ACC Analytics Basketball Basketball Stats Blog Brandon Childress Chris Lykes Cole Anthony Kihei Clark Markell Johnson teams Tre Jones Trent Forrest Xavier Johnson

Year of the Point Guard: Led by Tre Jones and Cole Anthony, ACC looks to be guard-centric in 2020

Duke guard Tre Jones (Three) passes the ball throughout the first half of a second-round recreation in the NCAA males’s school basketball event Sunday, March 24, 2019, in Columbia, S.C. Duke defeated Central Florida 77-76. (AP Photograph/Sean Rayford)

There are a number of gifted guard set to depart the ACC in the 2019 offseason. RJ Barrett and Coby White are possible lottery picks; Nickeil Alexander-Walker will go in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft, too. After a nationwide title run, Ty Jerome is prepared for the subsequent degree as properly. In fact, Ky Bowman and Tyus Battle have additionally exited for NBA alternatives. Plus, let’s not overlook a veteran like Justin Robinson, who’s emerging as an NBA prospect in his own right.

Despite these departures, the ACC will be stacked at the point guard place next season. Two of the prime 2020 NBA Draft prospects — Cole Anthony and Tre Jones — will headline the group, however there’s lots of depth at the position behind them.

With that in thoughts, let’s take a look at the ACC’s prime lead guards heading into next season.

Cole Anthony, UNC

Few, if any, gamers will enter school basketball next season with extra excitement than Cole Anthony. As I wrote lately, UNC has completed with an help price of 55 % or better for eight straight seasons, per KenPom. And over the final 10 seasons, North Carolina has five top-five finishes nationally in terms of average offensive possession size.

The 2018-19 squad averaged a blistering 14.6 seconds per offensive possession, which was good for fifth quickest in the country.

For these numbers to stay high, so much hinges upon Anthony to ship. Based mostly on his Nike EYBL performances, to his current work on the prep all-star recreation circuit, culminating with a robust outing at the Nike Hoops Summit (25 points, three 3-pointers), it seems as though Anthony is more than up to the process.

Cole Anthony is a superb match for UNC’s high-octane offense. Dynamic in transition with an aggressive mentality. Can get to his pull-up at will and has clear 3-level scoring potential. Embraces contact + can guard when engaged. Creating flooring recreation. pic.twitter.com/lm3sto06KX

— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) April 23, 2019

By this level, everyone knows that UNC needs to push the tempo offensively; after seeing Coby White shine in a lead guard position this season, Anthony looks like the next in an extended line of great North Carolina guards.

Tre Jones, Duke

I wrote about this final month, however the return of Tre Jones feels comparable to what De’Andre Hunter did a season in the past, too. With Jones again, Duke has the league’s prime defensive player, and a recognized commodity on offense.

As a freshman, Jones averaged 9.four factors, 5.3 assists (6.2 per 40 minutes) and 1.9 steals per recreation. While he handled the ball a lot, Jones typically hand to transfer away from it with high-usage teammates, like RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, controlling the offense. At occasions, that proved to be a big concern.

It wasn’t simply Central Florida in the NCAA Event; down the stretch of ACC play, Virginia Tech and UNC played off Jones and dared him to hit open jumpers, which triggered issues for Duke’s half-court offense.

That may change in 2019-20, although. Duke has the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class coming to Durham, but Jones is the unquestioned lead dog of this roster. The ball will reside in the arms of Jones, who has the capability to raise an offense beyond the sum of its elements as its main initiator.

If Jones can work out a pull-up 3-pointer in the offseason, look out. Nevertheless, even if he can’t get that shot down, Jones ought to nonetheless be in a position to search for his midrange/floater recreation more as a sophomore. That’s an area of consolation. Jones also shot 57 % at the rim in the half courtroom, per Synergy.

Jones is an excellent passer (24 % help fee) who sees issues from a complicated perspective. He already is aware of a lot of the darkish arts required to play point guard at a excessive degree. Jones is affected person and robust; he can keep a dribble while utilizing his decrease body to defend his defender from the ball — proper out of the Chris Paul playbook.

Sometimes, Jones will doing something in phrases of passing the ball that allows you to perceive simply how shortly he can process the recreation. He sees passing windows before they open, and he’s capable of enjoying his teammates into area, like a heady play-making midfielder in soccer. This will likely be my favourite cross thrown in school basketball during the 2018-19 season.

On protection, nicely, Jones is special. For my money, there wasn’t a greater on-ball defender (2.2 steals per 40 minutes) in school basketball this season. He gets low and slides with superb precision. Tre Jones isn’t Chris Paul however, man, does he appear to be Younger CP3 on defense at occasions.

Regardless of how his offense develops, Jones still has NBA potential as a defensive-minded backup point guard.

This season, Jones was one of seven Division I players with a steal fee of three %, an assist price of 20 % and a sub-15 % turnover fee.

Xavier Johnson, Pittsburgh

It was a loaded season for freshmen in the ACC. Nevertheless, even in a yr dominated by the stars along Tobacco Street — Zion, RJ, Coby — Pitt’s Xavier Johnson carved out a reputation for himself, too.

After decommitting  from Nebraska, Xavier Johnson was the second commit Jeff Capel landed when he took over at Pittsburgh last March. As soon as the season started, it didn’t take lengthy for Johnson to announce his presence as a potential NBA prospect.

The 6-foot-Three guard has a very good motor and a fast first step, which allow him to break a defense down off dribble penetration. He averaged 15.5 factors per recreation last season, and ranked 50th nationally in utilization fee: 30.Three %. In ACC play, Johnson’s usage fee climbed to 31.four % — second highest in the convention.

Johnson still acquired up over three 3-point attempts per recreation (35.2 3P%) final season; nevertheless, a a lot larger proportion of his offense got here at the basket.

Xavier Johnson making a press release early in this recreation… pic.twitter.com/xoJyCRnE1c

— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) December 10, 2018

Over 48 % of Johnson’s subject aim attempts (185 of 383 FGA) occurred at the rim. That’s an enormous number. And while he shot simply 52 % on stated looks, solely 5.2 % of his area objectives from this range have been assisted.

Over 42 % of Johnson’s possessions came out of the pick-and-roll this season; no player in the ACC used more pick-and-roll possessions (260) or scored extra factors (203) out of the pick-and-roll than Johnson, per Synergy.

Johnson performs with vision, too. He handed out 4.5 assists per recreation — 5.8 per 40 minutes. In accordance to Bart Torvik, he was the solely freshman in the nation with a 30 % utilization price and a 30 % assist fee.

As gifted as Johnson is, he turned the ball over too many occasions this season: 24.2 % turnover fee. In fact, part of that equation is an offense that provided but a lot aid for the ball-dominant Johnson. Opponents might make life troublesome for Johnson by trapping ball screens or sending additional help defenders.

The progression of Trey McGowens and Au’Diese Toney might go a great distance to assist ease defensive strain on Johnson.

Trent Forrest, FSU

Forrest returns to Tallahassee for his fourth and remaining season as one of the most physically-imposing guards in America. A downhill driver of the basketball, Forrest actually stands out on the other end of the flooring, though; he’s a dogged defender who can verify a number of positions and disrupt.

As a junior, Forrest bagged 69 assists, which ranked second in the ACC — behind only Zion Williamson (70); for his career, Forrest has averaged 2.6 steals per 40 minutes, which is an enormous number.

(Let’s not overlook: the last time we saw Forrest he put together a monster effort in defeat towards Gonzaga in the Sweet 16.)

The bounce shot continues to be a missing piece for Forrest (career 47.Three eFG%), although. Last October at ACC media days, Forrest advised me he wasn’t too apprehensive about his jumper getting into his junior season; his focus was on all other points of his recreation.

Nevertheless, after capturing just 16 % on pull-up leap shot attempts in the half courtroom as a junior, per Synergy, this is an area to handle in the offseason.

While his shot stays a liability, Forrest nonetheless finds offense with powerful drives to the rim; he’s an absolute drive at occasions. That bodily driving nature may cause turnovers (2.7 turnovers per 40 minutes for his career); nevertheless, it also makes him a robust slash-and-kick player.

Throughout the 2018-19 basketball season, eight ACC gamers finished with steal rates of three % and assist rates of 20 %. Of that group, only three return: Tre Jones, Jose Alvarado and Trent Forrest.

Over the the last two seasons, Forrest has averaged Three.9 assists per recreation — 5.6 per 40 minutes. In 2019-20, FSU will rely closely on Forrest to be an offensive engine; look for he and fast-rising 3-and-D wing Devin Vassell (69 eFG% on catch-and-shoots) to drive this ship.

Chris Lykes, Miami

At occasions in the 2018-19 season, it felt as though the weight of the Miami Basketball universe was on the shoulders of Chris Lykes. With a restricted, seven-man rotation, Miami was dealt a troublesome hand. Missing in depth and plus scoring expertise, the Hurricanes took a lot of bumps and bruises throughout a tough and tumble ACC season.

Miami went simply 5-13 in ACC play; over those 18 video games, the Canes ranked 14th in adjusted defensive effectivity, per KenPom. Offensively, although, Miami was nearer to the middle of the street in adjusted offensive efficiency: 1.01 factors per possession, good for eighth in the ACC. No matter good Miami found on offense can be traced again to Lykes.

Pressed right into a high-usage position (29 % usage fee towards prime 50 teams) with restricted secondary choices, the 5-foot-7 Lykes turned an obvious target of opposing defenses. Miami wasn’t precisely splitting the atom offensively — principally operating excessive ball screens — which allowed teams to lure and double Lykes.

Regardless of the attention, Lykes still proved to be a strong pick-and-roll scorer. Over 31 % of Lykes’ possessions have been used by way of pick-and-roll, per Synergy: 0.91 factors per possession (52.3 eFG%), which ranked third in the ACC (minimal 100 possessions).

Lykes was one of five players in the ACC this season to average 16 factors, three assists and four free throw attempts per recreation. According to Synergy, Lykes shot 40.7 % on off-dribble bounce photographs in the half courtroom — scoring 1.01 factors per possession (50.4 eFG%), which ranked No. 25 in Division I.

Truthfully, the 5-foot-7 measurement given to Lykes might be a tad generous, too. Lykes is a brilliant player, though, and he knows how to use his low middle of gravity to his benefit — weaving round defenders with craft and misdirection.

From one of Miami’s go-to actions (the double drag display), watch Lykes work towards a loaded up Virginia Tech protection. He looks like a sports activities automotive zipping round a bunch of oversized orange visitors cones.

Markell Johnson: To be decided

After a robust junior season, Markell Johnson opted to check the 2019 NBA Draft waters. This can be a clever selection; there’s no danger in getting some invaluable feedback from NBA groups. In contrast to other notable underclassmen with no first-round guarantee — Battle and Bowman, as an example — Johnson has left the door open to return to Raleigh.

If Johnson comes again, he will completely be one of the greatest players in the ACC. At this level, Johnson is usually a fringe NBA prospect, though I’m just a little extra bullish than most. I feel he can play professionally.

Who was the only ACC player to rank prime 5 in the league in both isolation and catch-and-shoot effectivity this season? That might be Markell Johnson of @PackMensBball — more on the level guard’s breakout junior season https://t.co/KSBidOgQq8 pic.twitter.com/oIBc9nMOvN

— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) April 3, 2019

For extra on Johnson: Final month, I wrote an enormous piece of his improvement as a pick-and-roll decision-maker and scorer.

Different Names to Keep in mind

  • Kihei Clark, Virginia
  • Brandon Childress, Wake Forest
    • 24.four % help price
    • 1.26 points per possession (64 eFG%) on spot-ups

Learn More on Tre Jones

What the return of Tre Jones means to Duke Basketball in 2019