Former Florida State guard Luke Loucks, a starter on last season's ACC tournament championship team, spoke with me this week to help preview the ACC. Here's his scouting report on the league next season:
1. North Carolina lost four first-round draft picks and Duke lost Austin Rivers, which is probably good and bad in some ways. Do you see those programs reloading and being as good as ever or could either be in for a down season?
LL: North Carolina and Duke will still be North Carolina and Duke. Every year people say "North Carolina lost this guy and that guy…" but these people forgot about the 3-5 McDonald's All-Americans who were patiently waiting their turn on the bench the previous year. Carolina will have a very strong group of returning players with Strickland, Bullock, McDonald, McAdoo, and Hairston. They also have a sensational freshman point guard in Marcus Paige. Even though many of the previously mentioned players are either inexperienced, coming off of injuries, or haven't been [Roy] Williams' go-to guy, talent will certainly not be an excuse for North Carolina.
Duke will have to replace Austin Rivers, an incredible talent, but they will replace him by getting back to Coach K's system and not relying on 1-on-1 isolations and a variety of high ball screens which Rivers thrived off of. I think that Duke is at its best when they wear down their opponents with extra ball movement, find the open man on offense, play forty minutes of overly-aggressive defense, and play fundamental basketball. As good as Rivers was, he struggled, at times, in all of these categories. Seth Curry has the potential to lead the ACC in scoring; Kelly and Plumlee could both achieve double-doubles regularly, and Coach K is one of the best in the world at getting every ounce of talent out of his players. With all that being said, there is a bit more wiggle room than most years for a few teams to dethrone UNC and Duke from their stronghold on the ACC.Read More »from ACC Preview: Ex-Florida State guard Luke Loucks projects the league