Starting today, Big Duke Balls presents a new off-season feature…the ACC’s Top-25 players for the upcoming season. Now I’m not saying these 25 will be the best future NBA stars the ACC has to offer. When all these players’ careers are over, I’m not saying player #10 will be better than whoever I pick as player #20. I’m just saying for this season coming up, these are my picks for the top-25 in the ACC.
Today we’ll start with #25 and each day (excluding weekends), I’ll give you one player until we get to #1. Enjoy.
No. 25 – IMAN SHUMPERT, GUARD – GEORGIA TECH
In 2010-2011, Georgia Tech will be all about the guards, thanks to the graduation of Peacock and the early departure of Favors and Lawal. Fact is, the Yellow Jackets will probably be starting three sophomores and a freshman to go along with (Junior) Shumpert next year. Things could get ugly down in Atlanta.
Of course, it will help that Shumpert will probably be the most experienced “junior” in the conference next year. He’s been starting since he stepped on campus, logging just over 30 minutes per game for his career. That’s a lot of playing time.
The reality is, at 6’4, he’s not really a true point guard and it shows at times. He’s had a tendency to just dribble around like a lost puppie, going long stretches without getting the ball inside to Tech’s best players. Having said that, with Glen Rice Jr at the two-guard spot, Shumpert will remain at the point.
So far, he’s developed a solid reputation as a stud lock-down defender (already 17th all-time in steals at Georgia Tech). He’s often asked to guard the opponent’s best guard/forward. He shut down Oklahoma State’s James Anderson last year in the first round of the NCAA tournament, holding one of the nation’s most dynamic scorers to three baskets on 12 attempts.
The question is, can he be a shooter?
He better be. Fact is, with so much of Tech’s talent headed to the NBA, Paul Hewitt will need more than just a defender from his most experienced player and point guard. Shumpert, who took about nine shots per game last year, will need to do his best Big Ben in a bathroom impression (too soon?) and get aggressive on the offensive end. At times last year, he never looked at the basket, getting shutout against Wake Forest and at home against the Tar Heels. Yet he put up 17 at Maryland, 24 against Boston College and of course in Chapel Hill, he lit up the Tar Heels with a career high 30, on 10-17 shooting (7-9) from three. Simply point, he can put up points when he actually tries to score.
Now in my eyes, there is nothing more fun to watch than a college player’s sophomore-to-junior jump. It’s typically when you start to see things click. While I expect bad things from the Georgia Tech team (zero front court will do that), look for Shumpert to become Tech’s best player, again, as long as he and the rim get close and personal.
If he can get his shooting percentage over 40% (something he has yet to do in his career), he could average about 15ppg next year as Tech’s leading scorer. The key will be the mid-range game. Iman’s not the fastest guard in the league, but he’s strong and can get into the lane. If he can discover a 15-18 foot shot, he’ll be tough to stop.