ACC’s Top-25: No. 1 – Kyle Singler, Duke

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Surprise. Surprise. I’m dropping both the No 1 and No 2 players at the same time. The fact is, at this point, there are no more surprises. Why make you wait? Enjoy.

The second Kyle Singler announcement that he would be returning for his senior year, you could already pencil him as a candidate for not only ACC player of the year, but for national player of the year as well.

Looking back at this “Top-25 Players in the ACC” list, even I can admit Singler won’t be the best pro. In fact, when it is all said and done, he might not even be one of the top-six. Again though, that’s not what this list is about. This is the top-25 players in the ACC list, THIS year, RIGHT now.

Last year, Singler made the switch to small forward and it took nearly a full season to find his stroke. Yet when he finally starting hitting his shots, he was the best player in the ACC and he looked like a polished pro throughout the tournament.

There is no reason not to believe he can’t do that all season long in 2010-2011. He’s still the conferences best inside-outside guy, capable of getting hot from deep, but thanks to two years as a power forward, he can bang with the best of them.

He does all this despite not being the greatest athlete on the floor. Of course that’s what being a starter for three years gives you. To get open, he works the screens like few others can. Inside, he’s mastered the art of getting position. While he won’t streak past too many defenders, he uses his size and head fakes to get open shots inside the paint.

Yet, there is still work to be done. There is a reason why he came back to college for one final go. On the offensive end, Singler can be a little streaky, so consistency is a must. On the defensive side, Kyle was solid shutting down small forwards, developing the patented Shane Battier “hand in the face” defensive technique.

This season, he’s going to face more athletic, more polished forwards (Harrison Barnes, anyone?), so the key will be his defensive footwork, because we all know, you win defensively with your feet.

Anyhow, while Barnes will one day be the better player in the NBA, I’m giving Kyle the top spot for two reasons. His experienced can’t be overlooked. He’s started over 100 games of college basketball, compared to Barnes’ none. Second, Kyle simply has the better team surrounding him. No opposing team will be able to game plan just on shutting down Singler. There is too much talent in Durham this year for that to happen.

#2 – HARRISON BARNES, FORWARD, NORTH CAROLINA

#3 – NOLAN SMITH, GUARD – DUKE

#4 – MALCOLM DELANEY, GUARD – VA TECH

#5 – TRACY SMITH, FORWARD – NC STATE

#6 – KYRIE IRVING, GUARD – DUKE

#7 – JORDAN WILLIAMS, FORWARD – MARYLAND

#8 – DURAND SCOTT, GUARD – MIAMI

#9 – CHRIS SINGLETON, FORWARD – FLORIDA STATE

#10 – DORENZO HUDSON, GUARD – VIRGINIA TECH

#11 – DEMONTEZ STITT, GUARD – CLEMSON

#12 – REGGIE JACKSON, GUARD – BOSTON COLLEGE

#13 – JEFF ALLEN, FORWARD – VIRGINIA TECH

#14 – JOHN HENSON, FORWARD – NORTH CAROLINA

#15 – XAVIER GIBSON, CENTER – FLORIDA STATE

#16 – C.J. LESLIE, FORWARD – NORTH CAROLINA STATE

#17 – GLEN RICE JR., GUARD – GEORGIA TECH

#18 – REGGIE BULLOCK, GUARD – NORTH CAROLINA

#19 – MASON PLUMLEE, FORWARD – DUKE

#20 – C.J. HARRIS, GUARD – WAKE FOREST

#21 – SETH CURRY, GUARD – DUKE

#22 – SEAN MOSLEY, GUARD – MARYLAND

#23 – JOE TRAPANI, FORWARD – BOSTON COLLEGE

#24 – MIKE SCOTT, FORWARD – VIRGINIA

#25 IMAN SHUMPERT, GUARD – GEORGIA TECH