I want to switch it up, and unveil them count-down style in three installments:

Part One: ACC Tournament Day 1 Participants

Part Two: Postseason Bid Chasers

Part Three: Conference Contenders

Here in Part One, we’ll start from the bottom and work our way up, with a collection of teams spinning their wheels with their respective coaches on the hot seat, and others working to turn around their fortunes. Just because these teams won’t be playing deep into March, there are still some intriguing players to watch here, some who could at least play upset spoiler to the contenders this year, especially with an eye towards the future.

For each team, we’ll look at their finish last year, the percentages of last season’s minutes and points back on this year’s roster, and a roundup of player departures, returns, and additions with last year’s stat line, along with a brief outlook on their 2022-23 prospects. For each roster breakdown, projected starters are in bold.

#15 – Georgia Tech

2021-22 Record: 12-20 (5-15); 14th in ACC

  • % of 2021-22 Minutes Returning: 54.1%
    • ACC Rank: 5 of 15
  • % of 2021-22 Points Returning: 43.9%
    • ACC Rank: 10 of 15

Departures

  • G/F Michael Devoe (Turned Pro)
    • 31 G, 34.5 mpg, 17.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 37% 3P%
  • F Jordan Usher (Turned Pro)
    • 32 G, 31.7 mpg, 14.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 34% 3P%
  • F Khalid Moore (Transferred to Fordham)
    • 32 G, 23.9 mpg, 5.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 21% 3P%
  • C Saba Gigiberia (Transferred to San Francisco)
    • 15 G, 7.9 mpg, 2.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 49% FG%

Returners

  • PG Deivon Smith (JR)
    • 24 G, 19.7 mpg, 5.7 ppg, 2 apg, 28% 3P%
  • G Kyle Sturdivant (SR)
    • 32 G, 25.2 mpg, 7.6 ppg, 2.3 apg, 33% 3P%
  • G Tristan Maxwell (RS SO)
    • 5 G, 15.6 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 0.4 apg, 40% 3P%
  • SG Miles Kelly (SO)
    • 30 G, 14.6 mpg, 4.5 ppg, 0.5 apg, 35% 3P%
  • SF Dallan Coleman (SO)
    • 31 G, 23.5 mpg, 6.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 41% 3P%
  • F Jalon Moore (SO)
    • 13 G, 8.5 mpg, 2.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 60% 3P%
  • PF Jordan Meka (RS JR)
    • 15 G, 12.5 mpg, 0.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 22% FG%
  • C Rodney Howard (SR)
    • 27 G, 24.8 mpg, 6.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 56% FG%

Additions

  • G Lance Terry (SR Transfer, Gardner-Webb)
    • 31 G, 31.5 mpg, 14.3 ppg, 1.2 apg, 35% 3P% at Gardner-Webb
  • PF Javon Franklin (SR Transfer, South Alabama)
    • 32 G, 28 mpg, 12.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 66% FG% at South Alabama
  • PF Freds Pauls Bagatskis (2-star FR)
  • C Cyril Martynov (2-star FR)

Season Outlook

It feels like ages since GT won the ACC Tournament in 2021 with Jose Alvarado at the helm and Moses Wright in the post. The Jackets crashed back to earth last season, going 12-20 (5-15) on the year, even with veteran talents Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher on the wings. With those two now gone as well along with veteran Khalid Moore, the GT program has more questions than it’s had in years, no returners with more than 8 ppg, none with more than 3 apg, and only one with more than 4 rpg.

The backcourt will look to returning guards Deivon Smith and Kyle Sturdivant to grow into leading roles, with Gardner Webb scoring guard Lance Terry fighting for a starting role as he adapts to ACC play. Sweet-shooting small forward Deebo Coleman is the closest thing to a known commodity on GT’s perimeter, but he’ll need to grow into a feature role now that he’s out of Devoe, Usher, and Moore’s collective shadows. The frontcourt will look to lean on senior big man Rodney Howard, who largely held his own last year in his first season as a starter. But the Jackets return little depth behind him, with Jalon Moore and Jordan Meka failing to establish themselves yet, and two incoming international rookies being completely off the recruiting radar. Pastner will need South Alabama transfer Javon Franklin to be up to the challenge as he steps up in competition.

There’s just no room for error with this roster. Way too much has to go right, multiple guys need to take a major developmental step forward and no long-term injuries can be afforded, for this team to significantly improve from last year. They’ll be scrappy, but there just isn’t the talent or experience to hang with the better teams in the League this year. After finishing 2nd-to-last last season and then losing their two best players without notable reinforcements to take their place, it’s hard to see any real improvement from Georgia Tech this year.

 

#14 – Pittsburgh

2021-22 Record: 11-21 (6-14); T-11th in ACC

  • % of 2021-22 Minutes Returning: 46.1%
    • ACC Rank: 9 of 15
  • % of 2021-22 Points Returning: 51.8%
    • ACC Rank: 4 of 15

Departures

  • G Ithiel Horton (Transferred to UCF)
    • 13 G, 30.1 mpg, 9.8 ppg, 1.3 apg, 38% 3P%
  • G Onyebuchi Ezeakudo (Transferred to Radford)
    • 32 G, 18.7 mpg, 2.1 ppg, 1.2 apg, 38% 3P%
  • SG Femi Odukale (Transferred to Seton Hall)
    • 31 G, 32.4 mpg, 10.8 ppg, 3.4 apg, 33% 3P%
  • F Chris Payton (Transferred to Kent State)
    • 13 G, 3.1 mpg, 0.8 ppg, 0.8 rpg, 100% 3P%
  • PF Mouhamadou Gueye (Turned Pro)
    • 32 G, 29.2 mpg, 9.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 44% FG%
  • PF Daniel Oladapo (Transferred to NC Central)
    • 15 G, 10.5 mpg, 3.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 80% FG%
  • PF Noah Collier (Transferred to William & Mary)
    • 32 G, 9.6 mpg, 1.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 54% FG%
  • F/C Max Amadasun (Transferred to St Bonvaventure)
    • 7 G, 1.3 mpg, 0.3 ppg, 0.3 rpg, 50% FG%

Returners

  • G/F Jamarius Burton (SR+)
    • 30 G, 34.6 mpg, 12.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 33% 3P%
  • G/F Nike Sibande (SR+)
    • 14 G, 19.8 mpg, 6.9 ppg, 1.5 apg, 44% 3P% in 2020-21
  • F Nate Santos (SO)
    • 25 G, 12.8 mpg, 2.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 22% 3P%
  • PF William Jeffress (JR)
    • 31 G, 21 mpg, 3.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 30% FG%
  • F/C John Hugley (JR)
    • 32 G, 29.6 mpg, 14.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 47% FG%

Additions

  • PG Nelly Cummings (SR+ Transfer, Colgate)
    • 32 G, 32.3 mpg, 14.7 ppg, 3.4 apg, 36% 3P% at Colgate
  • G Greg Elliott (SR+ Transfer, Marquette)
    • 28 G, 16.8 mpg, 7 ppg, 1.3 apg, 39% 3P% at Marquette
  • G Dior Johnson (4-star FR)
  • SF Blake Hinson (RS SR Transfer, Ole Miss / Iowa State)
    • 28 G, 31.1 mpg, 10.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 32% 3P% in 2019-20 at Ole Miss
  • F/C Guillermo Diaz Graham (3-star FR)
  • F/C Jorge Diaz Graham (3-star FR)
  • C Fede Federiko (3-star FR)

Season Outlook

The perennial disappointment that is the former Big East powerhouse Panthers is likely to continue for another year. An astounding 8 players decided to leave the program with eligibility remaining this offseason, with little reason to be confident yet another infusion of transfers and mid-tier recruits will turn much around from last year’s 6-14 league finish.

That said, there are a couple guys to keep an eye on here, especially on the wing. Jamarius Burton showed promise in his first season at Pitt after transferring from Texas Tech. Nike Sibande had a good first season at Pitt two years ago after transferring from Miami (OH) but missed last year with a torn ACL. Blake Hinson was a rising talent at Ole Miss three seasons ago before medical concerns prevented him from ever playing a game at Iowa State. These three should, if healthy, be an intriguing rotation at the 2 and 3 spots. But the rest?

Dior Johnson was supposed to be the answer at the top but a recent arrest for domestic abuse may end that dream before it even begins; we’ll have to wait and see if Capel caves and puts him back on the team like he did with Ithiel Horton late last season (Horton had punched a cop). Transfer guards Nelly Cummings (Colgate) and Greg Elliott (Marquette) will assume the lead guard duties, but neither is proven at this level. The biggest bright spot at Pitt was the retention of throwback big man John Hugely, capable of a double-double on any given night. A number of young talents will compete to replace the underrated Mouhamadou Gueye at the 4-spot, and there will probably be some growing pains there as 3rd year William Jeffress takes on a bigger role and the 3-star rookies get early action. With that said, the front court is somewhere that Capel has proven capable of developing even 3-stars into competent ACC players, so it’s possible we see continued improvement there.

All the same, nothing about the program in Oakland these days says this team is going to get it together to break a postseason drought that goes back to 2016. Things have only improved mildly since the Kevin Stallings debacle. Expect another first-day ACCT appearance.

 

#13 – North Carolina State

2021-22 Record: 11-21 (4-16); 15th in ACC

  • % of 2021-22 Minutes Returning: 39.4%
    • ACC Rank: 11 of 15
  • % of 2021-22 Points Returning: 36.7%
    • ACC Rank: 11 of 15

Departures

  • PG Thomas Allen (Transferred to Ball State)
    • 26 G, 14.2 mpg, 3.8 ppg, 1.1 apg, 33% 3P%
  • G Cam Hayes (Transferred to LSU)
    • 32 G, 20.9 mpg, 7 ppg, 2.1 apg, 25% 3P%
  • F Dereon Seabron (Turned Pro)
    • 32 G, 35.8 mpg, 17.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 26% 3P%
  • F Jericole Hellems (Turned Pro)
    • 32 G, 34.4 mpg, 13.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 39% 3P%
  • PF Jaylon Gibson (Transferred to Winston-Salem State)
    • 29 G, 14 mpg, 2.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 56% FG%
  • C Manny Bates (Transferred to Butler)
    • 24 G, 27.4 mpg, 9.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 64% FG% in 2020-21

Returners

  • PG Breon Pass (SO)
    • 25 G, 8.8 mpg, 2.2 ppg, 0.6 apg, 29% 3P%
  • SG Terquavion Smith (SO)
    • 32 G, 31.6 mpg, 16.3 ppg, 2.1 apg, 37% 3P%
  • SG Casey Morsell (SR)
    • 30 G, 24.3 mpg, 7.2 ppg, 0.8 apg, 35% 3P%
  • PF Ernest Ross (SO)
    • 14 G, 7.1 mpg, 1.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 47% FG%
  • C Ebenezer Dowuona (JR)
    • 31 G, 24.5 mpg, 4.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 56% FG%

Additions

  • PG Jarkel Joiner (SR+ Transfer, Ole Miss)
    • 22 G, 31 mpg, 13.2 ppg, 2.3 apg, 34% 3P% at Ole Miss
  • PG LJ Thomas (3-star FR)
  • F Greg Gantt (RS JR Transfer, Providence)
    • 26 G, 21.4 mpg, 4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 23% 3P% at Providence in 2020-21
  • PF Jack Clark (RS SR Transfer, La Salle)
    • 30 G, 30.4 mpg, 12 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 38% FG% at La Salle
  • F/C Dusan Mahorcic (SR+ Transfer, Utah)
    • 13 G, 14.4 mpg, 5.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 42% FG% at Utah
  • C D.J. Burns (RS SR Transfer, Winthrop)
    • 32 G, 20.9 mpg, 15 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 63% FG% at Winthrop

Season Outlook

After bringing up the ACC’s rear last year, coach Keatts miraculously got another season to run the team, but now has to do so without all-ACC wing Dereon Sebron, star recruit Cam Hayes, solid forward Jericole Hellems, and powerful big man Manny Bates (who missed last season with injury, then transferred rather than finish with State).

The backcourt is headlined by last year’s breakout freshman Terquavion Smith, who is already showing up on NBA Draft Boards for this coming summer, and rent-a-super-senior PG Jarkel Joiner transfers from the SEC to run the offense. I’m projecting our old friend Casey Morsell to start as an undersized wing at the 3, but do expect Keatts to deploy some bigger lineups as he’s grown fond of doing with Hellems and Seabron in recent years. Greg Gantt, coming off a redshirt season after transferring from Providence, will see some time as a jumbo wing, letting Keatts deploy the big man trio of Ebenezer Dowuona, Lasalle transfer Jack Clark, and Winthrop transfer DJ Burns for longer stretches.

With all that said, there’s little depth to get excited about unless there are some surprise breakouts from youngsters Breon Pass, Ernest Ross, or LJ Thomas. And one has to wonder how much this team can possibly improve a defense that ranked dead last in the conference and an abysmal 246th nationally per KenPom. The NIT is probably the ceiling here, but most likely it’s another season that ends with an early ACCT loss, keeping Kevin Keatts’ seat plenty hot.

 

#12 – Louisville

2021-22 Record: 13-19 (6-14); T-11th in ACC

  • % of 2021-22 Minutes Returning: 27.8%
    • ACC Rank: 13 of 15
  • % of 2021-22 Points Returning: 32.2%
    • ACC Rank: 13 of 15

Departures

  • PG Jarrod West (Graduated)
    • 32 G, 28.1 mpg, 6.1 ppg, 2.9 apg, 33% 3P%
  • PG Mason Faulkner (Graduated)
    • 31 G, 18.4 mpg, 4.6 ppg, 2.6 apg, 33% 3P%
  • SG Noah Locke (Transferred to Providence)
    • 32 G, 26.1 mpg, 9.6 ppg, 1 apg, 34% 3P%
  • SF Dre Davis (Transferred to Seton Hall)
    • 30 G, 20 mpg, 7.4 ppg, 3 rpg, 21% 3P%
  • F Samuell Williamson (Transferred to SMU)
    • 30 G, 16.9 mpg, 5.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 15% 3P%
  • PF Matt Cross (Transferred to UMass)
    • 28 G, 19.2 mpg, 5.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 38% FG%
  • F/C Malik Williams (Graduated)
    • 27 G, 25.1 mpg, 9.5 ppg, 8 rpg, 46% FG%

Returners

  • G El Ellis (SR)
    • 32 G, 20.5 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 1.6 apg, 36% 3P%
  • PF Sydney Curry (SR)
    • 28 G, 13.7 mpg, 7.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 67% FG%
  • PF Jae’lyn Withers (RS JR)
    • 29 G, 18.2 mpg, 5.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 41% FG%
  • PF JJ Traynor (JR)
    • 10 G, 8.2 mpg, 1.6 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 39% FG%
  • C Roosevelt Wheeler (SO)
    • 21 G, 6.5 mpg, 1.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 63% FG%

Additions

  • PG Hercy Miller (SO Transfer, Tennessee State)
    • 6 G, 10.2 mpg, 2 ppg, 0.2 apg, 0% 3P% at Tennessee State
  • G Fabio Basili (3-star FR)
  • SF Kamari Lands (4-star FR)
  • SF Michael James (4-star RS FR)
  • F Devin Ree (4-star FR)
  • F/C Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (SO Transfer, Tennessee)
    • 35 G, 12.5 mpg, 3.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 46% FG% at Tennessee

Season Outlook

After the Chris Mack era kind of surprisingly never got off the ground, Cardinals alum Kenny Payne takes over the helm, his first ever head coaching job, after spending the last decade as an assistant with Kentucky and the Knicks. Mack left him a tough rebuilding job, all things considered, though understanding that Louisville’s built-in recruiting advantages should in theory shorten the rebuild timeline.

The Cards finished a lackluster 6-14 in ACC play without a single player averaging double digit points per game. A number of key rotation players opted to transfer to other mid-to-high majors rather than give coach Payne a chance, including starting wings Noah Lock and Dre Davis, and rotational forwards Samuell Williamson and Matt Cross. With three graduations added to those losses (two rent-a-senior point guards Jarrod West and Mason Faulkner, plus the excellent-when-healthy center Malik Williams) Louisville has only a handful of players left from last year’s rotation. Payne opted to spend his recruiting energy looking for young talents with a long-term strategy in mind rather than try to bolster his rotation with instant impact transfers.

This means that El Ellis is the only experienced guard on the roster, and really only one of three natural guards overall. The former blue-chip JUCO prospect will need to excel for 35 minutes a night, both ends of the floor, if Louisville has any hope of keeping its head above water. Most likely the perimeter will go large with wing-forwards manning the other perimeter spots, with probably all three of the four-star rookies (2022s Kamari Lands and Devin Ree, plus 2021 Michael James who missed last year with a torn Achilles tendon) battling for a pair of starting positions at the 2 and 3.

The only other bright spot on the roster is Sydney Curry, another JUCO transfer last year who really exploded late in the season as a powerful post scoring presence. What kind of help he gets is to be determined, though Payne is most likely looking to face-up-forward Jae’lyn Withers and UT transfer (and former 5-star recruit) Brandon Huntley-Hatfield to rise to the occasion.

Either way, it’s too much, too soon to expect Payne to do much damage in the league this year, not with this guard situation and that little experience to work with. Louisville is playing this year to get the freshmen and sophomores ready to win more games a year or two from now, but this season will likely be a tough one in the interim.

 

#11 – Clemson

2021-22 Record: 17-16 (8-12); 10th in ACC

  • % of 2021-22 Minutes Returning: 48.1%
    • ACC Rank: 7 of 15
  • % of 2021-22 Points Returning: 51.6%
    • ACC Rank: 5 of 15

Departures

  • PG Nick Honor (Transferred to Missouri)
    • 33 G, 25.4 mpg, 7.7 ppg, 2.4 apg, 33% 3P%
  • G Al-Amir Dawes (Transferred to Seton Hall)
    • 33 G, 29.7 mpg, 11.3 ppg, 2.3 apg, 40% 3P%
  • SG David Collins (Graduated)
    • 32 G, 28.8 mpg, 10.3 ppg, 2.3 apg, 38% 3P%
  • F Naz Bohannon (Graduated)
    • 33 G, 21.2 mpg, 5.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 50% 3P%
  • Lynn Kidd (Transferred to Virginia Tech)

Returners

  • SG Chase Hunter (SR)
    • 33 G, 22.7 mpg, 6.7 ppg, 1.8 apg, 35% 3P%
  • SG Alex Hemenway (SR)
    • 31 G, 14.6 mpg, 5.2 ppg, 0.3 apg, 41% 3P%
  • PF Hunter Tyson (SR+)
    • 25 G, 25.5 mpg, 10 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 47% FG%
  • PF Ian Schieffelin (SO)
    • 30 G, 11.6 mpg, 3.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 40% FG%
  • F/C PJ Hall (JR)
    • 30 G, 27.6 mpg, 15.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 49% FG%
  • F/C Ben Middlebrooks (SO)
    • 26 G, 6.4 mpg, 1.2 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 59% FG%

Additions

  • G Brevin Galloway (SR+ Transfer, Boston College)
    • 25 G, 24.8 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 1.4 apg, 26% 3P% at Boston College
  • G Dillon Hunter (3-star FR)
  • G Joshua Beadle (3-star RS FR)
  • SF Chauncey Gibson (3-star FR)
  • F RJ Godfrey (3-star FR)
  • PF Chauncey Wiggins (3-star FR)

Season Outlook

It’s crazy to think Brad Brownell has been at Clemson for 13 seasons now, but it’s true. They’re a fairly predictable program at this point, generally NIT-quality with the occasional breakout NCAA Tournament anomaly as well as the occasional crash-and-burn, but Dabo Swinney and the football program keep the AD from worrying too much about hoops’ perpetual mediocrity.

This year looks to unfold much the same as Brownell is forced to replace his entire starting perimeter, with 5th years Nick Honor and Al-Amir Dawes opting to take their bonus years elsewhere and rent-a-senior David Collins out of eligibility. 6th year rent-a-senior Brevin Galloway, a first-off-the-bench type for a subpar Boston College team last year, may start at the point by default, with last year’s backup guards Chase Hunter and Alex Hemenway promoted to starters on the wings. None are going to scare many ACC defenses, nor do any of the rookie perimeter plays arrive with much fanfare.

PJ Hall returns to be maybe the best player on a bad team in the league, last year’s biggest breakout in the league at the 5-spot. Hunter Tyson takes his bonus year as an above average face-up-4 as well, so Clemson will continue their tradition of solid big man play headlined by Aamir Simms and Jaron Blossomgame in recent years. They’ll need backups to emerge, though, as neither the returners nor rookies have a lot of hype just yet.

Even with Hall and Tyson formidable inside, this team just doesn’t have the horses at guard to do much this year. They’ll be scrappy, as Brownell teams usually are, and maybe score a couple home upsets. But the consistently isn’t going to be there, and it’ll be another season that ends early in the ACC Tournament, maybe the NIT if things go well.