ACC Basketball: Top 5 Front Courts

ACC Basketball will be loaded down low. What are the five best front courts?

If you hadn’t heard recently, ACC basketball is loaded this season.

They are loaded in the polls. They are loaded in the schedules. They are even loaded in the front courts. So what are the five best front courts in the ACC this season?

Well I am glad you ask because the KIH Rankings Guru has the answers.

Before we get into the top five here are a couple of honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut:

Virginia who always seems to find a way to be tough down low. They missed because of the loss of seniors Malcolm Brogdan and Mike Tobey. They do bring in Memphis transfer Austin Nichols though.

Notre Dame despite the loss of Zack Auguste will also be tough down low. The Irish bring back three point bomber VJ Beachem and undersized load Bonzie Colson.

And finally I would be remiss if I did not mention Pittsburgh. The Panthers just missed the cut. However teams should be weary of the senior combo forward of Michael Young and James Artis. They will be a handful for many teams this season.

Well with that out of the way let’s delve into the top five.

Mar 9, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen (3) is fouled while shooting the ball by North Carolina State Wolfpack forward BeeJay Anya (21) in the second half during day two of the ACC conference tournament at Verizon Center. The Blue Devils won 92-89. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

5

NC State Wolfpack

NC State checks in at number five. Abdul-Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya give the Wolfpack two big bodies to throw at teams down low. The duo combined to average around 18 points and 14 rebounds last season. Together they combine for 588 lbs and really use that to get position in the post. State also adds 7 footer Omer Yurtseven. The Turkish freshman is suspended to start the season but will give Coach Mark Gottfried another skilled interior player. In one contest overseas Yurtseven scored 91 points and grabbed 28 rebounds.

Apr 2, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Tyler Lydon (20) works to control the ball ahead of North Carolina Tar Heels forward Brice Johnson (11) during the second half in the 2016 NCAA Men

4

Syracuse Orange

Syracuse caught a big break this offseason when Tyler Lydon decided to not join fellow teammate Malachi Richardson in going pro. The freshman forward had made a name for himself in the Orange’s march to the Final Four. Some thought he could be a first round pick. His return is one of the reasons Syracuse comes in at number four despite losing it’s top three scorers from last season. Lydon joins Tyler Robinson and DaJuan Coleman to form a front court that can score, rebound, and block. The trio averaged 24 points, 19.5 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks last season. In the postseason their rebounds and blocks ballooned to 22 and 6 respectively. A lot of that had to do with the Two Tylers. Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 defense is tough to crack and even tougher with a strong front court.

Mar 9, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Clemson Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) dribbles the ball around Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets guard Marcus Georges-Hunt (3) and Tigers forward Donte Grantham (15) in the second half during day two of the ACC conference tournament at Verizon Center. The Yellow Jackets won 88-85. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

3

Clemson Tigers

Clemson checks in at number three in what probably is a surprise to some. Though they were greatly helped by the return of first team All-ACC selection Jaron Blossomgame. Like Lydon, Blossomgame was a potential first round pick. Blossomgame returned to join Dontae Grantham and Sidy Djitte in the front court. The Tiger trio combined last season for 28 points and 16 rebounds. They also bring a ton of experience as all three played in all 31 games last season. Blossomgame is the star, but Grantham and Djitte make this team dangerous in the post. Teams will find it difficult trying to contain Coach Brad Brownell’s Tigers this season.

Apr 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Villanova Wildcats guard Phil Booth (5) goes after a loose ball against North Carolina Tar Heels forward Brice Johnson (11) and North Carolina Tar Heels forward Isaiah Hicks (4) during the second half in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Men

2

North Carolina Tar Heels

UNC checks in at number two despite losing consensus First team All-American and All-ACC Forward Brice Johnson. They also loss depth with the graduation of Joel James. However, those losses just take the best front court from last season and make it the second best this season. It starts with the senior duo of Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks. The two combined to average 18 points and 10.5 rebounds last season on a team that went five deep up front. Toss in Freshman phenom Tony Bradley and Sophomore holdover Luke Maye to give the team some added depth. Round it off with junior forwards Justin Jackson and currently injured Theo Pinson to create a very talented very solid front court. It is deep and experienced. Most years it would be number one, however…

Dec 5, 2015; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Amile Jefferson (21) drives against Buffalo Bulls forward Ikenna Smart (34) in their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

1

Duke Blue Devils

When compiling this list, the UNC fan inside of me wanted to put the Tar Heels at the top of the list. My editor strongly suggested that I take my own bias out of the equation and consider how talented the Duke front court is. They are loaded. It starts with the experience that comes in the form of “Eighth Year” senior Amile Jefferson. Before suffering a season ending injury, Jefferson was averaging a double double all while playing with four wing players. He is joined by Sean Obi who almost averaged a double double his freshman season at Rice and Luke Kennard, a guard who allows Duke to play effective small ball. They also added five star forwards Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles as well as five star center Marques Bolden in the most recent recruiting class. Toss in hold over five star forward Chase Jeter and you can see why this team is loaded and number one in the nation. They are long, tall, and dangerous. They do have some injury issues as all three freshman got injured before the season started. However, no other team can claim their depth or talent and they have enough experience to be number one on this list.

Well that is the top five front courts in the ACC. I am sure some schools feel slighted. But they can’t all be top five. Well they could if the conference only had five teams. But it has 15, so somebody isn’t going home happy.

Regardless this will be a great year for ACC basketball and for true inside out game that starts in the front court.

What did you think of these rankings? Let us know in the comments below.

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