06/25/09 — OPINION- ACC may have 'ho hum' night

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OPINION- ACC may have 'ho hum' night

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on June 25, 2009 1:46 PM

The list of former Atlantic Coast Conference basketball stars who have gone on to storied NBA careers reads nearly as long as the list of ACC greats who have been NBA busts.

With the 2009 NBA draft scheduled for tonight, this year's list of entries from the ACC isn't expected to make an All-Star team or compete for an MVP trophy anytime soon.

Duke product Gerald Henderson, the highest projected ACC player in this year's draft is touted by most so-called experts as a top-10 pick. However, at 6-foot-5, Henderson would be an undersized shooting guard or small forward.

He averaged 16.5 points per game this past season, but has shown inconsistency with his jump shot and has more career turnovers than assists. His ability to create his own shot off the dribble and play solid man-to-man defense could make him a serviceable player off someone's bench.

Tyler Hansbrough, one of the more decorated collegiate athletes in recent memory, is expected to land somewhere in the top-15 tonight. A former national player of the year, Hansbrough possesses a willingness to hustle and outwork an opponent that can't be taught.

Hansbrough's shooting touch from 15 to 16 feet along with his free throw shooting, rebounding and defensive abilities make him an attractive commodity to NBA general managers. At 6-8, he lacks the size to be a typical NBA power forward or the athleticism to transition to small forward.

Wake Forest's James Johnson and Jeff Teague along with North Carolina's Ty Lawson are each projected to be chosen somewhere in the top 20. Despite being just 6-8, Johnson has shown good strength and athleticism along with a 7-1 wingspan during his time in Winston-Salem. To be successful at the next level he'll need to improve upon his 69-percent free throw shooting and questionable shot selection.

A quick point guard, Teague is an explosive scorer that can be difficult to contain in the open court. He's also shown a tendency to shy away from open shots late in games and at 6-2 could struggle to defend bigger guards in the NBA.

A speedy point guard with excellent floor vision, Lawson can be tough to cover. At just six feet, defending larger NBA guards could be tough and he'll need to improve a streaky mid-range jump shot.

North Carolina's Wayne Ellington, a likely top-25 selection, is one of the best shooters in this draft class and has displayed good shot selection. Ellington hasn't shown a great ability to get to the basket and shot less than three free throws a game last season. With his willingness to be a role player, Ellington could fit in well on a winning team.

Toney Douglas, a talented combo guard from Florida State, is also projected as a top-25 draft pick. Douglas takes contact well, can create off the dribble and consistently knocks down jump shots. Douglas doesn't possess the playmaking ability or size to assume a full time role at either guard spot.

Danny Green (UNC), Tyrese Rice (Boston College) and Courtney Fells are all seen as late second-round picks.

The ACC should be well represented tonight, but that doesn't necessarily mean this will be one of the more memorable drafts for one of college basketball's elite conferences.