ACC in the NBA Part 1: Overall Numbers & Talent Dropoff?

Does it seem to you like the talent level in ACC men’s basketball isn’t what it used to be? Didn’t it seem like every team in the early/mid 90s had at least one legitimate NBA player and now there might be a handful in the entire league?

There are some reasons why I might think there has been a talent dropoff in the ACC. One is pure nostalgia, you can often remember things being a lot better “back in the day” then they actually were. Perhaps the NBA has changed over the years where the potential and upside of high school players, one-and-done players and foreign players have been given more weight than the experience of a college senior. There has been the rise of the mid-major programs, talented players no longer have to play at a big name school to get national exposure and can get immediate playing time. Maybe the caliber of coaching in the ACC is not what it once was. Or more than likely, it is a combination of all those things and perhaps others.

So being a guy that likes to play around with sports stats, I thought I’d research some numbers and see what I could find out. I’m planning on having three entries, one on the ACC and NBA players in general (the entry you are reading now), one on the All-ACC first team and one on the ACC Player of the Year (although bear with me, there may be some time between entries as the other 2 aren’t done yet).

I looked at stats for only the ACC time period (I did not include pre-ACC Southern Conference players) and only for the time each school was an ACC member (for South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Florida St, Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech).

I needed some way to determine if an ACC player went on to have a successful NBA career (or ABA career for players in the late 60s and 70s). I’ve seen various formulas you can use to rate players but with over 50 years worth of players over 13 different schools, doing something like that would be an undertaking. So I decided to use the simple metric of averaging double figure points for a player’s career. It is certainly not ideal, as solid NBA players like State’s Nate McMillan or Clemson’s Dale Davis for example don’t meet my criteria. It also may affect younger players, like State’s J.J. Hickson or Carolina’s Ty Lawson that are early in their NBA careers and still have time to get their career scoring average up. But overall, I figured if you scored in double digits over your entire career in the pros, you were probably a pretty good player and had a successful career.

Overall – 1954 to 2009
If I didn’t miss anybody and is correct, there have been 296 ACC players that played in the pros (NBA and/or ABA). Even though the current NBA season has just started, the player lists and stats are from the end of the 2009-2010 basketball season. Here are the number of players from each ACC school:
• North Carolina – 70
• Duke – 49
• Maryland – 35
• NC State – 33
• Georgia Tech – 30
• Wake Forest – 26
• Virginia – 17
• Clemson – 14
• Florida St – 10
• South Carolina – 7
• Boston College – 3
• Miami – 2
• Virginia Tech – 0

Of those 296 players, 25% of them (74 players) averaged double figure points over their entire pro career:
• North Carolina – 24
• Duke – 16
• Maryland – 7
• Clemson – 4
• NC State – 4
• Wake Forest – 4
• Florida St – 2
• South Carolina – 2
• Virginia – 2
• Boston College – 0
• Miami – 0
• Virginia Tech – 0

The four NC State players are David Thompson (22.7), Kenny Carr (11.6), Thurl Bailey (12.8) and Tom Gugliotta (13.0).

By Decade
First I want to share some overall numbers by decade and then break down each decade.

1950s: 8 pros, 1 double digit scorer (12.5%)
1960s: 32 pros, 11 double digit scorers (34.4%)
1970s: 44 pros, 12 double digit scorers (27.3%)
1980s: 62 pros, 16 double digit scorers (25.8%)
1990s: 81 pros, 21 double digit scorers (25.9%)
2000s: 69 pros, 13 double digit scorers (18.8%)

While the decade of the 2000s produced the 2nd highest number of pro players, it also produced the 2nd lowest percentage of double digit scorers and lowest since the partial decade of the 1950s. While the percentage of double digit scorers remained in the 25-35% range from the 1960s through the 1990s, there has been a dropoff in the 2000s down to 18.8%. The 2000s also produced 12 less NBA players than the 1990s.

Again, some of the younger players still have time to improve their careers and that number may go up in the future. But that does tell me that this past decade has not produced as many immediate impact NBA players that come in right away and start scoring.

As noted above, from 2000 to 2009 the ACC produced 69 NBA players. Duke had the most with 14, followed by North Carolina with 13 and Georgia Tech with 10. NC State produced 5 NBA players over this time period (Anthony Grundy, Julius Hodge, Josh Powell, Cedric Simmons and J.J. Hickson).

Thirteen of those 69 players (18.8%) have a career double digit scoring average. They are:
• Carlos Boozer, Duke – 17.2
• Mike Dunleavy, Duke – 12.2
• Luol Deng, Duke – 15.8
• Al Thornton, Florida St – 13.3
• Chris Bosh, Georgia Tech – 20.2
• Jarrett Jack, Georgia Tech – 10.6
• Thaddeus Young, Georgia Tech – 12.5
• Anthony Morrow, Georgia Tech – 11.6
• Raymond Felton, North Carolina – 13.3
• Rashad McCants, North Carolina – 10.0
• Marvin Williams, North Carolina – 11.9
• Josh Howard, Wake Forest – 15.3
• Chris Paul, Wake Forest – 19.3

Duke, Georgia Tech and North Carolina produced 53.6% of the ACC’s NBA players in the 2000s and 76.9% of the double digit scorers. Virginia Tech was the only ACC school to not produce an NBA player. The other 11 schools produced at least 2 NBA players and 5 schools produced a double digit scorer.

From 1990 to 1999 the ACC produced 81 NBA players. North Carolina had the most with 16, followed by Duke and Georgia Tech with 13. NC State produced 6 NBA players over this time period (Chris Corchiani, Brian Howard, Rodney Monroe, Tom Gugliotta, Kevin Thompson and Todd Fuller).

Twenty-one of those 81 players (25.9%) have a career double digit scoring average. They are:
• Elden Campbell, Clemson – 10.3
• Christian Laettner, Duke – 12.8
• Grant Hill, Duke – 17.8
• Elton Brand, Duke – 19.3
• Corey Maggette, Duke – 16.6
• Sam Cassell, Florida St – 15.7
• Dennis Scott, Georgia Tech – 12.9
• Kenny Anderson, Georgia Tech – 12.6
• Stephon Marbury, Georgia Tech – 19.3
• Matt Harpring, Georgia Tech – 11.5
• Walt Williams, Maryland – 11.8
• Joe Smith, Maryland – 11.0
• Steve Francis, Maryland – 18.1
• Tom Gugliotta, NC State – 13.0
• Jerry Stackhouse, North Carolina – 18.0
• Rasheed Wallace, North Carolina – 14.6
• Vince Carter, North Carolina – 22.9
• Antawn Jamison, North Carolina – 19.8
• Bryant Stith, Virginia – 10.1
• Rodney Rogers, Wake Forest – 10.9
• Tim Duncan, Wake Forest – 21.1

Again, the top 3 schools of Duke, Georgia Tech and North Carolina produced over half (51.9%) of the ACC’s NBA players in the 1990s but only 57.1% of the double digit scorers compared to 76.9% in the 2000s. All 9 ACC schools produced at least 4 NBA players and at least one double digit scorer.

From 1980 to 1989 the ACC produced 62 NBA players. North Carolina had the most with 13, followed by NC State with 12 (Hawkeye Whitney, Chuck Nevitt, Thurl Bailey, Sidney Lowe, Lorenzo Charles, Spud Webb, Nate McMillan, Cozell McQueen, Chris Washburn, Vinny Del Negro, Charles Shackleford and Chucky Brown).

Sixteen of those 62 players (25.8%) have a career double digit scoring average. They are:
• Larry Nance, Clemson – 17.1
• Horace Grant, Clemson – 11.2
• Mike Gminski, Duke – 11.7
• Gene Banks, Duke – 11.3
• Johnny Dawkins, Duke – 11.1
• Mark Price, Georgia Tech – 15.2
• Albert King, Maryland – 12.1
• Buck Williams, Maryland – 12.8
• Thurl Bailey, NC State – 12.8
• Al Wood, North Carolina – 11.8
• James Worthy, North Carolina – 17.6
• Michael Jordan, North Carolina – 30.1
• Sam Perkins, North Carolina – 11.9
• Brad Daugherty, North Carolina – 19.0
• Kenny Smith, North Carolina – 12.8
• Ralph Sampson, Virginia – 15.4

Other than Clemson with 2 NBA players, the other 8 ACC schools produced at least 6 NBA players and every school but Wake Forest produced at least one double digit scorer.

From 1970 to 1979 the ACC produced 44 NBA/ABA players. North Carolina had the most with 16, followed by Maryland with 9. NC State had 5 pro players (Vann Williford, Tom Burleson, David Thompson, Monte Towe and Kenny Carr).

Twelve of those 44 players (27.3%) have a career double digit scoring average. They are:
• Randy Denton, Duke – 11.5
• John Lucas, Maryland – 10.7
• David Thompson, NC State – 22.7
• Kenny Carr, NC State – 11.6
• Charlie Scott, North Carolina – 20.7
• Bob McAdoo, North Carolina – 22.1
• Bobby Jones, North Carolina – 12.1
• Mitch Kupchak, North Carolina – 10.2
• Walter Davis, North Carolina – 18.9
• Phil Ford, North Carolina – 11.6
• Tom Owens, South Carolina – 11.3
• John Roche, South Carolina – 11.2

Every ACC school produced at least 2 NBA/ABA players. Clemson, Virginia and Wake Forest did not produce a double digit scorer.

From 1960 to 1969 the ACC produced 32 NBA/ABA players. Duke and North Carolina had the most with 9. NC State had 2 pro players (Ken Rohloff & Eddie Biedenbach).

Eleven of those 32 players (34.4%) have a career double digit scoring average. They are:
• Randolph Mahaffey, Clemson – 11.9
• Art Heyman, Duke – 13.0
• Jeff Mullins, Duke – 16.2
• Jack Marin, Duke – 14.8
• Bob Verga, Duke – 20.2
• Mike Lewis, Duke – 12.1
• Lee Shaffer, North Carolina – 16.8
• Billy Cunningham, North Carolina – 21.2
• Larry Brown, North Carolina – 11.2
• Doug Moe, North Carolina – 16.3
• Larry Miller, North Carolina – 13.6

Every ACC school but Virginia produced at least 1 NBA/ABA player. Duke and North Carolina had 10 of the 11 double digit scorers.

From 1954 to 1959 the ACC produced 8 NBA players. NC State and North Carolina had the most with 3 (Ronnie Shavlik, Whitey Bell & John Richter) while Maryland and Wake Forest had 1 each.

One of those 8 players (12.5%) has a career double digit scoring average:
• Gene Shue, Maryland – 14.4

After looking at these players and their stats, there are a few points that come to mind. It does appear that the number of ACC players that go on to have a solid, productive NBA career has diminished over the past decade. It also appears to me that the double digit career scorers from the 80s and 90s contain more NBA stars and hall of fame candidates than the ACC players from the past 10 years.

To no surprise, North Carolina has been the consistant top school throughout the history of the ACC in producing both quantity and quality of NBA players.

Over the past 20 years, the axis of NBA caliber players has revolved around Chapel Hill, Durham and Atlanta. From this perspective, Georgia Tech had the 3rd best talent level in the conference but I don’t know if you would consider them the 3rd most successful ACC program over the last 20 years (Maryland perhaps?). This points to the fact that a lot of those talented players didn’t stay at Georgia Tech for more than a year or two.

As I mentioned above, I am planning on 2 more entries focusing on the All-ACC 1st team and the ACC player of the year since those players are supposed to be the cream of the crop. Those entries are both still works in progress but look for them at some point.

Do you think the talent level in the ACC is on the decline? Based on the numbers, why aren’t there as many successful NBA alumni as in years past? Is this an ACC issue, an NBA issue or both? I’d love to hear the thoughts and opinions of SFN’s readers on this topic as well as any other observations and conclusions.

About WV Wolf

Graduated from NCSU in 1996 with a degree in statistics. Born and inbred in West "By God" Virginia and now live in Raleigh where I spend my time watching the Wolfpack, the Mountaineers and the Carolina Hurricanes as well as making bar graphs for SFN. I'm @wvncsu on the Twitter machine.

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24 Responses to ACC in the NBA Part 1: Overall Numbers & Talent Dropoff?

  1. GoldenChain 12/16/2010 at 12:46 PM #

    Great info WVa.
    So what you’re saying in a nutshell is that State is suxing hind tit in a sinking conference?

  2. BJD95 12/16/2010 at 1:17 PM #

    Just awesome work! I also struggle with how to objectify my “feeling” that things just aren’t nearly as high quality as they were in the 80s and 90s (I don’t remember anything hoops wise from the 70s).

    One factor is the HUGE coaching dropoff after the top programs. Without the best minds, it’s hard to mount an effective challenge (which I also think hurts the lead dogs come tourney time).

    But that doesn’t fully explain the talent drain, either.

  3. MP 12/16/2010 at 1:25 PM #

    Excellent post. I think you touched on something in your opening paragraphs about “exposure” from other schools and conferences being a factor. I think this is a factor – my gut feeling is that if you could plot this data on a graph against overall TV exposure of college basketball, the ACC’s declining impact would correlate. The ACC was awesome in decades before the explosion of cable TV and access to games, and I think that the coaching fraternity, mystique, and reputation provided by that more insular period of time helped the ACC retain its dominant position. TV has watered down everything and this includes the impact of talking heads telling the world who is supposed to be good (i.e. UNC/DUKE) and not (anyone else) as mentioned on other posts.

  4. Andy 12/16/2010 at 1:53 PM #

    When did high school players start going pro? 1995? Would be interesting to look at the 10 years before/after that shift.

  5. VaWolf82 12/16/2010 at 2:28 PM #

    Moses Malone went straight to the pros when I was in junior high. That was WAAAAAAAAAAY before 1995.

  6. VaWolf82 12/16/2010 at 2:32 PM #

    VT-0? From Wikipedia:

    Del Curry was selected 15th overall by the Utah Jazz in the 1986 NBA Draft after attending Virginia Tech. He played one season in Utah before moving on to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1987 for another season. He was selected by one of the NBA’s two newest teams for the 1988-89 season, the Charlotte Hornets, in the expansion draft after he was made available by the Cavaliers. In Charlotte, Curry was primarily used off the bench where he was utilized as an instant scoring threat, especially from behind the three-point line. He played ten seasons for the Hornets…

  7. 61Packer 12/16/2010 at 2:39 PM #

    I see three things going on here. Number one is the NBA, which grabs every talented and potentially talented player they can get their hands on, as soon as they can. If they were patient enough to wait just a year or two in many cases, they’d get better, more mature players who had established a college fan base that would translate to more fans for that particular NBA team.

    Number three is the quality of the coaches being hired nowadays in the ACC and many other leagues. They’re being hired primarily on their anticipated ability to recruit, not on their ability to coach. Right now the ACC has 3 outstanding coaches in K, Roy and Gary, and Bennett at UVA shows promise. But the other 8 range from mediocre to just plain awful, with absolutely no sign they’ll ever get better.

    And number two is the college administrators who are responsible, through their awful ADs, for the even more awful coaching hires of late. As long as college heads can put a like-minded bureaucrat in the AD chair who can pipeline the money away from athletic coffers into administrative ones instead, that’s the main thing. No better example anywhere exists than the one that played out for nearly two decades right in our back yard, and if Fox wasn’t able to clean up the first mess, do we really think Yow can clean up the second one?

  8. WV Wolf 12/16/2010 at 2:39 PM #

    I only looked at ACC players, Dell Curry did not play in the ACC. Since VT has joined the conference they haven’t put any players in the NBA.

  9. RegularExpression 12/16/2010 at 4:06 PM #

    Here is an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal of all places:

    The ACC Sucks

    To summarize, there have only been 4 weeks since 1977 that the ACC only had one team ranked. Guess how many of those weeks have come this year? Three. And that is with 12 teams. Basically the ACC has plumbed new depths.

    I agree with the sentiment about lack of coaching in this league. There is certainly the perception of Duke/Carolina and the 10 dwarves, and I have to wonder how much that hurts in coaching searches. Why come to the ACC and play 3rd fiddle when you can join another league and be the man?

  10. fullmoon1 12/16/2010 at 4:48 PM #

    Another interesting sidenote is how the nba player has changed drasticly. They have bulked up considerably and the physical look of a player now as opposed to 10 years ago is amazingly different. I still contend the NBA would be better off with players having completed 4 years developing in college. What are the foreign contries doing different that their player has such a high basketball iq, and maturity level seemingly. If I was a college coach I think I would have to look at the euro model for some pointers.

  11. wufpup76 12/16/2010 at 4:48 PM #

    Many factors – but some to me are the NBA, AAU, Espn, horrible college coaching, and the youth movement.

    The NBA decided to market “stars” first and foremost. Being a star in the NBA trumps anything else – team, city, etc. In it’s quest to find the next one, the Association values potential and raw talent over anything else.

    Espn went right along with this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming Espn – they’ve got to show highlights – but what do they focus on? They focus on individual performance and stats – not team play nor team results. How many times have you seen highlights of an NBA game on Espn and they focus on the guy who scored 50 points – yet his team lost? And they barely / briefly mention that his team lost.

    Young people see this. They want to be a star. It’s all about them. Along comes stuff like AAU. Guess what the focus is there? First and foremost, it’s about how “coaches” can latch on to a player and thus be an agent / college assistant / player “handler”. Secondly, it’s about highlighting premier players – not teams. Ok – to a certain extent that’s fine – you’ve got to stand out if you want to be recruited / noticed. But fundamentals and team play are just about down the drain now.

    And college coaching more-or-less sucks now. It’s all about recruiters, not coaching. Where do the recruits come from? The backwards ass system that’s in place. It’s my opinion that the NBA is as ass-backwards as it gets when it comes to priorities, integrity, legitimacy, etc. That does filter down. It seems that most “big” programs are little more than farm systems for the Association. The only real exceptions I can think of are Duke and Coach K and Maryland with Gary Williams. Great coaches, great programs (ok maybe not Maryland so much – but nobody outworks Gary Williams and not many outwork his teams).

    Want actual college basketball now? The mid and low-majors are where it’s at now. That’s why I was altogether thrilled and not very surprised at all when George Mason made their Final Four (with a whipping of Hansjob/Unx and UConvict along the way). Those teams work together and work hard and out-execute everyone because they have to. What do you see in the big conferences now? Wannabe showtime drek with Dickie V spouting off about how special all these diaper dandies are. Meanwhile the basketball is about as ugly as it gets. “Just roll the ball out there. We’ll win. We’ve arrived. I think you hear us coming.”

    Yeah, and I don’t like how it sounds at all.

  12. novawolf 12/16/2010 at 5:05 PM #

    Great job WV. I would agree with your premise that there are less ACC players making it to the NBA…except from Duke and UNC guys. I think MP hit it on the head with his exposure comments. We get bombarded by ESPN with this “greatest rivalry in sport” crap. Checking the TV schedule UNC/Duke games against Evansville, Long Beach State, William & Mary, Princeton, Colgate are televised nationally by ESPN/CBS/ABC, while the rest of the ACC can’t get any coverage unless playing Duke/UNC. Other conferences spread the coverage…in the ACC Duke/Carolina get the coverage. It’s not a coincidence that the other ACC schools get a bigtime prospect here or there and either Duke or Carolina has more A-As than the rest of the ACC combined. Bigtime recruits know TV. In the other conferences, the recruits are dispersed…in the ACC it gets localized.

    Regards players making the NBA and who had double figure careers, let me suggest this…If my memory serves me correctly, 11 of the 13 in the 2000s were high school All-Americans (Josh Howard wasn’t/I’m not sure about Anthony Morrow). In the 1990s, 17 of the 21 were A-As (Campbell, Cassell, Gugliotta, and possibly Francis were not). In the 1980s, 12 of 16 were A-As (Nance, Grant, Gminski may not have been). Note that State’s most recent NBA guys were A-As (Hickson, Hodge, Powell). That A-As coming in makes NBA players going out shouldn’t come as a surprise. Talent and hard work make NBA players. As long as Roy and K get the A-As, people will think they’re great coaches, even when they lay an egg.

  13. fullmoon1 12/16/2010 at 5:17 PM #

    Good point about the focus on stars^. Anyone remeber in Kobe’s and I think Lebron’s also where they would break scoring records and the team would still lose?

  14. ryebread 12/16/2010 at 6:37 PM #

    “Kids are different today, I hear every mother say……”

    While it is easy to blame it all on the kids, I don’t think that’s the case. They’re the same as they’ve always been. Human nature doesn’t fundamentally shift. People will take exactly up to what you’ll give them.

    The product on the court in the ACC in the last 5 years has clearly declined. Anyone who remembers the Duke/Maryland struggles in the early 2000s knows that there’s nothing like that happening now in the league. I don’t necessarily need the stats above to prove it, but I do appreciate the effort and the topic.

    As to the question of why, I attribute it to the following:
    1) The constant propping up of Duke and UNC by the ACC front office. I think the referring, the hype machine, etc. shields these two and creates “Duke/UNC and the 10 dwarves.” I think that makes it tough for the other schools to attract good players and coaches, which brings me to point #2.

    2) Poor coaching. I’ve harped on this before, but if I look up and down the league right now, I see very few programs at or near their high water marks in coaching. Here’s my break down, both of quality of staffs in the league and then against the school’s historical quality:
    – Duke: Though I don’t think they’re as good without Dawkins and Snyder, they’re at or near their high water mark historically and clearly better than any other staff in the league.
    – Maryland: Gary’s hand’s down the best game coach in the league. His staff isn’t what it once was though and his recruiting is way off. Again with Duke, they’re down against where they were coaching wise at the beginning of the decade.
    – UNC: Dean set a high standard, but Roy and staff are clearly better than the last two staffs at UNC. Still, the fact that UNC is only 3rd in the league as a coaching staff says something to me.
    – UVA: Here’s where the line of unproven coaches starts. Yes, we really only have 3 known commodities in the league. Of the unknowns, I’m going to say a guy who has won the national coach of the year award is probably the best. I think Bennett is probably above UVA’s average. Good hire by UVA and thus good for the league. Bravo!
    – FSU: Yikes.. Leonard Hamilton is the 5th best coach in our league? Sadly, the results suggest it. I think he’s probably above average for FSU, but FSU’s history in the ACC is short. I also think a Bobby Sura lead FSU team would smoke the ones Leonard Hamilton has trotted out the last couple of years.
    – VT: Yikes part 2. Yes, it’s better than their historical coaching, but they’ve not historically been in the ACC. They were bottom of the pack in the Big East. The fact that one of the most over achieving staffs in the league still can’t figure out how to punch a dance ticket is extremely concerning.

    The rest of the schools either have coaches that I think are promising but who are too new in their roles to judge (BC, Clemson), have coaches that are well below the historical averages of their school (NC State, GT) and are sitting on warm seats, or have coaches that I think are just plain bad (WF and Miami) and don’t seem to be going anywhere.

    3) No double round robin. Unbalanced scheduling has hurt the league. Along these same lines, expansion was done to raise the status of football. I think that effort has hurt the focus on basketball. This is a basketball league and Swofford and crew sure as heck need to figure that out.

    4) Recruitment of 1 and done players. In an attempt to load up on talent and make a quick splash, coaches aren’t building programs. Instead they’re going after the elite recruits who then bolt, hoping they can ride them to the next kid. This was the GT model in the 90s under Cremins. In college basketball, where you only need 6-8 kids who play well together, a tough, savvy, veteran team who has played a lot together in a system will beat a bunch of more talented freshman (see Wisconsin/NC State for a great recent example). I think this is why VT has had such success in the league — they can’t get the one and done kid and don’t try. They go after the four year kids. Most ACC schools do not though (NC State included).

    5) Officiating. Fouls in league play just aren’t called like the tournament is called. I’ve watched countless ACC teams get thugged out of the big dance. The Big East and Big 10 embrace this and that’s why they’re beating us head to head in the tournament. Win in the tournament, get better kids…….

    6) Shifts in television and ESPN. Now, kids don’t have to go to an elite school to be on TV. Also, ESPN is hyping the Big East more than the ACC. Those things impact recruiting, create more parity and shift the balance of power towards the Big East.

  15. Rick 12/16/2010 at 7:45 PM #

    Great info.
    I wonder how the influx of foreign players affects the number of pros the ACC sends.

  16. DC_wolf 12/16/2010 at 9:22 PM #

    Jiminy Cremins, WV Wolf, great job… I appreciate the time & effort in putting this together, & look forward to the next 2 in the series.

    I think everyone here has touched on @ least 1 good reason why and that’s because there are MANY reasons for the current decline; however I think MP and wufpup nailed it, you can sum it up in 1 four-letter profanity: ESPN. You no longer need to go to a program with presumed prestige or allure if you can go dancing with Butler, George Mason, Gonzaga, etc., make a deep run & end up on their late night highlight package.

    Oh, & WV Wolf, I’m already feelin’ for ya on the 28th… 😉

  17. WV Wolf 12/16/2010 at 10:21 PM #

    Thanks DC_wolf, this bowl game will not be an easy game for me to watch. Although I will have bragging rights somewhere…

    Lots of great comments so far, just the stuff I was looking for. Some really good insights.

    I have found over the years that I don’t watch ACC basketball as much as I used to. When I was in school I would tune into FSU vs Clemson because FSU had Ward, Sura and Cassell and Sharone Wright might tear down the goal for the Tigers. What reason do I have to watch FSU vs Clemson now?

  18. novawolf 12/17/2010 at 12:03 AM #

    Regards WV’s questions, Does it seem to you like the talent level in ACC men’s basketball isn’t what it used to be? Didn’t it seem like every team in the early/mid 90s had at least one legitimate NBA player and now there might be a handful in the entire league?

    I would suggest that coaching would not be a major factor. Talent and hard work of the individual are much more important than coaching. Case in point, WV listed players making the NBA and who had double figure careers. If my memory serves me correctly, 11 of the 13 in the 2000s were high school All-Americans (Josh Howard wasn’t/not sure about Anthony Morrow). In the 1990s, 17 of the 21 were HS A-As (Campbell, Cassell, Gugliotta, and possibly Francis were not). In the 1980s, 12 of 16 were HS A-As (Nance, Grant, Gminski may not have been). Note that State’s most recent NBA guys were A-As (Hickson, Hodge, Powell). Could we really conclude that coaching is what put the cream of the HS crop into the NBA? I’d even bet that the schools with the most A-As and supposedly the best coaches (Duke and UNC) put the same or a lower percentage of their HS A-As than the “lesser” coaches into the NBA. But as long as Roy and K get the most A-As, people will give them more credit than they probably deserve. And let’s not glorify some good old days for coaches in the ACC. Clemson is 0 for Chapel Hill. UVA, GaTech, and UMD don’t have 5 ACC championships between them. State, Duke, and UNC are in double digits, even though we haven’t won one in 20 years.

    I would agree with the premise that there are less ACC players making it to the NBA…except from Duke and UNC guys. And in the old days they came from throughout the league. I’d agree that ESPN and the networks, in conjunction with how the ACC offices allow the networks to promote the ACC, are much more a cause of the lower talent from the other schools than is coaching. We get bombarded with this “greatest rivalry in sport” crap. We get sub-par announcers from Duke/UNC in the broadcast booth (Jay Williams, Hubert Davis, Brad Daugherty). And checking the TV schedule for this year, UNC/Duke games against Evansville, Long Beach State, William & Mary, Princeton, and Colgate are televised nationally by ESPN/CBS/ABC, while the rest of the ACC can’t get coverage unless playing Duke/UNC. For schools in close proximity to Duke/UNC (NCSU, Wake, UVA),who must recruit nationally to be competitive, that’s a kiss of death. In the Big East, Big Ten, SEC,big time recruits have 6 to 10 viable options…in the ACC it seems we have two. It’s not a coincidence that Duke/UNC have more HS A-As each, than the rest of the ACC combined. Bigtime recruits know TV. Go to any high school in Northern Virgnia, you have more Duke/UNC athletic gear than VaTech/Maryland/UVA. Not that I’m willing to give Sid/Hank/Gary a free pass, but coaching against the school and the national media is not an easy job. I guess that’s why they get paid the big bucks.

  19. Rick 12/17/2010 at 10:12 AM #

    “I would suggest that coaching would not be a major factor. Talent and hard work of the individual are much more important than coaching”

    I disagree. The coaching is way down. There are only three great coaches in the ACC and two of them win all the titles.

  20. tjfoose1 12/17/2010 at 10:18 AM #

    Good stuff.

    Might want to consider a metric which takes into account the total number of roster spots available (NBA+ABA) during the specific time periods, obviously plays a role in the total # of ACC pros.

    Perhaps in addition to total number of pros, you could include ACC’s % of roster spots? Might be tricky with that number not being consistent, but I have faith you’d come up w/ a rolling average or something.

  21. tjfoose1 12/17/2010 at 10:25 AM #

    Three reasons why the ACC is longer THE ACC…

    Coaching – self explanatory

    ESPN – expanded and saturated coverage of other leagues and team.


  22. VaWolf82 12/17/2010 at 12:08 PM #

    I would like hear the explanation for how adding more teams TO the ACC somehow resulted in having fewer NBA players FROM the ACC.

  23. Gene 12/17/2010 at 1:56 PM #

    One thing that’s not mentioned is how much more contracted the basketball draft is versus what it was in the 1980’s and 1970’s. You had several rounds and now you have only two rounds. You no longer have a player taken 100th over all. That’s cut down on the number of young players NBA is actually willing to invest in or take a look at.

    I think another major change is for whatever reason high school kids are NBA ready at 18. Dwight Howard and Lebron James really didn’t take much time to become good NBA players. Way back in the 1990’s, it took Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant 3-4 years before they really developed into superstars.

    Back when Moses went to the ABA from high school, a few other players tried to follow his example, like “Chocolate Thunder”(great nickname) Darryl Dawkins, but none came close to having his success.

    Finally, staying in college doesn’t seem to help these players. There’s just some sort of natural ability that makes great players great. When Dwight Howard was drafted number 1 overall, there was a debate between him and the UConn player, who had graduated in 3 years, about who should be number 1 over all. The UConn player has had a nice NBA career, but he is nowhere near as dominant as Howard is.

    I think one thing that’s hurt the talent level is where as you once had an era where the David Thompson’s, Ralph Sampson’s, etc. of the world would play 4 years and you could build a squad around them, these players are clearly going to go pro after a year and would by-pass college all together, if not for the one-and-done rule.

    The established ACC coaches do not want to get into the realm of dealing with a bunch of one-and-done players, unlike say Kentucky right now, with maybe the exception of Paul Hewitt.

    These are the coaches, who can usually attract what was once the top players in the country, who would most likely become the most NBA ready. They aren’t going after these players now. They are going after good players, who will stay with the program 2-4 years and might not be as lights out as a John Wall or Kevin Durant.

    The NBA goes after raw talent, so the players that actually play a lot in the ACC are no longer what the NBA wants to have on its roster. Add to this the contracted NBA draft and there just isn’t an incentive for NBA teams to look at good veteran college players.

  24. WV Wolf 12/17/2010 at 3:54 PM #

    Thanks again for the great discussion in the comments. Some really good insights.

    So how come we see this stuff but Swofford doesn’t? I guess as long as you get the cash from ESPN and Raycom who cares what the product looks like.

    And I totally agree with all of the comments on the league promoting Dook and UNCheat over everybody else. If the Big East had decided in 1990 to hitch their wagon to say Georgetown and Syracuse and have everybody else play 2nd fiddle, that league would not be what it is today which is probably the toughest conference (although having 47 teams helps some with that)

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