With what we hope will be the start of the 2020-21 college basketball season this week, the NBA draft gave us a chance to look back at last year. Once again the Atlantic Coast Conference did very well in getting players drafted into the league. A total of eight players were chosen by night’s end. Duke, with three players chosen, and Florida State with a pair, were the two schools in the conference with more than one player selected. From 2014-20, the ACC has had 45 first-round selections that leads all college basketball conferences. With two getting picked in the lottery portion of the draft, the ACC now has 30 players taken in the last 11 years as lottery selections. Since 1996, the league has provided the NBA with 55 players taken in the Top-15. That too is the most of any conference in the country. Here is a look at the eight players that were taken last Wednesday night.
The Duke Blue Devils had three players whose names were called Wednesday night. All three were drafted in the second round. The first name that was called was Vernon Carey Jr. He was the 32nd pick overall by the Charlotte Hornets. The conference’s freshman of the year posted 15 double-doubles last season which was second in both the league and the NCAA for freshmen. Ten of his double-doubles were of the 20 points, 10 rebound variety. He ranked in the Top-10 in the league in scoring (17-8 ppg), rebounding (8.0), field goal percentage (.577). and blocked shots (1.6). The next name heard was guard Tre Jones. He went 41st overall to the San Antonio Spurs. Jones was coming off a great season that saw him named both the League Player of the Year and Defense Player of the Year. He was also named second-team All- American by the AP. Jones is just the second player in league history to be both the player of the year and defensive player of the year in the same season. His numbers of 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.8 steals give you a good idea why. The third name called was Cassius Stanley taken 54th by the Indiana Pacers. Stanley made 29 starts for Duke and he was an All-Freshman choice averaging 12.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
The big ACC winners on the night were the Florida State Seminoles. Both of their players taken ended up being lottery picks It’s the first time since 1993 that a pair was selected in the first round of the draft, Patrick Williams was the fourth overall pick by the Chicago Bulls. Williams was named the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year averaging 9.2 points, four boards, and one steal per game. He also led the team in blocked shots at 1.1 per game in 29 contests. He made the league’s All-Freshman team. The next man up was Devin Vassell taken with the 11th pick by the Spurs. Devin averaged a career-high in both points with 12.7 a game and in rebounds with 5.1 in 30 games played. He also set career highs in steals at 1.4, and in blocks at just under one a game. During his two seasons at Florida State, Vassell led the Seminoles to an overall record of 55-13 and a conference mark of 29-9.
Others who were picked in the draft were North Carolina guard Cole Anthony, the 15th pick of the Orlando Magic. He led the Tar Heels in scoring at 18.5 a game. That was the second-highest average by a North Carolina freshman in school history. Anthony scored in double-figures in 19 of his 22 games played. He had one 30 point night and eight 20 plus point nights. Elijah Hughes of Syracuse was the 39th overall pick in the second round by New Orleans. Hughes led the league in scoring at 19 a game, field goal attempts with 465, and minutes played with 1,175. He scored in double figures in 30 of the 32 games played, 15 of which were 20 or more points. Hughes had one game in which he dropped 33. He was named to both the NABC and USBWA all-district teams.
Louisville had a second-round pick in forward Jordan Nwora. He averaged 18 points, 7.7 boards, and 1.3 assists. He earned second-team All-American honors from the AP and first-team All-ACC. He was also a finalist for the Julius Erving Award.
All these players have the chance to go on and have solid professional careers. We wish them all the best.
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